Send the Zoom link na?

Love through zoom boxes is such a modern
tragedy – I wonder what the poets would
have said. Can you hear me? No one
writes that for a message in a bottle

because there is no expectation
of being heard. You’re on mute,
please, unmute yourself. When
people wrote on sand: they
knew Ocean was coming.

Can you see me?
Please, turn on your video.
I’m sorry there are no sculptures of
us and no portraits and no abstract
art that rhymes with bollocks.

If Amrita Sher-Gil was alive she
could insist I put on some lipstick.
I would pick a red matte and smile.
Hibiscus red stays on my lips:
it’s cost efficient – like eating a
cherry and tasting the whole bunch.

Do you know who is watching?

Seeing is so damn overrated

The irony of desire in boxes is that all of
a sudden – everything is sexy: an elbow,
a neck, a strand of hair you are itching
to spin, and even the nose glows!

Seeing is so damn overrated.
Seeing is so damn overrated.
Seeing is so damn overrated.

I’d never prayed for the
multiverse to be true before.
It has nothing to do with longing,
only that loss is a primary colour.

If we lived in another world,
maybe we could prevent
loss from dressing in
ambulance sirens.

Maybe, we could ask
it to mourn respectfully.
Not be bright and blinding.

Yesterday, more than ten house sparrows
showed up at our bedroom window: pecking
voraciously, and trying to see inside our home.

We danced at their arrival until we
realised, they too, had lost someone.
It was not beautiful.
It was a search party.

We have all lost.
It is not beautiful.
It is not beautiful.

Illustration by Sadhvi Dash

Who gets to live

If death was an invite only private club,
invitations would not be sent via Zoom.
It’s too common now, and if death wanted
to market itself as a luxury good, it would
target the people who drive decisions for
“who gets to live”. How many lives can be
destroyed would be a metric for eligibility.
How fast can you do it? A combination of
optimisation & quantity would determine
whether you get a bronze, gold, silver,
or platinum membership. Life-long
members can even ask for a quicker
upgrade if they recruit 10 members.
Each member would be allowed to
hire a robot to count the death toll.
The robot would teleport. It has no use for Zoom.
We’d use it though – to organise all the funerals.

Zoom and death

The words of the year
are zoom and death.
One is a four letter word and
the other is a five letter word.
This poem is trying to
account for the facts.

A zoom screen is no mirror
and I hide self-view because
I am exhausted of
forgetting who I am.

There is no feeling
that fits the figures.
All zeroes in the number
we have lost are empty.

Illustration by Sadhvi Dash

I don’t want to be on Zoom

Am I good for nothing?
What’s wrong in wanting to be no one,
do nothing, and become everything?
I want to be a particle that scientists
haven’t discovered and named yet.
I want to be energy that is free
to roam the universe without
being attached to personhood.

I don’t want to be on Zoom because
people are dying and we are trying
to live on Internet as if their ghosts
will be giving a live performance and
people all over the world will tune in.
If it breaks record for number of
views, will grief gain meaning?

Screen sharing is common

There is unnecessary urgency in a Zoom call:
we are all on a treasure hunt sans the
joy of finding prizes along the way.
In webinars: people talk like hamsters on wheels and
at least a few attendees are busy making gifs of the
speakers, arguably a better use of time. In work
meetings: screen sharing is common, I wonder
if we’ve forgotten that open windows used
to signal incoming of fresh air. In birthday
parties: a spotted inside joke is discussed
on Whatsapp, there’s no room for
clandestine gestures on full screen.
Maybe a yawn is as close to
silence we can get on Zoom.
Study-sessions are helpful but I ask:
why should I be reading on pain
if I don’t know how to heal it?
So much of zoom demands aggressive attention
that I care less and less about each word uttered.
Maybe, the point of reading about pain is caring
for the singular, the forgettable, the ignored.
Maybe, the point of reading about pain is
learning that care is not glamorous job.
Zoom expects me to be comfortable in an overexposed world.
I have no qualms of being watched, but I don’t understand why
I also have to participate. Please, don’t invite me to your meeting.

Illustration by Sadhvi Dash

Find Saumya R Kedia on instagram here and on Twitter here.

Find Sadhvi Dash on instagram here.