The start of the pandemic was shocking for me as was standing in front of the very essential level up of my life - I was applying to higher education. Let me begin with something good. I had already reviewed my IELTS certification on March 6, before everywhere was closed for quarantine starting from March 15, 2020. That was the only achievement that got me into an American university. But what about finishing compulsory education? The quality of education is seriously dropped, and many of us missed our additional lessons for preparation because walking outside while quarantine costed rocket high. One of the pity things for me was that I and all of my friends couldn't have the graduation ceremony and party that we expected to be unforgettable memories. Overall, no high school or lyceum graduate couldn't experience it in Uzbekistan. Whenever we visit our school or lyceum in May for graduation ceremonies and look at graduates we feel like: "Yeah, they're having it". The worst feeling ever. We are seven in my family. My grandparents are over 80 and my parents are also quite old. I have a brother and a sister who are schoolers. Covid hit us significantly as we experienced it multiple times during the period. My father had a very severe type. He managed to get well at home because we were sure there weren't enough places at Covid treating centers. After him, I. High temperatures were a real burden for me and antibiotics were too difficult to come over for my stomach. However, thank God, other members of the family felt Covid like simple flu and just several doses of treatment immediately got them on their feet. One of the bitter truths about the family I realized during the pandemic is that too much family time is harmful to the inter-family relationship. I wanted to run away somehow. At the times when everyone worked and studied far from home, at the end of the day we enjoyed the family gathering as we missed each other. But in quarantine, we were fed up with each other. One interesting fact, the number of divorces increased during the quarantine in my country. I live in the countryside, almost 2 hours from the city center and during the pandemic our town became dead. Not a single body was outside, most of the shops were closed, and the hospital which is at the end of our street was supervised by military forces. Every 2-3 hours there were military cars along the street informing us not to go out at certain hours of the day and how to take measures and behave while we are outside. It was scary that it felt like a commendation regime in war periods. I was seventeen and this environment caused me to experience severe depression without any hope for my bright future and online lessons caused my eyes side to drop, and gave me early back, and heart pains. It felt like my body got older by 10 years but in front of my eyes, time barely passed. About after 6 months, when quarantine rules pretty eased down and we were finally allowed to visit the university, I felt some significant changes in my receptor organs - my tongue and nose. Things start to taste differently and smells just turned off. I was eating food like from another planet and for additional five or six months, I missed the real taste of meat and fried potatoes. Still, I start recognizing the smell two or three times slower than normal people, and eggs, greens, and cucumbers still taste different than it was before the pandemic. Starting face-to-face studies and communication with peers was very precious for me. However, there were sad stories too. Two of my peers who had been accepted to Japanese and Korean universities couldn't get there due to quarantine in both countries. Moreover, some girls told me that they lost loved ones and even family members during the pandemic. After, hearing them I felt grateful for all I have almost haven't changed during the pandemic. Bonus sad story by me: my family won the Green Card DV-2020 program but due to quarantine our visas expired. Now, everything we spent getting into the US is just burned, nothing left. Yes, now everything is just passed away and all we have now is mostly memories and unforgettable life lessons. So, what I learned from the pandemic is very precious to me. Firstly, I started to appreciate the freedom that is given to me and learned to experience more gratefulness. It wasn't all about the feelings, too. My hard skills also improved even though I have learned them online. That might be too much, so let me conclude. The world is not sure if Covid-19 is just spread by bats or if it was an unfinished biological weapon, one thing is obvious we are just killing ourselves and slowing down our evolution. Curiosity kills the cat, I hope we won't appear in the place of that cat again.
As the pandemic's shroud fell over the U.S. in mid-March 2020, my wife just fortuitously enough happened to have started a new exercise program online – something called “Peloton”. With the “stay at home” orders and much more coming into effect, and a lot of our work/school immediately going virtual, working out at home all of a sudden became a real family activity. The pandemic accelerated our entire family participating in these Peloton online workouts, with all of us regularly doing yoga – driving a significant interest in health & wellness from our 11 year old boy/girl twins. We exercised so frequently that my children started clamoring to purchase the Peloton Bike – with its rather massive cost, my wife suggested that the children put together a Powerpoint presentation/business case, outlining the ROI of purchasing such an item. Unbeknownst to them, we had already purchased one – but their presentation sealed the deal! The skill of performing online research, putting together slides and (most terrifyingly for my daughter) having to present to her father made for a great experience for all. Much of our kids' research was conducted on laptops that they had to purchase as virtual schooling started. In the early days of the pandemic, I decided that the family would need a non-stop stream of entertainment, and moreover found that there was a treasure trove of items online, so quickly became my family's “Arts & Culture” Department. I scoured the Net for activities that the family could partake in, while exposing them to the performing arts. We started with a screening of the original Broadway musical “CATS” (Andrew Lloyd Webber version) which my kids weren't too fond of. I then found a performance of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as my kids had never seen/heard a classical music concert before. Our daughter is fond of singing, so we enrolled her in a virtual Met Opera camp - and wound up watching 1 or 2 Met Opera performances. In-general, I did anything to expose the kids to various forms of the arts, while also being somewhat entertaining and rather different from the usual “NetFlix/movie night” that many fell into. This worked for quite some time – though not without consternation from my kids, who began to tire of the random series of events I'd have planned for us to experience (all of which I would then donate to online – as these artists would be posting their work online gratis since all live performances were cancelled). My wife played along to my whole shtick and served as a cheerleader. We also realized that technology had