Corona Times: ‘Let It Rain & Wait For Sunshine’

Everything was normal for me, my husband Sachin and two lovely daughters, Sara and Sia or shall I say routine till the first week of February; From the weekdays hustle to work, school pick n’ drops, weekends and social gatherings.

On January 28, a friend in Canada called to say there was a coronavirus case in Mississauga, Ontario. On February 7, another friend told me about the virus in Singapore and that she had stopped sending her children to school. Singapore was in the Orange zone in early February. We shared her heightened concerns and asked her to take necessary precautions.

Things came closer to home when I got the first mail from Fremont Unified School District about how we are in low risk of the coronavirus and that the situation is being constantly monitored. There was not a single case in Alameda county as per the County Public Health Department till then. Obviously, at that point of time, it was beyond us that coronavirus would become such a pandemic and spread across the globe so fast.

I remember a Chinese woman sneezed near me when I had gone to pick up Sara from the school on February 20. She literally begged pardon and assured that she had not been to China since a year. I laughed and said it was okay. 

In the following weeks, we discovered that the novel coronavirus was the talking point at our Little Mom’s Club meetup. Schools were closely monitoring the situation and were sending regular emails about updates. The advisories were about self-quarantine in case one had returned from China, washing hands, and covering one’s mouth while coughing. We were still wondering if it was that serious until March 2. A few parents started panicking and were skeptical about sending their children to school, but because of the truancy issue, I was still sending my children to school.

It was on March 13 that schools all over Alameda county sent notices for closures till April 5. The teachers gave homework sheets, materials, and workbooks to be finished with email instructions. 

The much awaited Holi events and all gatherings were cancelled across the bay area. The heat was clearly coming on as all outdoor activities and my Zumba classes were cancelled too in the same week. We were all home. Sachin too started work from home. Anticipating a scarcity, I rushed to the grocery store. To my dismay, I was greeted with quite a crowd at my regular grocery store, the kind I had not seen in my entire nine years of living here. Half empty and completely empty shelves were another sight I was not used to. We gathered stuff for a month and the county declared ‘Shelter in Place’.

Into the first week, we felt it was an early spring break. We were happy with this leisure. We played board games in the evening with the children. In the mornings, the girls woke up a little late. They started the day with making art or crafts with me. I finished my painting, which I had started long back. Finally, the space above the couch in the living room looked fuller.

The second week too went by. We watched the news and monitored the situation. Social media was flooded with pranks and all kinds of messages about coronavirus. I refrained from reading and believing whatever came about the pandemic. Instead, I started and tried out another routine for us. 

Sachin was as usual too busy with his work because of the new  situation. I planned our meals with minimal ingredients, tried a few new recipes and let the girls do some baking and cooking with me. The teachers from elementary schools started teaching each day for a few hours through Zoom. My Zumba instructors also started virtual sessions. I was beginning to feel some semblance of balance.

The third and fourth week were tedious. I had to explain to my toddler why we couldn’t go out and play or ride a bike even if it was sunny and bright. My elder one came to my rescue. She told her little sister that corona was a monster virus and it was lurking outside so we must stay home to be safe. I included the children in my dance sessions to give them a little workout. Sara was busy in the mornings in her virtual classes and her book club meetings. I had to  play dough making or splash painting with Sia to keep her busy. Things were now coming to a standstill.  Sachin and I went out for walks in our neighborhood in the evenings and were met with empty roads or an occasional dog walker.

By the fifth week, it already felt like we were cave dwellers. Cooking, eating, and sleeping being the primary tasks of the  day, with a bit of TV and phone thrown in. But one good thing was that we reconnected with many friends all over the world. We started group video calls fixing the day and time, which worked for different time zones. It felt good. We exchanged our views, memories, and ways to relax the children and fun ways to engage in the lockdown. Movie lists were made or highly recommended games for game nights were discussed with pros and cons.

It is now week six as I write this and I am desperately hoping that this ends soon. I tell my children there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Honestly, I had never imagined how it was like to be locked in your own home, life taught and I am living it. Without schools, offices, and a social circle it is more like the same day every day. The children are demanding food more out of boredom than hunger. I know the board games cannot replace the outdoor games they played in the park and virtual book club meetings cannot ever be compared with the fun and laughter with friends.

Some of the states in the US have still not implemented ‘Shelter in Place’ and that has caused a sharp spike in the number of the infected and deceased.

Yet I am furious with China. It is like a third world war being fought with an invisible weapon. I am upset over the fact that they didn’t shut air travel in Nov/ Dec 2019 when all this started. Well, looking back and analysing is not the solution. Thousands of people die every day here in the US and the rest of the world. The devastated families could not even meet or see their beloved ones for a last goodbye. It makes my heart ache. I also know the only chance to address this is social distancing and staying at home till a proven medicine or vaccine comes to our rescue. But the situation is overwhelming. The social being is not doing very well at practicing social distance.

But I know the key is to be grateful for being with my family. I also remind myself, “Sometimes there is nothing you can do but let it rain and wait for the sunshine.’’

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