Storm Warnings - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1718658

Storm Warnings

This is not a letter to complain about PSEG Long Island. There are enough of them, many completely justified.

I am a 74-year-old man living in Suffolk, hopefully, living out the last years of my life. During the storm, I watch the trees on my lawn swinging wildly, listen to the roar of the wind. Hear dimly a tree crash to the ground nearby. Sirens of fire trucks. Rain sweeps onto my windowpanes. Thunder rolls.

My dim eyes, somewhat hard-of-hearing ears, take in this crisis upon COVID-19 crisis with a sense of mild anxiety: How are we going to cope without electricity? How will utility workers repair wires with masks on, an impediment to breathing?

My wife leaves her favorite couch in front of the TV, looks gloomily at the gloomy sky, anticipating gray unrest with her large, restive eyes. She announces the obvious: the storm is here.

Trees crack. Winds groan, and sigh.

Time has traveled with a single purpose of waiting. The novel coronavirus, the new sentinel, waits for us, to take us away, the old folks of little value. Secret currents flow through the air, and through our hearts. COVID and storm, storm and COVID — the order doesn’t matter. They both come on, defying silence. Regardless.

My wife draws the living room curtains as the sky goes black. She lights the candles, both in prayer and as proof against the dark. The storm talks to us through keyholes, whines through the cracks in the doors of this old house with an old couple for tenants. Our sole defense, these dilapidated doors and windows. If they go, we go.

Why blame PSEG? It’s almost a week after the storm. There is no electricity. Candles die in mist. We are not strong enough to get new ones. The attendant has long stopped coming because of COVID. And now, this.

I realize dimly that we have time in our hands, but we have no control over it. All we can do is foresee (with fading eyes), and avert. Thermometers and barometers can only foretell what is certain. They cannot alter. There are no proofs against the inevitable. The winds will rise. We can only close the doors.

Soon, there will be another storm — in November. In that, too, the lives of old folks will hang in the balance. Will there be another Trump(et) call to announce our death knell? Or will we be kept on life support, “Biden” time?

Storm warnings.

(Readers may notice echoes from Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Storm Warnings.” It is entirely intentional.)

Shivaji Sengupta



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