changed the paradigm for summer camps– we had no need to only look at Dallas-based camps for our kids, my wife told me. And that's all she needed to say. Beyond the Met Opera camp (which was based out of NYC), our son participated in a basketball camp with the NBA's Orlando Magic, having assistant coaches in Florida berate him over Zoom as he did pushups in our driveway at 6am! My daughter learned all types of arts & crafts from curio store vendors in San Francisco. My niece started a virtual cooking class from her home in New Jersey that our kids participated in. The highlight for me personally was when my wife & I joined a group of folks on Facebook Live to follow a Parisian baker – on Bastille Day – as she (and we) made corn brioche. As all this was occurring, I remained locked-down in our closet – literally! My days of travelling around the U.S. for work had stopped, and our master bath closet was the only place I could work where I wouldn't disrupt my virtual schooling kids, or my physician wife (who was now big into telemed in the home office). I realized the power of the Internet when I posted a picture on LinkedIn of working from my closet (using our ironing table as a desk and my sock drawer as my laptop area) which elicited over 10,000 views. Plato famously stated that “Necessity is the mother of invention” – and since we had to stay indoors, we worked to dramatically reinvent ourselves – with technology. From virtual exercising to arts & culture to global experiences to working from the closet – the pandemic for us has led to a greater familial happiness and togetherness that we didn't have pre-COVID. To underline this, our daughter told us her birthday (in Apr 2020) was the “best birthday ever”. How did we accomplish this, you ask, in the midst of a global pandemic and pre-vaccine availability? With technology! Sure, my wife & I had decorated the house – but we also coordinated 3 Zoom meetings with family, that totaled nearly 200 attendees from 5 countries. She also spent her birthday on rotating FaceTime/Houseparty calls with a series of friends, getting 1:1 time with each. So much has been written about the negative impacts of technology (especially over the past 12-18 months) – but as you can see from our family's experiences, there are a myriad of ways that technology can bring happiness, even in such an uncertain time.
It was a very long groundhog day. It all started in March when schools, courses, play stations, cinemas and all possible places where everyone could get infected began to closing up. The school hadn't worked for a month. These economic crises have been continuing for now. Some branches were opened off the record. Mostly, computer clubs or bars were running themselves unofficially. To be clear, anyone who had offline business couldn't have made a lot of money.Before pandemic our city was quite polluted because of contaminated air.And my friend's friend recommended to buy masks to filter the air.Even though it did not help a lot,I bought 60 masks for 2100 Kyrgyz soms.Half of it was black and the other half was white.Then one mask costed 35 soms.In period of pandemic I sold some of masks for really high price.It was one of the safest masks for breathing.I gave masks to the store which is in our yard.By the way store owners were my neighbors.So,I offered them this idea and we made a deal.One mask costed 500 soms and you could use it for a month.So masks were sold out.It was really good idea and I embodied it.I don't know why I did this because I didn't need money.I didn't even spend this money.I think it was not even to make money,but simply to implement the cool idea.Once we tired to sit at home and went to walk.And we were shocked that there was no one in the street.Fresh air like in mountains,trees were much greener and livelier than before quarantine because no cars were being driven,so no traffic jams and unclean gases which cars produced.After this,you begin to appreciate nature and become more friendly to the environment.Also we had curfew after 8pm.To be out,after curfew without permission was to risk punishment.In the summer 2020,I got sick of Corona virus.I'd been ill for three days.Firstly,you feel weakness but everybody have different types of symptoms.It seems to me that after the Corona virus,everyone became weak and lazy and began to forget all events.Perhaps,these“everyone”were my grandparents.They started getting older.I visited them everyday,so I noticed it then.But in general,in my family no one had been sick with the virus for a long time.Then school started.This was the moment where very groundhog day started.My school was online, and it was quite bad.I studied at usual public school.I was in 8th grade.First of all,I thought that we are going to study on zoom with cameras,but most of lessons were on Whats App.Most of the teachers just sent video tutorials for a topic of lesson and sent exercises.So they didn't teach us.Some teachers didn't even answer to my questions.All we needed to do was register ourselves.So everybody liked doing nothing.That's why I decided to change my school.It was quite easy to study for me so at the end of 8th grade,I finished it with excellent marks.To be honest,I sometimes cheated.So,the first rule is to learn by yourself and not to wait until someone forces you.At winter I bought one game and played it for whole winter and spring.Cinemas and all possible branches began to be open.Of course, they had been closed and opened for many times,but by the summer everything was open.Every week something new came out,I mean movies,games and serials.After sitting at home and not doing absolutely any sports,I got hypodynamia.After taking two-weeks of massage therapy at 8 am on the other side of town,I started to exercise frequently and became healthier.Everyday was alike.A looped day is like in which you wake up and try to do something interesting and looking for something to occupy yourself with.It was very boring at home so I tried to do everything.Everyday I walked and rode a bike.I replayed all my video games,board games,started to learn math,all school objects and read all books.I could do all stuff and hobbies that I couldn't do before quarantine.One year of sitting at home gave me more opportunities and free time to build a plan or think about future but I didn't do anything. I just lied on bed,watched YouTube,played games and did some useless things.It's hard to control your will or future because there is a lot of temptations in life which divert you from your goals and aims.Only strong people can upgrade themselves and fight with laziness.So laziness is killer of your aims.To be honest,I won my laziness at the end of spring 2021.Also my eye vision became very bad to end of the year.To cap it up,results of pandemic had been bad.But there were also many good sides.I think it was a break or pause to think and do what you couldn't do before.It was challenge for people, everyone perceived it differently.Relationships between loved ones got improved.Personally,I began to communicate more with relatives.During this time,some people slowed down and became lazier.Everyone has spent this pandemic in their own way,fun or sad,productive or useless.As if the time had stopped for the humanity,to look back at their mistakes,to slow down and to understand the main value of life.
