Is there a better time than the pandemic? Of course, this question only applies to people of his kind—writers. After all, what does such a person need but a room of one’s own, a lot of quietude to concentrate, and little intrusion from family and friends?
The lockdown nature of life these days does seem desirable then—for a writer.
“But there’s such a background hum of anxiety,” says Siddharth Kapila, talking of “pain and death all around”, and of how in a time like this “a week of productivity is followed by weeks of stress and listlessness.”
In his late 30s, Mr Kapila gave up his law practice a few years ago to focus on writing, “which is not merely a hobby for me.” He has two addresses in the city—his parents’ home in Bengali Market and a small first floor studio in Greater Kailash. In fact, this evening he is talking on WhatsApp video from the isolation of this pad. Working on a book about Hindu pilgrimage sites across the Ganga river, Mr Kapila’s last book-related trip was to Benares, some weeks before Covid-19 hit our part of the world. “But now I don’t go out, not even in Delhi… particularly because my parents are in their 70s, and I don’t want to risk bringing the infection home.”
Besides writing, Mr Kapila spends a big part of his time cooking. His lockdown-era Instagram feed is crammed with dishes (eggs benedict, chicken schnitzel, shrimp scampi spaghetti…)
Recently he cooked up something new—a poem. “I was having coffee by the window, watching the morning light outside. I got inspired by the moment and wrote this poem within 10 minutes.”
Insisting he is no poet, Mr Kapila agrees to share the said poem, which might speak to those of us who strongly relate to hashtags as contemporary as he used while posting these verses on his social media feed—#bored, #tired, #quarantinetime, and #covidtimes.
A rectangle of sunlight,
A pile of books unread,
Hope and despair,
Shadow and light,
Morning or evening,
Can you tell?
We chug along,
With the help of small windows of hope,
Hoping still to go back to the time as it was before,
But we can’t. Not yet.
So patiently we sip our coffee. And wait.
We read, we get on. We live. We wait,
To move into a bright new world filled with wonder,
Of books all read and windows burst wide open,
The light flooding inside.
This too shall pass.
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