This short story by Anukrti Upadhyay is a poignant observation about the new normal or life- post COVID as it is called now.
Every one stood apart from each other. With faces sheathed in masks resolutely turned away, they waited, balancing bags, babies and fatigue. All eyes were trained on the old man who slowly waddled back and forth between the automatic gates and the anxious queue. A toddler cried at being held fast, an old woman sagged in a wheelchair, people rolled their shoulders and bent their necks to relieve warps, twists and knots. The child screamed louder, twisting and thrashing in her mother’s arms, till she managed to slip out and race towards the gates.
Several pairs of eyes darted looks at the small figure running past them pumping her little legs. No one made soothing sounds or stepped out of the queue to go after the child or spoke to the distraught mother. A young woman in a trim uniform guarding the queue grabbed the fugitive’s plump little arm with a gloved hand and, eyes unsmiling, delivered her back to the mother, still crying lustily. The people in the unmoving queue remained unmoved.