June 7, 2021, Commentary from a stormy place

June 7, 2021, Commentary from a stormy place: It came from the West. I was driving. Right around 6:00 in the evening, the sky turned an ominous dark shade of blue. The clouds were not grey but actually a deep shade of blue. The bright red traffic lights stood out in sharp contrast to that blue. It looked a little ominous like the picture of clouds my bondhu sent me from the other side of the World. What connects these two Worlds of mine? Sometimes it is the rain – the storm – bringing the same relief everywhere. I ran through the rain, head covered with a plastic grocery bag, the fish getting wet in my hand. This fish was not a fish out of water. I got drenched as did I am sure many others as they scurried from the rain in Gariahat, perhaps out shopping just like me. What connects my two lives together? What is the thread that runs through these lives? What does connect our lives together, as we share rain pictures from balconies across the World over WhatsApp? Is it shared recent miseries? A bondhu told me today that a family member was back in the hospital with unexplained complications after the disease. Yet the disease seems to be moving back into the background; now we are turning to other issues. The past President is making noises of a rerun in one of my two states. And in another a sitting leader is making claims the superb personal maneuvering has now promised us all free vaccines. The vaccine – the kabach. These miseries, these promises, these hopes connect us together. Kabach. Think about that word. If you looked it up, you would find that the simple meaning of the word is “armor.” An apt metaphor for the vaccine. But it goes further, the kabach is Holy armor. It is the armor that Durga wears and defeats the evil of the World. We are not only promised an armor but a divine armor. Far more powerful. And it will be free. Just like the vaccine, such a benign thing, that is given out at the local pharmacy – also for free. The kabach binds my Worlds together. Worlds that have been separated by the wall of RTPCR tests may now again connect together as we are all armored. This armor will bring back the relationships which were reduced to calculating viral load when dropping of food. We may touch again. The Kabach. We may even venture a hug over the 4th of July cookout. Protected and armored. We will be connected again, and we will look up at the sky, distant from each other, and know the other one, protected and armored, is also seeing the clouds. In my homes the rains came from the West today. There is a reason the kaal Baishakhi is also called a Nor ’Wester. It is directional. At the traffic light I too was looking West as the rain pelted down making driving tough. I thought of the bondhus driving far far away and that seemed to connect me to them. Protected by divine armors we will all drive again, in the rain, in the wind, as I will flit between the two Worlds hoping that the kabach holds. And there are no chinks in the armor. At this point I am with Tina Turner - “Looking for something We can rely on; There's gotta be something better out there” That will connect these lives together.

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