Nonfiction from Sarosh Nandwani
after the cataclysm, my parents, rightfully paranoid, hoarded almond milk and cashews. no fruit, dad said. this is like being back in Pakistan. there, we do not eat anything cold because that is where the viruses flourish. if it has not gone in the microwave or the air fryer or the oven, it will not be eaten.
my parents clean everything down to the neglected space behind the washer and dryer. when mom comes home from the pediatric clinic, she immediately changes clothes, praying the virus dies faster in the hamper. she puts a shower cap on her hair, where dad says the virus lingers.
I think I miss the strawberries and blueberries the most. before, I used to chop the strawberries and pop slices into my mouth, wait for the tart to make me pucker and the sweet to coat the roof of my mouth. did you put some strawberries in your bowl of whipped cream? mom would ask me, after I aerosol-ed my strawberries.
when dad arrives from the pediatric clinic, mom has already laid out a few Walmart bags and Lysol outside the house. the bags are for his shoes and socks. the Lysol is to be sprayed all over the driver’s seat. he walks in, acknowledges us with a distant air hug, and shuffles into the shower.
the blueberries I would put in the freezer. they would come out sounding like marbles but tasting like soft candy. once, I dropped frozen blueberries all over the kitchen floor, and it sounded beautiful.
one night, dad thinks harder about where to get PPE. his patient sewed him a mask already, but there are no disposable scrubs. he gazes down, thinking. he puts a single finger up, and I nearly expect a lightbulb over his head. he makes disposable scrubs with a garbage bag and a stapler.
yesterday, I asked mom if we could buy frozen blueberries and strawberries, or if we could wash them in vinegar. she said the ones that are washed in vinegar or already frozen wouldn’t taste the same, an ersatz version of fresh, juicy ones.
the worst my parents used to come home with was a cold.
Sarosh Nandwani is a mechanical engineer and anthropologist, and is particularly interested in the overlap between those subjects. She loves experimenting with her curly hair. She is a reader for the Longleaf Review, Anomaly Lit, and Periwinkle Literary Magazine.