This recount is as of 20th March 2020, my second day of self-quarantine in Mumbai.
A lot of people have reached out to me after my last post, expressing their concerns about the self-quarantine and lending support. Thanks tk everyone who was kind enough to reach out. I hope everyone stays safe.
Given the questions I received, I’ll explain the dynamics of the self-quarantine.
I’m currently confined in a closed room, ventilated through windows that I rarely close so as to not let any infection fester inside. This is as per the rules of self-quarantine that were handed to me at the airport after the health check.
The room has an attached bathroom and toilet, and only one door that connects it to the rest of the flat.
The room has been equipped with nearly everything that I will need for my 14-day confinement. Dish Soap to wash and disinfect the dishes, phenyl to clean and sanitize the floor and surfaces, hand wash and alcohol based sanitizer to regularly wash my hands with. All other stuff like shampoo, soap and grooming items were already with me in the bags I brought back with me from France.
Now for the family dynamics, no one is allowed to open the door leading to my room except me. When my mother provides food, it is through disposable plates that are left on the table placed directly outside the door. She knocks once and backs away (she’s always wearing a mask for this routine). I open the door wearing a mask, pick up the food and shut the door immediately. The disposable plates are thrown into a bin provided to me with dustbin bags.
For everyone who read through the above paragraphs, isn’t the whole routine robotic?
That brings hardship number 1. The forced distance from family members, especially my sister.
Prior to this, I’d met my mother when she visited France, but I met my dad about a year ago when I was in India for a week.
My sister however, I met her for two days early last year at her hostel and I can attest to the fact that it is excruciatingly difficult to maintain the distance, especially when the whole family is home.
Family days are usually spent on movie marathons and games of scrabble. All of which have now been rendered impossible since they are forbidden to come in contact with me. This was the reason I ensured that no one would be allowed to open my door on their own. The restraint rests completely on me and I need to stand strong now more than ever.
A while later, typical jetlag and boredom sets in. It was during moments like this that I hit gold.
Apps have taken over our lives, most of us have at least a few dozens of apps installed on our phones. Did you know Monopoly is available on the Play Store? Scrabble as well?
My whole family now has these games. The internet has triumphed once more. I spent a sizeable amount of my day yesterday searching for games to play with my family. Currently we’re playing Uno, Business Trip (Monopoly is a paid app) and Scrabble. If anyone has recommendations, I’d be happy to try new apps.
All in all, my sister and I spent hours upon hours playing games and when we weren’t playing, we were on video calls.
She even helped with my jetlag, when I couldn’t sleep, she read out stories to me while on video call and shut it off (or so I presume) when I fell asleep.
Another excruciating factor is looking at my parents through this ordeal. The relief in their eyes is only tempered by their utter helplessness of the self quarantine. As a very affectionate family, it is really difficult for them to distance themselves as if I were carrying a plague. But better safe than sorry.
The last factor was video calls from my friends who remained in France. The situation is so much worse out there and it is almost heartbreaking to see people confined to their homes, unable to live the lives they’ve fought to have.
As children, we’re told not to be lazy, to keep busy, keep working, but there is only so much you can do sitting in a tiny studio with only yourself for company in a world that is slowly disintegrating around you.
Yet, in the face of the overwhelming negatives stacked against us, we smile, albeit tiredly. We smile because we must. As one of my friends said – We didn’t come this far to only come this far.
I have understood that it is of prime importance to keep oneself positive. Am I happy about my situation – not really. Can I help it? No. So why bother stewing over it.
14 days, now down to 13 as of yesterday, will hopefully go quickly and then I will be able to mingle with everyone again with no fear of me being a carrier of this deadly virus.
Until then, I’ll stay strong because I must. For anyone reading this, stay safe, stay indoors.