Am I Audible?

Pyjamas paired with a formal shirt

Hair neatly combed

Power on

Camera on

Unmute

Hello! Am I audible?


Leave meeting

Power off

I stare at my laptop, eyes like the screen, dead.

Hundred WhatsApp conversations, none in real.

The four walls are closing in on me.

I desperately search for a sign of life.

It is a funeral out there with empty streets and locked gates.

I too have mourned in here.

I recite prayers for the dead,

and lower the casket without a second look

because I know

If I open it, it will reveal my face, pale and lifeless.


On my office desk, I had a plant,

Red flower sitting on it like a button

My desk was decorated with chai stains and tokens from office parties

Today, at home, I throw my coasters away.


Power on

I see the world through a 14-inch window,

Coming to life when I press the power button.

But no one sees me unless I let them.

When I do, I don’t show them my pyjamas

Or the messy bed, or empty plates.

I hide away my loneliness behind a virtual background

And my camera pixelates my wrinkles.

It is easy to pretend like I am not my only companion.


Power off.

I trace my wrinkles with a finger

And wipe off the concealer to show the bags under my eyes

I look in the mirror and scream.

I scream at the walls and the curtains

Can you hear me? I am hurting.

Again. Louder.

Hello? Am I audible?

A voice pops up in my head,

You’re muted by the host.


By Shambhavi Deshpande

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