Fifteen Minutes at Home

The Sea-Link, as viewed from a beach in Mahim, early in the morning.

Fifteen minutes – I set the timer after squeezing a few drops onto the test kit.
Did I hope for it to be positive? Sooner rather than later, I thought.
“Everyone’s going to get it,” the WhatsApp forwards said; the pessimist in me believed.
I had a flight to catch in about two weeks. Back to skipped meals and disturbed sleep.
I could recover by then, I said, attend classes in the correct time-zone.
And I had my family with me. Warm love and flavorful food – I can bear being isolated for two weeks.
But I was home; the optimist in me remembered. I will be alright. Have to be.

I haven’t met my friends yet – the ones I have longed to see; the ones who aren’t down with covid.
Also, the ones who make this city my home.
I played football—onscreen and on the field—with some;
explored restaurants with others;
saw most Marvel movies with some;
saved myself from spoilers by ignoring others;
went to school & college with some;
survived my first job with others;
dated some;
walked by the sea with others;

Ah, the sea, I said. There was nothing to see. 
Barricades all around it; a new road to reduce traffic, it seemed.
It won’t be the same next time, the realistic in me whispered.
The city will be different; your friends won’t be here – not most of them.
The city won’t be home anymore. Just a place you grew up in.
But family, the optimist argued, they will be here.
Until your sister comes of age, the pessimist said.

So what? The realist chimed in. Everyone has ambitions. Everyone wants to explore, not just you.
But that’s not my point. I’m thinking about me, I say.
But you should think about them. It won’t be home for them too.
And wherever you meet them in the future, you’ll always have home to remember.
Remember, I repeat. I was supposed to remember something.
The timer had lapsed. I grabbed the kit.
The optimist, pessimist, and realist in me prepared to spew their shit.

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