My cousin, the know-it-all procrastinator,
Would rather host barbecues in his backyard
Than sit at the shop his father bleeds his pension for.
My uncle, tomorrow-man’s father,
Plays cards with his gang in the alley all day
For there’s no social distancing at the office.
The socially distanced animal’s brother,
l’homme de la littérature,
Has canceled his gym membership
(one must not work out masked!)
And has long unmasked dinner chats
With the pretty lady down the street.
The immunity conscious pretty lady,
Doctor’s wife and too good for our town,
Nibbles on sushi and stuffs her enamoured husband
With last night’s leftover seekh kebabs.
The French littérateur’s woman,
President of Gossipers Anonymous,
Holds the weight-watcher’s witch trials at her place
To avoid the evening rush at the vegetable market.
The diabetic doctor, husband of the alleged witch,
Sermons at-risk gluttons on weekdays
And on weekends attacks the crowded corner bakery
Armed with insulin jabs.
The baker’s wife who’d rather keep
Her twelve children out of school than risk infection,
Crams them in the lorry headed for the market
For she needs no less than
The baker’s dozen to carry her ingredients.
The lorry driver who won’t wear a mask for
Forbids his wife from visiting Gossipers Anonymous hotspots.
The lorry driver’s wife,
Sulking at her overanxious tobacco-chewer,
Vents out by inviting her aunts and sisters from across town
For risk-free lunch at her home.
One of her sisters,
Nurse and my mother’s friend,
Gladly accepts mother’s invitation
To bring her kin over for dinner at our place.
My mother, furious at my precautionist father
Who didn’t take her out shopping
And went to play cards himself,
Insists that I bring my band
For an acoustic set at the ladies’ dinner.
I, fully aware that gatherings
Must be avoided for the good of all,
Am slipping out at dusk
To have my poem peer-reviewed
At my know-it-all cousin’s barbecue.
Ankit Raj is a former software engineer, rock band frontman and assistant professor from Chapra, Bihar, India. He teaches English at Government College Gharaunda, Karnal and is a PhD candidate at IIT Roorkee. He has poems published/forthcoming in Trouvaille Review, Roi Fainéant Press, Seafront Press, Brave Voices Magazine, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Discretionary Love and Bullshit Lit, and has a short story forthcoming in The Broadkill Review. Ankit's research articles have appeared in Routledge journals and he is guest editor of the upcoming "Myths, Archetypes and the Literary Arts" special issue of Essence & Critique: Journal of Literature and Drama Studies. He tweets @ankit_raj01