Sal: I can’t fix you.

Nate: I don’t expect you to.

Sal: What about that wound?

Nate: It’s not like anyone can see it. I’ll hide it under my skin.

Sal: I’m writing a story. The protagonist in my story is the World… wounded, complex.

Nate: Who's going to fix your protagonist?

CHAPTER FOUR
DREAM IN ORDER
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Love in a Time of Pandemic
The he-Lion and she-Rabbit in Sharlene’s anthropomorphic tale are romantically linked. With the onset of the pandemic and ensuing social regulations, their professional lives (he is a concert pianist and she is a health worker) are subject to upheaval. His concerts are cancelled rendering him professionally redundant while she in her medical service, becomes essential.  

The existing strains in their relationship are exacerbated by the strange effects of the day as the couple individually confront their thought-lives in relation to each other. 

Sharlene’s piece is revelatory of the fragility of our unions and the turbulences that underlie life and love. In both, it is hard to predict when catastrophe can strike.  

Filmed in London and set within the context of Covid-19, by virtue of Mister and Missus Lion & Rabbit, a couple of News Anchor Monkeys, a Symptomatic Hedgehog and a slew of other mask-wearing plush animals, Sharlene maneuvers between personal and pandemic politics offering us a kaleidoscopic story of love (and tragedy) in a time of pandemic.  

The arts in all its range of expressiveness reminds us that we are vessels of stories. We are blood, water and stories. Sharing and listening to each other’s stories is one step closer to paradise because it takes us one step outside of our own private hells.
Natalie Hennedige

Millie: Justus, are we on the brink of disaster?

Justus: I will need to be in quarantine for 40 days and then I will come back.

Millie: 40 days is excessive.

Justus: It’s symbolic. Quarantine, from Latin quaranta. 40 is the numeric symbol for purification.

Millie: Like the 40-day flood in the book of Genesis that washed away every human who defiled the earth, which was every human, to purify the earth. Like that?

Justus: In 40 days I will come back to you purer than I have been.

CHAPTER ONE
WAITING
Artist KIRSTEN TAN

NOVELIST
SHARLENE TEO

NADA Life in a Cloud
In these unusual days, I have been dreaming
about the small animals I once owned and fussed over. Long forsaken, but never forgotten! The flocked plastic norms of childhood. More than once I stuck a paw in my mouth and chewed. A rabbit, a bear and an elephant walk into a bar. And then what? They never leave. Black beaded eyes both silly and serious. Computer voice. Playtime! Worktime! Nighttime! Daytime! Time gloop. Outside the window ducks scream along the canal, so rudely they almost rupture the rhythms of sleep. Long shadows crowd the corners of the room.
A rabbit, a bear and an elephant walk into a bar. And then what?
They never leave.
They never leave.
They never leave.
A rabbit, a bear and an elephant walk into a bar. And then what?
They never leave.
They never leave.
They never leave.
Creation
Essential Animal
by Sharlene Teo
NADA Life in a Cloud
Artist
Statement
Under the looming threat of Covid, a lion and a rabbit struggle to cope with the struggles of cohabitation, social distancing and what it means to be an essential animal.
Sharlene Teo
is a novelist whose debut novel Ponti won the inaugural Deborah Rogers Writer’s Award, was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award and Edward Stanford Fiction Award, long listed for the Jhalak Prize and selected by Ali Smith as one of the best debut works of fiction of 2018. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize and her non-fiction has appeared in publications such as the TLS, LitHub, Tate Etc, Wasafiri, The London Magazine and the upcoming Sceptre Books Anthology East Side Voices.
CHAPTER FIVE
Artists KAYLENE TAN & PAUL RAE