Vasanth Kailasam’s short story with its gripping narrative is a heart-warming tale of characters next-door who share their lives in the story.
“You shall not pass!” Gandalf roared, thumping his staff on a narrow bridge and releasing a sheet of blinding white light. Guhan squinted at the laptop, watching the movie in his pitch-black bedroom. At the same time, a faint voice came from somewhere else, announcing something, and unmistakably mentioning the word coronavirus. He jumped out of his black swiveling chair, tossed aside his fraying earphones, and rushed to the living room.
The polished teak wood of the sofa and chairs gleamed under the white tube light. The half-open windows blew in an earthy scent from the mountains to the west of Thottanur. Dressed in a white vest and a lungi, his father Sekar was eating idlis and watching the news. A young woman read out the updates on the coronavirus cases in Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu. She belabored every single coronavirus-related news item, only to inform at the end of it all that the current restrictions for inter-district movement remained unchanged. Guhan dropped his head and shook it from left to right. He leaped out of the way when his mother Shanthi carried past him a steaming pot full of bubbling yellow liquid. The same old smell of mung bean sambar wafted in the air.