I often met an old man in his 80’s sitting alone on the banks of the Loktak lake in the early evenings before the Covid-19 lockdown. I used to wonder at his solitude every time I saw him when the sun almost hid behind the hills in the West and the evening breeze blowing across the Tamu soothed passersby by the lake.
When the lockdown started in February, the initial shock of the pandemic drove me slightly paralysed that I didn’t go out for days other than going to the engkhol a kilometre away from our present house. I was perturbed by the number of people gathered in shops, konthongs and sumang. I avoided talking to people and silently performed my daily tasks of watering the vegetables in the evenings and returned home at sunset.
New Delhi city. Enclosed spaces. Women in each other’s company. The settings include girls’ PGs, corners at restaurant, and bedrooms. Subtle moments of interactions among them; the tenderness of words unsaid.
These women would often confront public spaces with steely gazes and compose themselves in the manner of knights taking on quests. Who could blame them for having to do so after the hostilities the city lashes upon them? However, the same subjects created and shared safe spaces among one another, letting go of their defenses they wore as armours previously. They established trust within the sanctuaries they created together.
* ‘Before dark’ in Meiteilon.