Soul is a bird.

Soul is a free-flying bird, un-caged and strong winged. I was one as well just before the beautiful thing Covid came and caged me: pressed air, flakes of dusts making swing in the light sipping in through the window ajar burnt my face to wake me up. I reached home last night. What I am going to tell you next may make you to think I am a reckless maniac because that's how I now feel about my past self; we were prowling at the hillside of exam when an unbelievably imperceptible wind touched our ears: an infection was taking lives and about to loom on us. We may have to close the school for an infinite period of time; an infinitely long leave for us; for last ten years a month a year was how our annual leave was, a time to be home, finally. Among us ecstasy undulated. I was put on to go fourteen days home quarantine immediately after disembarking a three-day train journey- from Kerala, south most part of India, to Assam, one of the Seven Sisters of north eastern India- deathly tiresome excursion on account of blazing heat outside and impenetrable thickness of passengers on the train with overflowing toilet facilities and desert-like sinks and white and blue medical masks which we didn't get for free and its loose strings around ears made the already thick air a solid one to take in. Time wore on at the speed of a tortoise's strides. My slender sister was the one to serve me food all the time and my poor mother always made sure I was indoors all the time. My only access to my friends, whom I usually get to see well after ten months on end for last ten years, was an eastward window, giving a clear view of un-taken path and on whose belly so often- thrice a day- doomed police sirens as they, for the first time, maybe, came out to see the area they were supposed to look after and make the money they were sponging the government a halal one. A joke apart, my father was one of them. I saw him patrolling, swinging a baton at his either sides, and shouting, ‘its better you be home and be a good family man'. I never fret what he meant. But when he came back home off duty I missed him, my family missed him, so badly, because he had to put out in a separate room because Covid was a bloody mess that travelled in air. My father delivered groceries in time and through the window, as if held back far by an invisible wall size of a pond, he asked me how I was. So when the morning wind blew flung open the window I put my face there. There was a freedom song in it, its hissing sang it beautifully, with all heart, there is something strange about freedom; suddenly a raven- though I seemed to hate them all my life- descended on a dead twig which at once loudly creaked and fell down, the raven flew higher and perched on a fresh branch. I saw it. My eyes lingered on it. A rotten bread piece hung between its beaks. Slowly it staggered to a darker part of the tree. Towards it's nestle and its tiny descendants whose unformed beaks I could only see as they craned, warred for the piece of bread. Nearly everything was frozen- even time, for me and those locked up in home, at least- with dangerous Covid but birds. And my soul. My heart. Maybe depressed but unstoppable. But it stops, the birds flutters but doesn't cover distance when it is caged. I felt as if I had imprisoned my soul in the depressing scenario than leaving it free and fly it to the forgotten corners of my heart where love still dwelled for the forgotten people who escaped because neither they nor I did have time to catch each other and exchange a hello and a hi. Everything brings you an opportunity. You are dead when you imprison your soul but now, in swimming in the wave of dangerous Covid, though we have to imprison our body but our soul could be free, technology made it a string to bind whole world together, I read it somewhere as one of pros of emergence of technology. I felt my soul I had caged it. I turned away from the window, plugged my mobile which has, for some time, been lying dead because I hated technology because all I thought it was a destructively pastime buddy, turned it on, opened the Facebook and searched a long forgotten name on chat section- Hamza Azeez. He was online, my friend, we were so close the whole village tagged us as ‘born to be friend'. But they moved to US a year before I left for Kerala. Now we were friends on Facebook but a hectic time for both of us never allowed us even to share a voice. Our profiles were still same. Last message to him was dated back to 2016. I pressed the video call option. A face, bearded, appeared after three seconds of browsing. ‘You Muzzu?' he pointed a finger at me, his voice startled me pleasantly, I followed his fingers to the tiny corner below, a cropped square showed my photo. Bearded. Fourteenth day of quarantine. I smiled. We laughed. I peeped out of the window to find the raven carelessly feeding its children. ‘Thank you' I whispered and flew it an aerial kiss.

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