Tariq, 44

“SPACE MAN”
COVID-19 seems like a saga without an end. Our prison is experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 Delta infections. Talk and rumors of new restrictions are everywhere. The recently resumed limited visits have once again been restricted to being held outside under a canopy. And all religious services have been curtailed and religious classes are cancelled until further notice.

People outside are screaming about cabin fever, and in here, well, I guess we are just barely holding on to our sanity. That is why during nights I am spending more time than usual at my cell window staring at the outer-space searching for some consolation.

Admittedly, I am getting tired of it all. The pandemic “believers” and “deniers” are always at odds. And logic in here and outside seems like a fleeting commodity. I often find it hard to just be in a moment without conflict. So, to quell that uneasiness, I look at the heavens, searching for some solace.
Looking at the stars from my window has always provided me with tranquility and peace. I see my regular celestial companions through the misty dark sky, twinkling, playing that never ending game of hide and seek. A game, I still enjoy playing.

I always try to look at the bright side of things, but I must admit the last few months have been very hard. COVID-19 reached my house. My mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all sick. And hearing their labored voices over the phone had left me with a feeling that I can’t explain in words. I felt desperate. My little nephew and niece also had symptoms but with the Grace of God, they recovered and rebounded in a few days. My father too, who is almost 80 years old, with multiple strokes and other serious health issues, was spared. As of now, they are all vaccinated; yet the new Delta variant is still a palpable cause of concern and has left my father in particular more isolated than the other family members.

“I am imprisoned too,” my father stated awkwardly over the phone. “your brother is like a jailer. He is always trying to keep me inside.”

“He is only looking out for you, Dad,” I attempted to defend my brother. “You know he was sick too. He is just trying to look out for your health. We need you around for a while, old man.”
My father just laughed that uneasy laugh, leaving me wondering whether he understood or was under the impression that I didn’t take his side and have turned on him as well. To me, it is a losing proposition. I feel hapless, and helpless – like a floating spaceman.

Indeed, it has been a very tough year and a half in every possible way. And, in reality, I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over. Sitting by my window, looking out beyond the stars, I can see a quiet darkness. I wonder if out there anyone has any idea what is taking place in our planet. Space is so very spooky and scary, yet inviting too. I am amazed by its magnetism.

In my thoughts while looking out my window, I often transpose and see myself in space. With a lifetime’s worth of Sci-Fi books and TV shows about space exploration in mind, my trance-like state is so vivid that I can almost feel weightless. Flying about in the heavens, seeing nature’s light show, it is liberating. Yet, in theory, I am also aware of its hazards and pitfalls. Because losing control up there, well, it can be extremely total and can lead to a very uncertain end.

In a way, our lives on earth are quite similar and losing control can lead to a tragedy. Life here also has its own gravitational pull, dangers and dark-holes. I for one can speak to the validity of that notion. As a prisoner, I lost control a long time ago. Now with every fleeting year, I am like an astronaut who lost his tether and broke off from the space station. I too find myself flying through the cosmos, unable to do anything or control anything. I can’t change my trajectory, my direction, velocity or vector. I am alone, and in control of only my body and mind, and nothing else. Years, months, weeks, days and hours pass, and further away I get, bleaker and lonesome it seems. Like that lost soul in space, with every ephemeral day, I find myself too far removed. Alone! And the probability of a return seems exponentially improbable.

Yet, hope is a science of possibilities. And the gravity of discovery has its own invisible pull, one full of blind optimism. So, until my time runs out, I shall buckle down and enjoy the ride.
Till next log entry,
Space Man out!