Do you know why I wanted to write about this topic? There is nothing in the world like the smell of hot bread made from natural wheat flour and baked in a hot “tandir” (Uzbeks bake bread in a special oven made of clay)! Especially if this bread is covered with the loving hands of your loving mother! This process may seem simple to you, but the smell of hot bread has become unforgettable for me due to one incident… Beautiful spring. However, due to the quarantine caused by the spread of the coronavirus, no crows are seen on the streets. My family (me, my husband and my little daughter) and I live in a rented apartment in one of the city's apartment buildings. The reason for the pandemic is that we almost never go out of the house. We only go out when we need to (usually my husband does). In the apartment across from us lived an old Korean woman (she spoke to us in Russian). He took his dog Niki for a walk every morning and evening. My daughter loved playing with Niki. The old woman lived alone. From time to time the old woman would come to see her sister, who was standing a stop away. I used to hang a bowl next door to my neighbor while I was cooking delicious meal. We did not leave the house due to quarantine. Of course, we barely met our neighbor's lonely old woman. One day my daughter Malika and I opened the door to go outside to pick up trash. The door to the apartment across the street (the old woman's house next door) is open. I was surprised. The lonely old woman would never leave the door open. At the sound of our footsteps, Niki looks out the door with sad eyes. When he saw us, he jumped out of the door and started walking around us. I thought Nicki was happy to see Malika. But for some reason Niki began to lead me to the open door, biting my anxious skirt. I was really scared to go into my neighbor's house. At that moment, a thousand thoughts crossed my mind. Then I gathered my thoughts and decided to go home. As far as I can see, the poor old woman is exhausted and helpless. Looks like she haven't tasted meal in a long time. We immediately called the doctors. At first we thought the old woman had a coronavirus. Fortunately, he was not diagnosed with the disease. She had high blood pressure, dizziness, and fatigue. He left the door open so that no one would know when I died. We also admired Niki's intelligence and dedication. Without him, his master would have died. We often took out food for the old woman, and for Nikki as well. Soon the old woman recovered. One day the old woman said to me, "Dilya (that's what she called me), if you go to your village, bring me a loaf of hot bread baked in the tandir, and I want to smell the hot bread". I said with pleasure, "When I go to my village, I will bring you hot bread". Days passed, and the air became hotter and hotter. When you go outside, it burns like a hot oven. It was the arrival of summer. At this point, you want go to cool places and relax around the eastern stream. Fortunately, quarantine restrictions in Uzbekistan have been eased. Now it's time to go to our hometown. We were very happy with that. On my way to the village, I was overjoyed to be able to bring hot bread to my neighbor. We had a pleasant weekend in the village. My husband was called to work because the quarantine restrictions were relaxed. I immediately went down to bake hot bread. I hurried to town, hugging two loaves of hot bread. As I went, I imagined how happy she would be to give the hot bread to the old woman next door. Little did I know that we had come a long way with such thoughts. Here we are at our destination. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw people gathered in front of our house, and something stuck in my throat ... In the morning, the old woman died. Sorry, I didn't make it ... I burned myself, but to no avail ... Since then, when I smell the hot bread that has just come out of the oven, my heart becomes strange ...
My first reaction to the pandemic on March 12, 2020--after securing toilet paper and hand sanitizer--was to help my family and the nonprofits I was working with weather the storm. “It's only for two weeks,” everyone said. “It's going to be so much longer than that,” I said. “And, the effects will last for years.” Turns out, the pandemic itself was going to last for years. By nature, I'm a planner. I like to have a strategy. Even if crazy things happen, if you have a plan, you can pivot. The early days of the pandemic drove me to my computer. I made lists. I'm a big list-maker. I already had a solid plan in place for the nonprofits before the pandemic hit, so I wasn't worried about that. If they stayed the course and remained proactive, they would be fine. Becoming reactive would have been a disaster. At home, my parents had recently moved in with me after selling their house. They have never been worriers or list makers or planners. While my kitchen pantry upstairs was prepped with at least two weeks of food that we could survive on, theirs was bare. Up until COVID-19, my prepping was in anticipation of a blizzard or power outage, not a global pandemic. Did my parents have canned goods? No. They picked up fast food or did take out every day for nearly every meal. Did they have a supply of toilet paper and paper towels? No. Were they worried? No. I was. At my computer, I had lists of what we needed to do to get ahead of this crisis. I had never pre-ordered and picked up groceries before but in our new contactless world, it was heaven-sent. Of course, I went right to Amazon to order masks, gloves, disinfectant, and later, when I became really COVID-savvy, a digital, no contact thermometer and a pulse oximeter. And then, the world froze. No one was going in to work anymore. The stores were empty and the shelves were bare. I no longer had to think of excuses to get out of my over-committed weekends. Suddenly, there were no plans. I had everything I needed. My lovable dog, Toby, was by my side every day. I saw my masked niece and family in socially distanced gatherings from ten feet away in driveways and on decks. My friends and I Zoomed. My neighbors group texted and did porch drop-offs of freshly baked bread and goodies. I signed up for online yoga, painting classes, interesting virtual tours of fascinating places in the world, read books, cleaned my house, and watched YouTube videos on how to cut my own hair, which was not my best idea. I used to cherish days when I didn't have to drive to work, saving me sometimes two or more hours of commute time. I always wondered what I would do with extra time. Would I exercise and eat right? (The answer to that is a resounding “no”.) Writing has always been something I've enjoyed. Sometimes, if something bad happened in my life, I would imagine a story inspired by the true events. Only, I'd make it twisty. If someone was a