California: My dad sings Kishore Kumar songs. My sister makes goofy dance videos. My mom and I go on long evening walks every day. We eat meals together and watch movies and make each other laugh. We are a crazy family but we keep each other sane.
Well, this wasn’t the routine a month back when we came home to California for our spring break. We haven’t returned to New York since. New York is where my sister and I live.
I remember the day California first declared ‘shelter in place’. My sister and I panicked as we had no idea how we’d survive confined at home. In the beginning it was stressful coping with the very idea of a lockdown. The fact that we wouldn’t be able to pursue our vacation plans. Of going out to meet old friends, taking mom and dad out to our favourite restaurants and simply going on long drives in the avenues my sister and I cycled merrily as kids. It was simply unthinkable that the world would come to a standstill and all the noise and bustle we were used to would evaporate, leaving behind an eerie silence; broken only by news about mounting figures of positive cases and deaths caused by an invisible virus.
Now, four weeks have passed and we have adapted. My dad and I work from home and my sister attends lectures on Zoom. My mom is unemployed since schools have shut down so she cooks us yummy meals every day. I feel sad for the people that don’t have family or friends to talk to. In New York, mental health hotlines are being used more than ever by those experiencing loneliness or suicidal thoughts. Around the US, people have lost lives and jobs. Many don’t have the money to buy meals. Domestic abuse victims and substance users are stuck in unsafe homes. This pandemic was spread by the rich as they flew around the world and now it is hurting the poor the most.
Knowing this reality makes me less upset about being stuck at home. At least I have a safe home to stay in.
(The writer is pursuing Masters in HealthCare Administration from Columbia University)