‘Skies Not Blue for All’
Bharati Jagannathan
JAMLO WALKS by Samina Mishra Penguin Random House, 2021, 30 pp., 250.00
October 2022, volume 46, No 10

‘It is day 7 of the lockdown and everyone says the skies are blue again.’

This is the first sentence of Jamlo Walks, spread over two pages against a blue backdrop, a calendar with the dates from the 24th to the 30th of March crossed out, and a few leaves of an indoor plant beside a window looking out into a blue sky with some wispy clouds.

I have read Jamlo Walks before, and I know what to expect. I have reviewed it too and, as a reviewer who generally demands a lot of a book and wrote perhaps my most appreciative review for this one, even wondered some months later if I had allowed my emotional response to overpower my critical faculties. Wondered if it would stand the test of time, if it would remain meaningful after say, a year or two. And then I opened the book again, today, to be hit by the first sentence like a tsunami.

We—the entire world—have experienced various stages and varieties of lockdown. The sense, in 2020, of living through truly unprecedented times yielded to the nightmare of the delta wave in the summer of 2021 which was particularly cruel in India. Life seems to have returned now to pre-COVID normalcy, well, almost, and it is time to reassess a book which captures the raw horror of the very first lockdown when the chattering classes shared videos of wildlife roaming urban streets over WhatsApp while ordering stuff online.

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