Reflecting on the COVID days when I faced challenges as an Asian and experienced acts of bullying, I find myself reminiscing about the day I left India, just before the nationwide lockdown was announced. Looking back, I feel fortunate to have made that decision. Today, I share my story, a journey marked by fear and uncertainty, but also resilience and hope.
As I made my way to the airport, the atmosphere was charged with panic and urgency. The sight of a bustling crowd filled me with apprehension, worried about the potential exposure to the virus. However, deep down, I knew that staying in India might not be the safest option for me, given the racial discrimination I had encountered due to my Asian appearance, despite not being Chinese or having any affiliation with China. With this in mind, my priority was to seek refuge with my family.
It was on that day, the exact date eluding my memory, that news of the impending lockdown in India reached my ears. Acting swiftly, I contacted my embassy, and their unwavering support and kindness shone through during that period of panic. Following their advice, I promptly reached out to the airlines, contacted the airport, and took all necessary measures to secure my journey back home.
Thankfully, I discovered that my flight had no impediments at that time, except for its immediate departure. The situation was chaotic and frenzied. Without hesitation, I informed my parents of my plan and hastily booked the flight ticket, even though it came at a steep cost. Price was inconsequential then; what mattered most was the prospect of reuniting with my loved ones. Serendipitously, I also chose to leave my job on the same day (though the pandemic was not the sole reason, I must admit).
With everything in motion, I bid a brief farewell to my friends in India, knowing they understood and supported my decision to leave in such haste. And now, finally, I find myself at home, surrounded by the warmth of my family’s embrace.
The lockdown in Indonesia mirrored the measures taken in other countries. As an introvert, I found solace in the solitude, and adjusting to the lockdown posed no significant challenge for me. However, what I do miss dearly are the cherished moments spent with my closest friends in India. I feel immensely grateful for having left India early, unlike some of my dear friends who remain stranded there.
One particular friend, an Egyptian, endured more than a month of uncertainty in India, unable to secure a flight back home while the country remained locked down. Her journey to India was originally intended for work, but the company abruptly terminated her without prior notice. Furthermore, I contemplate the predicament of my supportive Indian friend, who, due to the immobilizing impact of the lockdown on transportation services, finds herself stranded in Amritsar. Despite her urgent requirement to return to Delhi for work, she remains unable to embark on the journey. They sought refuge in Amritsar for a duration of approximately 74 days, and remarkably, they managed to find solace and contentment even amidst such challenging circumstances. Their Instagram stories exuded joy and merriment, consistently evoking laughter and leaving me in high spirits. While I anxiously prayed for their safety, they created cherished memories, while I, from a distance, observed with admiration.
As I yearn for the end of this pandemic, I hold on to the dream of making our promises to each other a reality, whether it’s meeting in Goa or any other place we desire.
In closing, I implore everyone to prioritize their safety and well-being. Let us remember the significance of physical distancing during these unprecedented times. Together, by adhering to these measures, we can accelerate the end of this pandemic. It is then that I can joyfully fulfill my promise and eagerly reunite with all of my dear friends.
As an entire year has elapsed, life has gradually settled back into its familiar rhythm. Engrossed in our respective work and studies, we found ourselves immersed in the busyness of everyday existence. Yet, amidst the demands of this new reality, a deep longing arises within me. I yearn for the opportunity to reunite with my friends, reminiscing as I peruse the photographs and videos that encapsulate our shared experiences. The memories evoke a profound desire to see them again, to return to the enchanting land of India.
Although life remains beautiful, both then and now, the current state of affairs fails to satiate this longing within me. I eagerly anticipate the day when I can once again embrace each and every one of my friends, relishing in their company and cherishing the bonds we share. The prospect of that future reunion fills my heart with hope and joy, as it holds the promise of rediscovering the profound beauty and warmth that exists within the realm of friendship.