As one of the many Indian students at the school, I was able to go back home for the spring break, quite excited at the thought of having a stress free week, away from all the academic pressure. Little did I know that my junior year was about to hit rock bottom.
There is no way school’s going to close. I remember thinking to myself in the midst of the World Health Organization’s announcement that the coronavirus outbreak is a “pandemic.”
Quite outrageous, I agree. But now, three weeks later, I sit in my room in Ludhiana, Punjab, sharing my current situation under a nationwide lockdown.
A few days before the lockdown, I was surfing the net when an article caught my attention. The heading was “Jim O’Neill praises China government’s virus response: ‘Thank God [coronavirus] didn’t start in somewhere like India’” This clearly implied that the country would never take strict measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
But the Indian government was ready with a plan that would make the front pages of renowned publications. With less than 600 cases, on March 22, India had already announced a day-long Janta curfew which soon extended to three weeks. However, before the new announcement could be published in newspapers, Punjab’s Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, had already declared a statewide lockdown until March 31.
It seemed as though they had weighed all the rationals behind the situation, which by the way is very unlikely of them to do considering how corrupt and selfish the government officials are, and decided “precaution is better than cure”- except there is no cure as of now.
The night before the Janta curfew, my family and I were out buying groceries, believing that it would last a couple more days but nothing more. Although many stores had already shut down and grim silence loomed over the street corners, there were areas bustling with cars and bright lights flashing at me as I glanced at street banners and restaurants.
Not much seemed unusual. In fact, I had hoped to be hopping back on the streets within a couple of days even though social media was flooded with memes about the struggles of being quarantined. The situation did not seem as tense as it has become.
High expectations do not last long and neither did mine.
Two days into the three-week lockdown, my family and I decided it was best that we send all the house helpers back to their families who reside in the same city. And a day later we were stocked with all the dals, rice, and wheat necessary for the time period.
I have been following Narendra Modi’s guidelines and have stayed well suited at home. Not stepped a foot beyond the fences of my house but have observed people going out for evening walks even as in some states police are beating civilians to death for stepping out to buy milk.
As days pass, the situation is becoming uncompromisable– even at home.
“Wash your hands! Stop touching your face!” I find my mother yelling all the time.
Most conversations my family and I have, revolve around the virus. This is mainly because COVID-19 cases are not just in Delhi, Maharashtra, or down south anymore, they have reached houses of neighbors of my family and friends. With the rapid growth in the number of cases in Punjab itself, when I notice pedestrians on a walk, trying to maintain their physical health, it is shocking to see how inconsiderate they are of the government’s effort to protect its people.
There is not an instance where I am not reminded of the virus. Every day it is becoming harder to sit still and watch the death toll of COVID-19 rise up.
Frustration at this point is inevitable– however, I continue to remind myself that this is not just my struggle, it is our struggle.
Archita Aggarwal is the editor-in-chief of The Woodstocker
Edited by Janvi Poddar
Featured image by Archita Aggarwal