By Purva Grover
Friday, April 2020
A pause. That’s also what nights could be called, right? A pause from chores and work woes. From laundry runs and morning jogs. From budgets and deadlines. To put your feet up, close your eyes. To give in. To give your mind a well-deserved rest.
But I’m not good with pauses of any kind, especially the pause that we’re all in the middle of.
I wake up feeling refreshed. It’s a Friday. We are both refreshed. We’re also awake a tad earlier than we usually are on Fridays. But the Fridays we once woke up to seem to be a distant memory now.
I do what I do every morning: head for my coffee mug. It’s one of the few rituals that we’re grateful that we can still stick to.
It’s getting hot. It’s 38 degrees. Yet, I convince myself to sit outside, for a while, until, of course, the sweat beads begin to form.
Sitting outside with coffee mugs in hands, we look forward to hearing the sound of Friday prayers. They soothed our weeklong worked up nerves. Prayers said to the Almighty, irrespective of the language they’re said in, have a soothing effect on us. They are powerful. Faith, in any form, brings calm. We’re all burning out, w’ere all shaken; faith is what will keep us going. We’re truly grateful, hopeful.
The roads in front of us are barren. “TGIF (Thank God, It’s Friday!),” we would have said to each other before. We would have made plans for a Friday. Now, we just look at the roads that are occasionally dotted with bikes— the delivery men ensuring we get our supply of eggs, meat, fruits, vegetables and detergent.
The real heroes are at work, Friday, or any other day. They’re keeping an eye out on the beeping medical monitors, leaving their loved ones at home. They’re wearing masks and gloves, making us believe in heroes beyond capes. Their magic wands are of a different kind, the medical kind.
Further ahead from where we sit, we can see an expanse of water. It’s the World Islands. They, too, are calm, quiet.
The sound of the prayers reaches us, engulfing us. We draw comfort from the sound. The mosques are empty, though. The worshippers are at home, safe.
“How must it feel? A space without the worshippers?” I ask my husband, “Empty walls, rebounding the sound of prayers. The prayer mats awaiting the worshippers to return.”
“And they will soon enough,” he adds.
It’s the season of togetherness, gratitude, forgiveness, sacrifice and faith. It’s Ramadan. “Over the years, I’ve begun to look forward to the rituals of sharing meals, adorning homes with lanterns and of understanding a faith that is different from mine, yet so beautiful,” I tell him. We speak of foods and faiths, until we can’t bear the heat and move indoors.
When the evening sets in, the aroma of eggplant, lamb and potatoes fill up the air.
Soon we will be told that we did well.
That our test is over.
That we passed.
That this was a game.
“A game and, at least faith is on our side,” I say, “We’ll win.”
At night, the angels will spray magic potion on the roads to keep us safe, whilst, we’ll pause, once again, and go to bed, knowing we’ve to keep those who are looking after us in our prayers.
Tomorrow, we will stand together as one, once again.
Saturday, April 2020
Today, again, there was a spike in the number of cases.
“Is death just a number on a headline?” I ask him, still rubbing my eyes.
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Purva Grover is an Indian author, journalist, poetess, stage director and playwright based in Dubai. She is also the founder-editor of ‘The Indian Trumpet’, a quarterly digital magazine for Indian expats, and works as the assistant editor with a UAE national daily, and as the editor of a magazine for young adults.
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