Last night, I dreamt I was in quarantine again. Someone was gargling.

Good timing, really. The morning after we were officially released from quarantine, I celebrated with a haircut by my pal Taufeeq, who now visits his customers instead of operating his salon. As I sat there with clumps of grey floating off my head, the renewed freedom like a breeze across my face, the phone rang. By now, this is an old friend: the Pune Municipal Corporation, calling to check on us.

They did that every single morning of our two weeks inside. On the call, a very pleasant woman asks if I have fever, or a headache, or more than four loose motions today (at 9 am?); another very pleasant woman takes over to ask about pulse and oxygen levels. All this, in one of three different languages. My kids and wife pronounced that the women are “sweet”. I wonder about what this virus wreaks on my family. Because the women are not really women, just recorded voices.

Still, after each of their questions have drawn from me a response that speaks of my boringly normal state, they tell me, “You have no symptoms today.” Though once something went slightly wrong and two questions...

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