jerk to me, well a character inspired by that person might find themselves killed off in the story, involved in a ridiculous crime, or on the receiving end of sweet karma. Or I would see something happen in real life--maybe a near-miss car accident, or someone buying a winning lottery ticket after they changed places in line, or a stray cat whose eyes told me that he had an interesting story--and I would imagine and wonder “what would happen if” and then I'd write a story about it. I never did anything with the stories and most times they went unfinished. Just the act of writing was therapeutic. I'd always said that if I had the time, I would write. Not just for work, but for fun. Write just for me. Suddenly, the pandemic gave me time--all the time in the world. I was out of excuses. So I started to write. I found a short story contest to enter. Normally, I'm a pretty competitive person. I like to win. But in this case, I was well aware that I was a novice. Knowing this was my first try, I didn't have my usual high expectations or hopes of winning. I was looking at it as a learning experience. I would see if there was any feedback--if they said, “Don't give up your day job” or “Nice effort, try again.” And then came the phone call. My story was chosen for publication in an anthology. It didn't win one of the cash prizes or earn a judges' award, but that was alright. I was going to be a published author! I know I will continue working in the nonprofit field because, after thirty years, it's part of who I am. But now, part of me is an author too. I have a plan. I can see myself, in my retirement years, sitting at my antique desk in front of a big window overlooking the ocean or a tranquil lake with a beautiful sunset in the distance writing--who knows maybe even finishing a book. But I'll be doing the thing I didn't know I could do until the world temporarily closed.
3/8/20 Picked up by M at Bathgate train station, just a few past Edinburgh proper. We didn't have time to linger sadly- barely made our connection as it was. Hoping to have time to take a break from the communal living situ and get a ride back to the station for a weekend in the city. I'm speaking for J here mainly as I think I'll be just fine in the caravan learning about herbs from a witch/forager/herbalist, her Hungarian ex husband the distiller and her current boyfriend the mushroom grower.Vibe on the train: tense. 3/11/20 ½ of the people who signed up for the foraging walk didn't show. No rain, sunny, not too windy. Perfect The water was cold and there was a crack in my borrowed wellies (meant to buy a pair in London) so the north sea trickled in, soaking my only pair of wool socks. Which is a shame - I need them at night as the caravan has a few leaks of its own. The people who did show up were eager learners and knew many plants we found along the walk to the sea. Afterwards we stopped at a cafe for a warm lunch and I tried to dry my sock under the hand dryer in the bathroom. 3/19/20 Woke to the sound of the side of the van being pelted with rocks and the urge to pee. We were up late as M set up the projector and went through a lecture she gave on lichen, and we drank homemade elderflower wine in large glasses. The cat stared at us through the window while we put on our boots and said goodnight, demanding food or attention or both, not sure which, and even as a professional house sitter, I'm afraid to get it wrong with this one. I'm writing this by headlamp at the business end of the caravan. J was her usual thoughtful and foresightful self and procured a makeshift bedpan from the main house. 3/21/20 The door to the caravan iced over from horizontal rain. I climbed out the window to chip around the lock to get J out. I emptied the bedpan, washed up and made coffee for everybody although the house is dead quiet. The ancient cat is up with me so I feed her wet food and crack the surface of her water bowl. We head to the Edinburgh Royal Botanical Garden for a class called “Seaweedopedia”. The woman who runs the events tells us about the washing protocol in a tiny voice. Every dish has to be washed before use, even if it's in the drying rack. The tables and chairs need to be sprayed and wiped. The class goes without a hitch and I feel like a seaweed expert already. It starts to rain as I'm packing up the van. I watch M's concerned face as the tiny woman whispers up to her. Once on the highway M tells me that we just participated in the last class at the Royal Botanical until further notice. 3/26/20 We watch panic buying videos and go to Ikea to stock up on coffee. The parking lot is lined with myrtle berries, so we fill up a bag. We plant dozens of seeds in tiny pots that sit under glass on M's office window sill, and clear the polytunnels. The hungarian delights in reading American news to us at breakfast, showing us videos of stupid politicians saying stupid things. They read numbers to us while we clean up. The government tells us we can't go anywhere, can't see anybody. We find that the wifi reaches the caravan, and we spend more time there working and reading from the pile of foraging books M pulled for me from her huge library. Books about mushrooms and antibiotics and ecology and how to read water. At night the projector comes out and with it the elderflower wine to accompany the lectures on mushrooms and how to identify hemlock. 4/17/20 Friday night movie night saves me. The plants save me. I talk to them like I read about in Braiding Sweetgrass. They tell me if they want to be picked. I can feel their roots relax as I pull. I pick stinging nettle with my bare hands. I drink too much. We made gin and I learned only that I enjoy the tasting part. We weigh our options going forward. No flights out, visa expiring in 1 month. We can't go back as there is nothing to go back to. I dream of slipping off tightropes and getting tangled by the neck. Our seedlings didn't take in the polytunnel and those that do, the mice eat. We bait them with peanut butter. They die of fright and we feed them to the pregnant ferret. Everything is food for something. 5/9/20 Our housesits fall through as the borders refuse to open. The birds are the only things we see in the sky. I collect pine pollen and look for fairy circles in the fields. Our bonfire was seen from space if anybody was watching. We leap over the embers in an ancient ritual symbolizing forgotten rituals. We burn back what was. Smoke obscures what we will be. We argue about the way forward, eyes burning, tears streaming. We teeter and totter over apartments in Tbilisi or housesits in Mexico. Visa extension rejected. 5/21/20 EU borders closed to Americans. Turkey will take us. The flight there feels like the check before mate. Like the first and last flight we'll ever take. Like we are learning to be at home in the world.
