The Fourth Day by Navid Shahzad is brimming with imagery that leaves the reader drenched in their own imagination. The text indicative of a life scented with fragments of an imaginary character, a life in isolation even before the pandemic, brings to life a stark contrast with the lives of the neighbours, the grocer, the office workers as well the landlord through the protagonist’s death. Couldn’t help rereading the story to hear echos of a conjectured character brought to life through the protagonist’s imagination, while the writer was busy bringing to life the universe surrounding her.
The Garden Spy: A Diptych by Aamer Hussein brings fore dullness amidst the colours of flowers. An existentialist’s painting in words, portraying the world in its extreme abstract and absurd form. Inability to pray, suffering, uncertainty, life and death, distance in space and time, relationships both freezing and thriving, words against the painting (Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe); all presented against the flowers, hinting at hope blooming in the present, and as in the past, or as in the future if there is one.
‘What a Time to be Alive’ by Rumana Husain is a story about an extrovert finding peace in recluse and selective company. Having the external world shut down with the lockdown due to the pandemic, needing to let go of superficial routines and meet ups, lets one contemplate on one’s internal voices previously silenced. The dizygotic twin protagonists sharing confinement in their separate areas is reminiscent of their human existence, a beginning in the womb. It is a new world that they must look forward to, hopefully a better one.