by Gabriella Sonabend

Home. Salad. Warm bed. Silence. All craved. My mind is now fully saturated I am not sure if for the time being I can handle any more – thoughts, smells, senses. My lungs feel clogged, everything is filthy. I am sick again, for the fourth time now. I can’t take another dose of antibiotics; it is one bug after another. I eat apple pie and oranges, drink rehydration salts and plenty of water. I try to be good to myself, to protect my body but every time I go outside I feel like I’m being battered.

My ears accosted constantly. I can’t tell if I am very sick or simply utterly exhausted. Perhaps they are one and the same.

Jeremy has come to visit, he is part of the reason I am here. We are working together, producing an installation piece. I have told myself that this time in Banaras is a research period, I feel like I am researching my emotional demise. He is in newcomer mode, his lungs still carry air from England, he is bright and energetic He is enthused with curiosity and excitement. I can barely drag my feet beside him. I am wrecked. Standing next to him makes me realise I am very weak indeed. I am usually a force of energy and nervous creativity when I am with him. Now I am slow words and jumbled thoughts, tired legs and heavy head. One hour walking the ghats and I need chai, I need apple pie.

My body wants rest – I give it sugar as a compromise. I continue to paint. Even my brushstrokes are lazy and slow. Home, will it feel as warm as I imagine? A large red sofa, soft dim lighting and a floor so clean I can sleep on it. An oven. Avocados. I dream of sitting in a bathtub listening to music. Will the streets seem eerily empty and will I feel invisible when not every passerby stares into me?

I am in a rickshaw. It is very dark outside. He takes backstreets that I don’t recognise. I am afraid.

The roads are being dug up again. The streets look like they did when I arrived. Am I imagining this? I feel like I’ve gone back in time but with a heavier heart, a sad wisdom. The roads, again and again the roads. The city continues cycling.