When I came home from my graduate program for spring break, I knew I would be out of Syracuse for more than two weeks. The pandemic was ticking up on my timeline, the Ivy Leagues were moving full semesters online, and my school would likely follow. My younger sisters, both in college, were likewise sent home. I thought my older sister would stay away. Serving in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, it seemed unlikely she would be pulled. However, she was soon taken out of West Africa, routed through Europe and the American Midwest, and brought back to New York State and to us. 2020 was the year of four twentysomething sisters, diverted, living once again under the same roof. My older sister and I have had a tense and complicated relationship for most of our lives, and I was unexcited at the prospect of bunking together in the attic. I blame her for many of my faults, unfair as that may be. My defensiveness, my intense fear of being vulnerable, my possessiveness: these I trace to her. There are a few stories I tell about her when first explaining our relationship. One is her pushing me into the deep end of a pool before I knew how to swim. The second is her taking my (very thick) middle school cell phone and chucking it at the mini Zen Garden I had bought at Dollar Tree, chipping a sizable chuck from the corner (“she ruined my Zen,” I tell people). There's the time I performed in my first school musical, and she told me: “you weren't as bad as I thought you'd be” (her version of a compliment). None of these are very bad and, truthfully, she wasn't a Very Bad sister. Yet these instances characterize my relationship with her. She was violent, invaded my space and property, and any time I was proud of something she insulted it. I kneeled; she stood on me. Even now, sometimes, I'll tell her something she did, something that hurt me way back when. “Oh that was a good one,” she'll say. She cut my favorite necklace in half and threw it in the garden. She slammed my head against the wall for eating her Goldfish. “I should write these down,” she smiles. She sprit in my hair, screamed at me when she lost her phone, hit me in front of my friends. - Everything we see in each other is colored by expectation and the need to build a differentiated identity for ourselves. We project freely and our defensiveness is reflexive. We are fonts of unsolicited advice and unwelcome criticism. There's a judgement there: we assume we know each other best (or truest) even though each one of us withholds so much. Our presumption of knowledge is not so much about events but character. As though the two are not related. We believe we know each other best and believe that none of the others really knows us. But there are these moments we decide to suspend all reality and laugh at some novel bit or deprecating observation, times when we decide not to be self-conscious and let ourselves take the jab-- we enjoy it. There are times when the joke is good, or when we willingly do favors for one another, or when we all cohort as siblings for parental leverage. There are times when the low snickering and secrecy feel nostalgic of a happy childhood. - Tonight, Julia was giggle-screaming at Rachel about a centipede which had fallen from the ceiling of her room. She couldn't find the monster and absolutely COULD NOT sleep knowing it was waiting somewhere to crawl into her mouth while she slept. She came downstairs to beg for help, asking myself and Ashley to PLEASE come up to her room, find the centipede, and catch it. I lay horizontally across Julia's bed, the flashlight of my phone pointed at the corner of floor where the centipede had apparently landed. Hanging my head over the edge of the bed to look beneath, I found: three hair ties, a barrette, a Christmas chocolate, dust, a plastic toy (this to Ashley for her enjoyment), and a Spanish-language flyer which, when moved, revealed a centipede. Ashley goading me to touch the centipede felt like I was soon to be the butt of a joke, so I made her do it instead. She assumed the post with me holding the flashlight above her. Julia had provided an empty Tylenol bottle for capture. It was an awkward angle, and Ashley was having trouble. Julia tossed me a magazine to squish the bug, but she missed horribly, and the rogue copy of The Atlantic landed near Ashley's head in the corner, scaring the centipede. This led to Ashley attempting to resign the task and blaming Julia, Julia admitting fault but BEGGING us to stay, and the centipede once again being found on the floor, opposite the side of the bed where it had started. Ashley acquiesced attempted to nudge and scoop the centipede into the bottle. The window was open and waiting for the poor creature's defenestration. It wasn't working well. “Kill it,” I said again. “Just do it.” As the centipede ran, Ashley took the magazine, dropped it on top of the bug, and gave one large, socked step. “You can deal with this,” she said to Julia.
