“It’s not isolation that’s killing me but the uncertainty of life”

75 days into the lockdown, but things aren’t getting better. I was one of the first ones to go into quarantine, even before an official lockdown was announced. So my span of isolation is one of the longest for anyone living in my country. As I was working in the IT industry as a freelancer, I didn’t have to make too many changes in my lifestyle. I only started living inside even more. While not much has changed inside my home, everything seems to have changed on the outside. And once you have this epiphany, there’s no going back!

30 January 2020—My country reports its first two cases of COVID-19. A lot of us had been following the news about the horrendous sights in Italy and China, and we knew this day would come when we are going to have our first positive COVID-19 case. And it did, in the January end.

Since COVID-19, health officials, and the governments all around the world are advising people to stay inside. Since I was already living inside because of the freelancing nature of my job, I was fine with the “new world order.” But I knew that I am going to miss my friends who I have loved just like my family. What I didn’t know was how I’ll be missing them like everything.

The first week of quarantine started off well. All my family and friends decided that we would be staying inside and video calling each other regularly. It was fun, knowing that there were people calling and checking on you.

But just by the end of the first month, fewer people were checking up on me. I knew it’s a two-way road and I have to be calling them too if I want them to call me. And I did, always. While everyone around me was also in isolation, I noticed that video calls weren’t helping them much. I mean, they weren’t helping me much too, but I knew I can’t despair physical touch and miss the next best opportunity to keep my sanity.

While I was having a comfortable, work-from-home living, many of my friends had lost their jobs and not found another one. For them, it was more about surviving unemployment than COVID-19. For others, it was about surviving both. The worst part about all of this: the uncertainty of when things would go back to normal. When it all started, a lot of us believed that it would end soon within a couple of months. The government had made promises about jobs and all. And in India, there are no unemployment benefits. So you are on your own if you don’t have a job.

COVID-19 is silently killing people but not just from the virus itself but from unemployment, deprived physical interaction, and an overall sense of uncertainty.

But there’s more to the story. With an influx of emotions, people aren’t willing to stay inside anymore. The public’s patience has been tested and a couple of months were enough for that. Any government that has failed to come up with desirable results so far is just failing with its COVID-19 policy. When it comes to India, it has been awful. It has been worse in all poverty-stricken and feeble healthcare countries, but India’s high population density and the fact that India’s 276 million people live under a $1.25 per day, clues only that India’s $260 billion relief package isn’t going to be much help even if it’s delivered effectively. Pardon, my agglomerated thoughts. But every piece of our lives seems to be out of place. I might be overthinking but I haven’t lost my mind over this.

People who are privileged enough to stay inside should not take it for granted. Let’s not overburden our country with any extra COVID-19 cases.

There’s uncertainty everywhere, but that doesn’t mean we all should give up and stop taking precautions.