Our first summer in London will now always be about this virus. Today while walking by the Thames I got a whiff of India in the air. The same summer heat rising from the ground, the saltiness of the water hanging on every surface, the same languidness that only sultry afternoons seem to possess. Sometimes these days, being in the present is a concentrated effort of willing. So I will myself to read the inscriptions on the empty benches facing the river. Dedications to lives lived and done. An old lady with two walking sticks shuffles through the grass. On the water a speeding boat, men in orange life vests. Runners push against the dry earth. And me in my grey fedora hat and sunglasses moving ever so slowly through them all. White fuzz from a tree falls in downy clumps making it improbably feel like snowflakes falling in summer. A few more airplanes than usual pass by overhead.
The vegetables we have planted in sacks on the cement patio are rising up daily. There are tomatoes, courgettes, beans, brussels sprout, herbs and some other things I don’t know until they fruit, because during lockdown I ordered these plantings, almost whimsically and arbitrarily from the local nursery where the waiting line to enter the site was anywhere from two minutes to twelve minutes. I would feel I was in a sacred queue waiting.
There is a lady in an oversized shirt on one of the benches, her grey hair covers her eyes, a black mask covers her mouth. She has laid out in front of her a sheet with musical notations, quibbles on a sheet that she is scribbling more upon and then gently strums her guitar again and again.