person in black long sleeve shirt

Paranoia Unlock!

It has been four months since I have seen the daylight. My skin has gone pale, and my eyes have gotten used to less light. The pandemic has taken a significant toll on me. I kept myself locked inside my bunker of a house. The doors only open when my groceries are delivered. My living room has turned into a sanitation station. I have arranged germ sprays which I used to clean the grocery bags and myself for touching them. Then I go inside, and I take a bath with some Dettol in the water. I also made my balcony a washing station, equipped with germ sprays and sanitisers too. I have my windows shut, and the sun burns me. I live on artificial D vitamin supplements and the oxygen released by my indoor plants. 

I have already stopped contacting more people since Chicken Pox attacked me. The worst thing a human can do to the other is not a backstab, it is being reckless and passing on germs. What mistake did I commit? It was supposed to be a birthday party, and the guy who thought he had a fever felt that he was doing us a favour. He thought it would be cool to appear to party even being sick. He did not even consider carrying a handkerchief. He also shared cigarettes with me, who did not know his sickness until he told me at the end. What a douche! He did not just pass me an expensive cigarette it was also a rare virus that I had no immunity for. All the others already had the disease when they were young, and I never got exposed to it; hence, no antibodies. 

The germs remained with me. They got on to the cigarette, I have ingested them directly into my body by puffing them in. There was a battle going inside my body, and the temperature was high in less than a week. There were blisters almost everywhere on my body; my beautiful face, my tender pecs, biceps, thighs and even on my feet. My back that recovered from my teenage acne got attacked with something bigger now. It has been two years now, and the scars remain. I’m now embarrassed to wear sleeveless tops, show off my lats and go topless. What was supposed to be a hot thing only to be soon followed by sympathising looks and cheering-ups that I don’t need. My face somehow recovered, and so did my front side of the body. But my back is still a horror show of spots that won’t fade away. The thing I’m about to say has nothing to do with all this. But this is the consequence of being reckless about a fever. The heroic act of a douche traumatised me that ended up killing my esteem. I feel like Deadpool, I guess I look like an avocado without my shirt.

So, no humans! No kisses too, I can pleasure myself; I’m self-sufficient. I have been going out but to enjoy minimal pleasures like eating outside, carnivals and festivals. But no social contacts that’s a ban from 2 years. You can video call me if you miss me a lot, that’s what I said to everyone. But these four months is a big thing. I’m a lot of road person for someone who does not prefer to meet people. I have been among these closed walls and dark rooms for so long, I became obsessive. I have compulsions about germs getting to me. My body suffering from more than just blisters is my worst nightmare. But today! What a day! What a shitty day! I’m hungry, my internet doesn’t work. I am unable to order anything. The groceries won’t come till the next day, and I ate off all the supplies. I kept drinking water, but it has been 13 hours. It feels like something is eating my insides. I have to go out—just this one time. But I’m trembling, and I don’t want contamination.

The government had removed the curfew, and I see people jumping on roads like apes as if the vaccine is here. They think their cloth masks are hazmat suits and they scratch their nose through their masks. No one is even wearing gloves. It is a garbage bin outside the door of my house. I can starve, I guess. Thinking of going out is making me anxious. It’s better to die starving than getting contaminated, I believe. But this one time, I can go out. I will be okay; I have the sanitising station. Okay! 

I wore my facemask, gloves and a face shield. I set foot, and a current passed all my body. The sun was piercing through my clothes. I see people with no masks. It’s crazy, it feels like everything is filthy and germs are all around me. I should throw these clothes off, the face shield too. Damn! It is like a circus out here. People in queues, no masks, spitting on roads and I can see this dude pissing on a wall few yards far from me. My heart started pounding, and my breath grew intense. My breathing was harsh that it began to form vapour on my shield. The sound!

Oh god, horns from everywhere, people talking jumping, bouncing and scratching like apes. I turned around and round and round; it felt like nausea. I feel discomfort in my stomach. I rushed towards a place that sells breakfast. It was crowdy and scared me. The cook was sweaty, and his mask looked old and worn off. I think I’m having a panic attack! My anxiety is kicking in, and soon everything became silent. I heard no sounds and the roads were empty, and cars were too—no people around me, and It felt peaceful for a moment, but the disturbance started again. The sounds resumed but were different. I hear monkeys screeching around me. Different kinds of apes surrounded me—apes walking on roads, driving in cars, honking at each other and yelling at each other. It was apes that sold breakfast and apes that bought them too.

The boards of shops were changed. “Fresh and warm COVID-19 at 35 Rupees only” the board of breakfast read. I could not understand what was going on. I turned around to see a fast-food centre. It’s menu board read COVID-19 80 Rs, Typhoid 60 Rs, Dengue 60 Rs and so on with many diseases that are still running their course in India. One hairy ape with glasses on went to the fast-food dealing ape and asked “What is the cheap one you got?” the dealer ape said “Diarrhoea is cheapest just at 20 Rs, but only effects for three days. You can try Common flu for 25 Rs; it makes you feel like shit for a week” the ape with glasses smiled and ordered one common flu. I don’t have an option; I have to choose among one. Would I select flu? no, it weakens my immunity. “Brother pack me some Diarrhoea” I yelled. The ape packed some Poori – Korma and gave it to me. I held the packet and started moving back to home.

I had to stop because a prison bus was going and the road had jammed. I can recognise the prison bus by its colour, but there was something else written on it. As the bus neared me, it became more apparent. “Hepatitis, AIDS and Syphilis center for criminals” it read. Nothing made sense anymore. I walked back into my apartment. Something inside me couldn’t take the Diarrhoea packet inside. I just threw it in the bin. Luckily for me, I found my mobile connected to the neighbour’s WiFi. Why didn’t I think of this? I ordered some vegetables to cook myself a good meal. I entered, removed my clothes shield, mask and gloves. Threw them in the bin that was inside my apartment. I sprayed the chemicals all over my body. I tied a towel around my waist, and tied the cover of trash inside the bin, threw it out. I went in and had a good bath.

The vegetables are here, and it is time for me to cook now. I arranged everything I need to prepare, I took the veggies out and put them on the chopping pad. I jumped, looking at the worms crawling on the cabbage. I just stood there, my eyes wide shut!

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Manoj Sri Harsha

A filmmaker who's also a philosopher and I have always been a writer. My urge to tell stories have provoked and boosted me to write my thoughts out as words, sentences and essays! I treat storytelling objectively and would always try new things to tell any story in a different way. Big fan of the Avant-garde!

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