Have you ever wondered how can we stay connected with each other, even with the strangers during these testing times, right from our homes? I feel, through stories we can connect with them even without having a conversation in the real-time. My story is about sharing and narrating stories of hundreds of people from different communities, background, profession, speaking different languages and from different parts of the world. Let me start from the beginning. It was the evening of 14th May 2020, I was watching one of the motivational videos where the speaker advised the people to not just think about something, but doing something about that thought and the initiative. This single sentence had impacted me a lot. Since the coronavirus pandemic started and the lockdown has been imposed, I had thought of talking to people about it. I wanted to know what are they feeling, what are they going through and how has it impacted their lives? This was just a thought. But, while watching the video I decided that I will do something about this thought. Many questions were going on in my mind. So, I shared the idea with two of my very close friends, Nishant and Shivangi. The idea was to make an open platform where people can share their experiences and stories. Both of my friends suggested many more things to be included and some beautiful ideas which can give this idea a practical approach. So, it started. I was the Founder and the other two were the Co-founders. We listed out the things that need to be done to launch this initiative and make this available to the people. For the next 7 days, we segregated the tasks and allotted ourselves tasks mutually in which we were better. We worked day and night, taking a sleep of not more than 4 hours each day for the next 7 days. I worked on the technical part, Nishant worked on the layout, and Shivangi reached out to people for their stories. The day came, 21st May 2020, when we launched in our small community and connections. Gradually it started spreading among people. More people wanted to join us and share the stories with us. We also started interviewing people and pen down their stories and people also started sending their stories. After sometime when a lot of people started joining us, it became more of a platform where anyone can showcase their creativity in any forms and our ever-growing community became a storehouse of ideas, suggestions, interests, creativity and talent. As a result, we started narrating stories through various mediums and platforms like podcasts, videos, graphics, etc. The mediums and platforms are increasing day by day. We have always looked for a way to align the interest and talent of any individual associated with us with storytelling. We have always believed in collaborative teamwork where members join their hands together and contribute and we come up with the final version. It is roughly 2 months since we started this initiative and today we have 54 members in our community from 6 different countries, published more than 250 stories from 15+ countries, interviewed more than 30 personalities and connected to 4000+ people virtually right from our homes. The initiative has reached 45 countries and 20,000+ people visited the stories on the website. It has also been covered by 2 Newspapers recently. We now publish 4 stories every day, release podcasts and videos twice a week and conduct helpful sessions through live talkshows twice a week. We have also released videos related to Mental health titled ‘Sadness v/s Depression' which has been viewed by 12,000+ people. The platform has stories of Doctors treating COVID-19 patients, Frontline warriors, vendors, businessman, employees, essential employees, actors, singers, athletes, RJs, and many more. The initiative is called 'The lockdown story' and it exists because, in this time of the pandemic, every story deserves an applaud. People reach out to us and share with us how the stories are helping them to heal, believing that they are not the only one with a particular thought or feeling, there are many others like them and how they are connecting directly with the stories. These feedbacks motivate us a lot in continuing to do so and expanding our reach to more and more people. I feel that this is the period which the students will read about in their history books in future. This is a very important phase in the lives of people which will be remembered for decades. By reading stories, talking to so many people and interviewing them, I have realised that this period has impacted almost all the people in many different ways and at many different levels, positively or negatively. No two people have been impacted exactly in the same manner. The post-pandemic period will change the life of each and everyone in one way or the other, majorly or minorly. So, the experiences during this period will play an important role in future to learn and to grow.
I was a normal not-so-happy 19 year old girl with so much hope for a better future and I was quite excited because exams were drawing near (crazy right?)but I wasn't excited about the exams per say, it was more about the fact that after exams, I was supposed to be going for my six months industrial training and that was a good thing because I was going to make some money plus I love being in a work environment and I was looking forward to those six month of meeting new people, being away from home and school, being independent and the thought that after these glorious productive months, I was going to be entering my final year in school after all the delays I had faced due to interruptions caused by school riots and strikes and honestly, I was beginning to get anxious about everything. On the 18th day of March 2020, my world came crashing down right before my eyes. I am not exaggerating! Ok, first, in my school, we hardly ever have electricity or television time but that particular day, we had electricity and I went to my neighbour's house to watch television and catch up with what going on in the world and just then I tuned to CNN and I was met with the most horrible news I ever heard in my lifetime and that was the fast spreading mysterious disease from China, COVID-19. The news particularly said that countries were shutting down schools and worship centres and I knew at that point that this year was going to be the worst after all. On the 20th day of March, my country Nigeria, declared all schools and worship centres closed till further notice and my mum sent for me to come home immediately. This was how it all started. Now, I knew I was going to be at home for a while due to the pandemic so I had to come with a strategy to make my stay at home less traumatic. This was going to be me staying at home 24/7 with my mum. So my approach was to read a lot and just do my chores without being reminded, basically to avoid getting in trouble with my mum. It was going on well, me going about my chores and burying myself in books and my phone just basically avoiding her. Things were looking different in a good way for me; the house was over stocked with food so there was no need to go out. I broke up with my ex whom I dated for 5 years, thing is, I never really loved him and I've never even kissed him because he schools in a different state but he was so good to me and he was crazy about me for some reason I can't still understand so I felt I should date him. After breakup, I started talking to this new guy and he was so cool we were always texting and he recently graduated from my school so he asked me out and in the spur of the moment, I accepted two days after I broke up with my ex. Almost immediately after accepting, I started to feel unsure about my decision because I knew that I didn't love him and he was a good guy, I couldn't afford to hurt him but at the same time, this was the same situation with my ex. Just then, my other ex, (my first sex partner ever, the only guy I literally ever loved but fucked things up because I get scared every time I get too happy because I feel it'll end so soon and I'll be back to being sad and the I'd feel like a fool.) he somehow popped on my phone and we started talking and I realised that I might still have strong feelings for him plus my immediate ex was still begging me to take him back and my boss was also proposing a relationship. At this point, I had to be the most confused person alive considering the fact that I'm not a person that is used to display of emotions and all, so I was kind of just flowing with everyone. Then there was an incident where my neighbour was beating up his wife and everyone was just quiet ignoring but my mum went over to their house and started a fight with the man, he threatened her and they exchanged words. Well of course, through all this, my mum never had a reason to hit us or shout or any of that up until my sister told her that she was lagging behind on her online test and that set my mum off. She started cursing her and shouting at her and hitting her also and my sis, being under attack obviously went for defense but this aggravated the situation all the more and she became physical. Cutting off my sister's natural beautiful hair and my sis wanted to leave at that point, I had to intercede and beg both parties to act reasonably and the whole situation was pacified that day. But from then, it was clash after clash between both of them and I was the middle man which meant me taking most of the punches and once more, we're back to misery. My pandemic experience so far has been horrible and I really can't wait for all this to be over or for the world to end already.
