Pandemic Diary


Issue Editor’s Note

COVID-19 came and demanded urgent understanding. Strange as it is, this way of talking makes the invisible visible. To this end, we inscribe upon it, structures of our making. Yet, there is this uneasy feeling that the virus does not care for our structures. It does not play by the rules of our ‘universal’ reason or our humane emotions. It just borrows the machinery of our cells to multiply its being, which consist of a rudimentary chain of proteins. So rudimentary that it is broken down by bubbles of soap. This miracle of simplicity has disrupted our complex moves; we misstep and falter. It rides on and weighs down the terms of our self definition, the terms of sociability. Read more

— Aribam Uttam Sharma


Waiting for Galahad

by Jobeth Ann Warjri


by Robin S Ngangom


Tala Nangi Oyokkon

Visual/Video by Chaoba Thiyam

The Old Man by the Lake

Photo Essay/Essay by Kumam Davidson

Migrant series

Visual/Artworks/Drawing by Satyabrata Hijam


Reclaiming Time with Aribam Syam Sharma’s Imagi Ningthem and Ishanou

by Natali Ningthoukhongjam

This year’s March did not begin right. The familiar incongruous blend of Yaosang and board exams was tinged with the growing fear of a disease that was almost visible at the horizon. Till then, it had mostly existed in news reports and memes featuring Mexican beer and aeroplanes with masks. I went out to see a concert on the fourth day of Yaosang. Later, after shaking hands with someone I was meeting for the first time, I cleaned my hands with a sanitiser. That night, I read a status update on Facebook that roundly abused the fools celebrating the festival in groups and crowds. There were no reported victims yet...


“Touch me not”, A Quarantine Story

by Rubani Yumkhaibam

What a bummer! Being killed by a stupid virus!
Goku’s dialogue (Dragon Ball Z)

In Dragon Ball Z, when Goku, the major protagonist of the franchise, returned to Earth from the Namek planet, future Trunks, another protagonist, told him that he (Goku) would die of a heart virus in the near future. Goku, one of the Earth’s bravest fighters, was unimpressed. True to his fighting spirit, Goku did not want to die of the disease, he would prefer to die fighting. I consider Goku’s statement as an important metaphor of my condition at the quarantine centre I stayed for 14 days – I needed courage to overcome some of the most miserable situations at the centre...

To my daughter

by Bobo Khuraijam

Dear Naobi,
I saw the girl speaking on social media. She must be of your age. She spells out her anger well, with guarded words. Such poise. I thought she would burst out with anger. But no. I feel good that she could speak up. Wonder how her parents must be feeling. The cowardly creature who spat on her face must be celebrating. Somewhere in the dark Delhi lanes. He must be sharing his spoils of spitting on a ‘Chinese look-alike’ girl among his friends...

Theatre in the Time of Crisis

by Rojio Usham

Was there a time with no crisis at all? Can one appreciate art without a crisis? Can an artiste keep silent in the time of crisis?
Manipur has been living with crisis for many years. AFSPA has been part of our life a long time now. But it has not deterred our creative faculty. Rather artistes have produced more creative arts in this land. Art in a land of crisis can never be the same as art in a more peaceful place. Moreover, Art in a period of global crisis can never be the same as in more stable times. It could be remembered that Khongjom Parva emerged just after the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891...

Barefoot in the Garden

by Debanjali Biswas

As lockdown laid bare the unpredictability and newness of everyday, my life seemed indistinguishable from an ordinary March day to the other. One early morning, my eyes followed a rather talkative bird in the garden. It was scruffy, bluish-black and pecked at some seeds that I may have spilled during my gardening endeavours. The bird was a starling. It noisily chirped and hopped about the hedges. As I continued to trowel the soil, some wood pigeons flew above me, cooing. A chaffinch joined in from the roof of the garage. I sat still on the ground with peaked ears. Listening out for birdsongs quickly became a favourite part of the lockdown...

Brahmanical Supremacy and Workers in the Time of Pandemic

by Chandni Mehta

We seem to be living in times that are haunted and shaped by long enduring structures that keep getting dramatically revealed and then dissolving into the mundane, recently exemplified in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While complex histories and everyday plays of power and their contestations can alone make for a robust understanding of our present, this article was provoked by the compelling force of structures as hauntings that seize and arrest everyday life and moments in history...

Lockdown 2020 - Ground Notes

by Rulee Phukan

The masks were yellow in colour, kept in a transparent plastic bag. As we prepared for our Sandakphu trek, we combed for it in our rented apartment in Jatia. Six months ago, I moved into this apartment (after my marriage), not more than 500 metres from the home I grew up and lived for 30 years. For many days in the beginning, I would often locate my home from the terrace and bedroom balcony of our apartment. Each time I went to the terrace, I would spot the whitewashed walls in the hill towards the north, and a figure - usually moving, who I had often thought to be my father as he would mostly keep busy in cleaning the house and its premises...

Cover art by Satyabrata Hijam