As I type this out, I am wondering which day of the 21-day lockdown today is. I honestly have no idea. Third? Maybe fourth? I wonder this as I sit in my cushy living room in a secure house with people to look after my daily needs. I have the privilege of wondering when college will resume, when cafes will open, when Amazon will deliver again, and when travel will be allowed again. And as I think about those, I do not have in mind even the remotest possibility of not surviving this pandemic.
I realise my privilege, for that to not be of any concern for me. As soon as my college sent an order out asking students to return, I booked a flight home, paying more than three times the cost of the usual air-fare. It stung a little, but only a little. My family’s only concern was that their child should get home quick, and safe. And that I did. Now, almost 10 days after the order, I’m at home, writing about what it is like for a college student to be quarantined at home. I had a full brunch and I will have a full dinner, with snacks sometime in the evening.
In the last few days, it has overwhelmed me multiple times, the sheer lack of impact the lockdown is having on someone like me. I read the news about migrant labourers having to walk home after their contractors told them there would be no work. It is unfathomable to me. How are they supposed to accomplish that feat? Where will they get food and water? Where are they going to sleep? How are they going to wall all that distance? And will they even survive their journey home? Even if they do, what guarantees that they don’t carry the virus and spread it in their home-towns?
I have the privilege of wondering when college will resume, when cafes will open, when Amazon will deliver again, and when travel will be allowed again.
Nothing. Nothing and no-one. At a time of an international crisis such as this, the non-powerful have been little more than dirty wash-rags to the powerful. You usually need them, but they can be disposed of anytime you want. They have been completely abandoned by the government that their votes built and they have absolutely nowhere to turn to.
I also recently subscribed to a lot of Instagram pages that put up regular updates on these current issues. I go through their stories and they are never ending. Story after story after story has news on medical staff lacking equipment, police brutality, racism, people scrambling to get home, people stranded in terminals, deaths, and recently, the terror attacks on Sikhs in Afghanistan. Sometimes it gets too much for me and I just skip to the next story and watch someone’s throwback photos for the next few seconds as I try to push all that news out of my head.
Amidst all this chaos, we also see people and organisations coming up to help. Most services only cater to the well-off section of society but donations have been pooling to help arrange food for the poorer sections of society too. Apps like Amazon has made all non-essential deliveries unavailable and food delivery apps are trying to assure their customers that their food is hygienic and are also providing no-contact deliveries to people’s doors. A lot of pages are offering mental health support for the affected, their families and anyone else who needs it.
STORY AFTER STORY AFTER STORY HAS NEWS ON MEDICAL STAFF LACKING EQUIPMENT, POLICE BRUTALITY, RACISM, PEOPLE SCRAMBLING TO GET HOME, PEOPLE STRANDED IN TERMINALS, DEATHS, AND RECENTLY, THE TERROR ATTACKS ON SIKHS IN AFGHANISTAN.
People with privilege are keeping busy on online platforms to pass their time, and to keep in contact with the rest of the world. It might get annoying for some people but they have to see that being active online is helping a lot of people keep their head above water. When we were suddenly sent home from college, my greatest concern was packing. Not that I had to pay three times the flight fare, not that my classes were on hiatus, not that there would be a lockdown, but that I’d have to pack and drag my luggage all the way to the airport. Or so I thought was my biggest concern.
The first few days at home were strange. I had nothing to do, nowhere to be, nothing to read. What I also didn’t, was worry about my survival. At all, but that wasn’t playing in my head just then. I stayed up late, woke up late, barely walked, binged on Netflix shows, and most of all, I wanted to talk. I had nothing to really talk about, mind you. I just craved some contact, a little affection. I wasn’t even sure from whom, or what all I was feeling was even about. Maybe it was the abrupt halt in the ongoing semester or maybe its just a result of all that has happened this year, starting late last year.
All of it has been way too much happening. We are living through historical times. This is what students will read about in their history books in the future. A year of political, environmental, religious, economic and natural disasters. This is what I would call a disaster’s jackpot year. But through all of it, through each and every single one of it, I have been safe. I have not had to worry if my survival was at stake, if I’d have a roof over my head or food on my plate. Even now, I’m doing good. I am spending my time reading, embroidering, talking to friends and writing this article. And I am grateful for the privilege I have that lets me be this way in the midst of a global crisis.
Featured Image Source: Haaretz