The pale blue sky grows even paler as the late afternoon sun slowly dips behind the skyscrapers lengthening the shadows on the almost empty streets.
The supermarkets are pulling down shutters after another day of good business. The shoppers stand on the porch, their carts frothing over with odd boxes and fabric bags, broccoli and fruits. Fruits. Citrus. Good to fight the flu.
They wait impatiently for their cars to arrive. After all, the "curfew" will begin soon. They keep rolling their wrists to glance at their expensive watches. Adorned with masks, gloves and some of them even in protective gears, they look like aliens.
This another group of men and women look at the shoppers from a distance, expectantly and yet not really believing anything will happen.
A woman, definitely not a beggar and most probably a part time house help only until the other day, finally breaks the line. "Diben? Dia jan. (will you give me anything? Give before you go.)"
More voices rise. "Den, Den." They don't even have the energy to speak in full sentences, just a repetitive drone, "please, please".
The shoppers grow even more impatient. As the cars roll in, they quickly huddle inside. Their chauffeurs breathe heavily in their effort to load all the shopping inside the car boots.
The cars depart one after another. And a few of the begging men and women get a few ten taka notes thrown in their way from the half-rolled windows. Social distancing is all that matters.
But it only matters with the class. Not inside the malls where they jostle and push one another for the last minute purchase.
Outside, the kids are there. Seven, eight, nine or ten years hardly. They always are there, hang around the supermarkets, preying on the guilt complex of capitalism.
This kid in a pale blue half-shirt had only one balloon. A blue one, incidentally. Usually he carries many of them, approaching the shoppers, especially those with children, and repeats insistently "Nia jan. Babu khelbey. (please take one. Your baby will find it fun.)"
But today he has only one balloon. He has learnt the meaning of lockdown, in a different way. In the way that he can sell only one of those inflated rubber things, if luck smiles.
Today, his blue balloon flops in the air from the plastic shaft he holds. In a lockdown, nobody has time to waste.
The boy walks away. His blue balloon makes the sky look even paler.
The men and women sit on the road divider and chat among themselves. They don't know where to go and what to do now that the shops have closed.
"Chol jai gia dekhi oi murai khabar dai kina (let's get to that side of the city, they may be distributing food there)," one woman says.
The others don't feel any itch to move. They just sit there, looking at the pale blue sky, staring at nothing with broken hearts.
How can you mend a broken heart? How do you stop the rain from falling? How can a loser ever win?
Somebody called and said it was Thursday evening. Tomorrow is Friday. A new revelation now, without much meaning. No meaning, actually. And it takes a long time to decipher why somebody should say it is Thursday.
Somehow, the days have merged with each other, like the pages of your stamp collection book lying in the damp corner of the room for a long time. Now you cannot separate Sundays from Mondays. Tuesdays and Wednesdays have become days cloned in some cosmic laboratory. Thursdays and Fridays just impersonate to be any day.
Thursday nights meant speeding through the highways. To known and unknown territories. The dimly lit villages already in slumber would flash by. The blinding high beams of the rushing buses. The wild wind whistling through the half open window. Thursday nights meant freedom. Shiver of excitement. Smell of the unknown.
Now Thursdays are fused with Fridays.
And Fridays? Nobody knows how to spend it. So with a strange awakening I discovered I have started doing Shilpa Shetty's yoga classes.
And the whole day long I just lie on the bed and look at the piece of pale blue sky.
The silence is tattered with the non-stop whistle of the purple sunbirds. They are jumping all over the cherry tree in the garden opposite my window. The tailor birds are also there, making that tinkering sound all the time.
In the mating season, the pale blue sky makes no impression on them.
At night somebody calls from Canada and starts chatting about how the next year would come out as a completely new order for the world.
"Capitalism is gone. China will rise, I tell you. The exchange for trade will change. Yuan will rule the game. Buy Yuans if you can. You can make a windfall, I promise," his voice pours from the messenger.
It is already six o'clock and the pale blue sky is slowly emerging from the darkness.
Another promise of a pale blue sky day, for us all.