Now a disease is raging in the world, which has taken many lives with it. Before quarantine I made friends with a new girl in my class. She was beautiful, unusual, she was bright and amazing as a black sheep. Quarantine has been announced. I was bored and also felt blue , because I couldn't get along with twins. But..... One day I got a text message from my friend. I was surprised, she did not write me for a long , probably two weeks. However, she did not give me an explanation for such a long absense. It turns out that I have to complete five tasks that she wants. I agreed. At first message she said me that I should read " Little women" by Louise May Alcott. At first I didn't want to, I thought why should I read an old book, but then.... It turns out that my friend is very much like Jo, but she is more festrained. In my opinion , she also has the quality of Meg and Amy, especially Beth. I even remembered the quote :" When you feel unhappy think about what you have and be gfateful for it". But I understood the meaning of this words much later. The second assignment required me to watch Japanese anime " Grave of the fireflies". In order not to offend my friend I watched. After watching , I couldn't stop the tears. Probably, this wonderful cartoon opened the way of animation and the world of Hayao Miyazaki to me. Once it was announced that we will study at a distance , that is at home. Arter this announcement the third task came immediately " Learn to solve logatithms". I was having big problems with math. I couldn't figure out how to dolve logarithmic equations. But my friend.... She perfectly explained this topic to me , even with SMS. My friend... She did not answer the phone , even her parents ignored my calls, because of this I was very worried. When I asked why she wasn't answering my calls , she just changed the subject. But I knew that something was wrong with her. The fourth task came in which it was said that I should get along with the twins. Well, I thought it was impossible. Finding a common language with the little sisters was a real torment for me. They were capricious, cried a lot and threw their LEGO everywhere. Of course, my friend sent me "Step -by -step instructions" and it helped me to get along with them. I waited three days for the last task. This assignment was sent as a package. Opening the box, I found watercolors and brushes. She wanted me to learn how to paint with watercolors. It was difficult for me, because I drew only with pencils. My friend didn't answer me. I called her non-stop, but it was all in vain. But once her father answered me and said.... I couldn't believe it. How could this happen? Eventually, during the quarantine I learned to read the world classics, during the quarantine I opened the world of Hayao Miyazaki, I learned to solve logarithmic equations , I was able to get along with my sisters..... During the quarantine I lost my best friend. My blue-eyed friend suffered from endocardial fibroelastosis, which made her a target for the coronavirus. I would like to thank her for opening up a new world for me. Zarifa( Tooth fairy)
Like all of you know, the world is currently being shaken by the coronavirus pandemic. Many people have to quarantine themselves in their houses so that the virus doesn't spread widely as the number of infected people continues to grow. Dreadful news is spread everywhere on the television or even on social media. Doctors and medical nurses also continue to cure patients even to the point where many of them become infected. Unfortunately, I understand a bit about what is going on these days because of my horrifying experience 9 years ago. When I was 6 years old, my life was suddenly at death's door. I was looking forward to the zoo trip in 4 days but suddenly, I became very ill. My parents brought me to the doctor and in his terrifying room, I was diagnosed with a very contagious and dangerous disease. Diphtheria. To be honest, I had no idea what was happening at that time because I didn't understand the conversation between the doctor and my parents. The funny thing is, I even thought that it was my mother or my father who was sick because it was the first time I saw my parents cry in front of me. I was rushed to the hospital because my doctor said that if I didn't get medicine right away, they had to bring me to surgery so I could breathe normally and had enough oxygen. The moment that made me understood that I was the sick person was when the nurse stuck IV fluids into my hand and I cried hysterically. I was barely breathing, I lost count how many times I vomit that day, and every inch of my body hurt. I was very scared, I didn't want to die but I thought that I would die that day. I was quarantined in a small isolation room, my mother and I stuck in the room for 14 days. I was so weak, I only slept, watched TV, or stared at the only window where I could see the other isolation rooms, with other fighters in it. After 3 days of being quarantined, I saw a boy who was a year older than me, and he was going into his isolation room. He was smiling at me. It turns out that we were fighting the same disease, and his room was 20 feet away from my room. Since we met that day, we got to know each other and continued to communicate using papers and markers. Even though we couldn't meet in person, we were very eager to talk to each other because we were very bored in the room. We write words of encouragement to strengthen one another, but also complaints about our condition at that time. But mostly, I was very happy that I was not going through this alone. Every day, there would be nurse or doctors came in wearing PPE clothes to check on me, or just to give me food. Some of them were friendly and some of them were not. But there was one nurse who I adored entirely. While the other nurses entered my room just to do their jobs and didn't care how I was feeling, this nurse was very patient, she would always say loving words to make me stronger, and she usually hugged me before she did her job. I felt the comfort and the calming sincerity which strengthen me to fight this disease and be a normal person again. I didn't know why that nurse wanted to be very