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e a r t h q u a k e: a social gathering

By priyanuj

PROMPT — No one noticed ...

i ran into e a r t h q u a k e during an earthquake.

one’s more potent, make no mistake.

my sanity evacuated faster

than neighbours down the elevator.

where i live, earthquakes are a social gathering -

the only time you can’t avert the disaster

of looking into each other’s eyes.

i haven’t seen you in so long.

you mean how eyes glued to instagram in the elevator,

you strangle my amour propre with a “will talk to you later”?

you see me every evening, you don’t see me at all.

how’ve you been?

you mean the walls amplifying my les cris at night?

in the morning, casually mentioning a friend’s demise.

i’m fine, i’m still alive. i’m not fine at all.

how’s work?

you mean the diatribes on facebook you ‘love’ react to,

circumvent confrontations by never reacting to?

work gives me purpose; work leaves me no time for purpose.

didn’t you sleep well last night? those dark circles!

you mean the dark circles i draw over and over for my escapism -

from your slavery, a schism between reality and surrealism?

movie night: killer story, helps me not think about mine.

you seem jittery, what happened?

you mean before eerie obscurité thundered my nights?

even when i dance, i’ve to switch off the lights.

i’m building myself – a brick at a time. time’s got no time - building collapses.

do you wanna talk about it?

you mean handover whatever leftover santé mentale

there is – go on, take it all; be gentle, i’m sentimental.

you robbed me; you didn’t steal a thing.

e a r t h q u a k e can get away with murder -

not the kind where she smothers me

to death. she merely

takes off the oxygen mask, so she doesn’t

have to complete the task

of killing me – i die little by little.

where i live, earthquakes are a social gathering -

even human-brought ones.

e a r t h q u a k e’s a social gathering too -

of all my rubble in one place.

*Photo credit: Shivani Ranga.


priyanuj is a 24-year-old novelist and poet, having completed his MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University, London, in 2020. An official finalist at the Dante Rosetti Awards 2013 in the YA Fiction category, he is currently working on a novel and a collection of poetry, both exploring the complexities of identity and mental health, in his hometown Guwahati, India.


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