kind to me, but the small thing that she did had a big impact on me. In fact, I will forever owe her and remember her in my heart. While I was still quarantined in the isolation room, my father and my brother would communicate with me using Face time, they would tell me stories and their activities every day, I missed them dearly. My classmate also sent me a few letters with their prayers written there. I was very grateful that even tough in my dreadful condition, there were many people who care about me, and didn't leave me. Until this day, I still hope that this dreadful experience didn't happen to me but whatever I do, I can't go back and change the past. But when I see it from the bright side, that dreadful experience made me realized how valuable the life I am living in, and also the life that could end anytime unexpectedly. I realized that I have to make the most of every moment for the rest of my life. I learn to respect and love others sincerely, like everyone that made me overcome my difficult times. This world will be very beautiful with tolerance and affection. Every day, I say ‘I love you' to my parents before going to bed. Maybe saying ‘'I love you' is a simple thing to do, but those 3 words contain a very deep meaning and can bring a big "impact" to others. Love gives the strength to transform pain into power. Love is the key that we need to get through anything, including this corona virus pandemic.
Coronavirus is a virus that first emerged in Wuhan, China. A whole global pandemic is going on, and it has affected everyone's life in various ways. The whole world is locked down, and no normal life activity is the same as before. We all are living a quarantine life i.e. a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived here from elsewhere or been exposed to the infectious or contagious disease are placed. Let's utilize this time and get a hold of ourselves. Change your thought and perspective about quarantine life. Instead of feeling like you are locked up, think about all the amazing things you can do during this pandemic. Of course, amazing things inside your home! “Stay Home, Stay Safe” During this lockdown, observe your surroundings. Feel the beauty of nature, water your indoor plants, look after yourself, take care of yourself, look out of the window, enjoy and observe the view. You don't enjoy observing the view outside your window? No problem! Enter the world of imagination and close your eyes to think about a beautiful place that you have visited or a made-up place in your mind. Or you can make your window view better by adding some decoration pieces or plants. Due to Covid-19 gyms are closed. Some people working out at home is quite hard. Some people may lack equipment, and some may require motivation. For the people who lack equipment such as lifting weights and treadmill, YouTube has an endless list of work out videos without any equipment. All you need to do is find the right video for yourself and set up your workout routine! Another thing for a daily activity that has been disturbed due to this pandemic is going to school, college, university, and offices. Assignments, homework, lectures are all now being held online. Some people think that online classes are not as effective. It has its pros and cons. Pros: no need to travel, the comfort of being at home, not having to dress up for school, and the list go on. Cons are that not every student gets the same attention as they did in a classroom and financial issues due to the pandemic. You might be familiar with the zoom app and google classroom if you have been attending your online classes. Both of these apps are a medium of file transferring and communicating between students and teachers. Let's discuss some life outside our homes. Our neighbors, who are also quarantine due to this whole pandemic situation, are going through the same experience as we are. Maybe they are going through some hardships (be it financially or emotionally). As said by many people, "your duty towards your neighbor is to aid him in times of difficulty, to offer him sincere advice, and to protect him and his property in his absence." COVID-19 symptoms and how to prevent it According to studies, the virus has an incubation period of 2 weeks, and after that, the symptoms appear. Most common symptoms • Fever • Dry cough • Tiredness Less common symptoms • Aches and pains • Sore throat • Diarrhea • Headache • Conjunctivitis • Loss of taste and smell • Discoloration of fingers, toes, etc. Here is a list of severing symptoms: • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath • chest pain or pressure • loss of speech or movement If you are facing these major symptoms and if it is getting worse, seek medical assistance, and do not rely on self-medication. If your symptoms are mild and can be taken care of at home, then stay at home and treat the virus. But do you know what's better than treatment? Prevention. Here are some precautionary measures which are suggested by health organizations: 1. Wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer whenever you come in contact with a person or an object from outside. 2. Maintain social distancing by keeping a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. 3. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you are visiting places such as grocery stores, etc. 4. Stay home if you are unwell. Seek medical assistance if symptoms of coronavirus are visible. 5. Sneeze and cough into your elbow. If you have any sick family members and friends at the hospital, stay strong, and keep on checking on them by texting them or calling them and letting them know that you are always there for them. Encourage them to be strong and that they can overcome the virus. If you have any sick family members or friends with mild virus symptoms, then look after them as a health care provider. Maintain social distance but do not make them feel isolated and alone. Support them emotionally and look after their diet. If, unfortunately, you lose a friend, pray for their soul and their family. Support their family emotionally through these hard times. I will like to conclude the article by suggesting you stay home and stay safe. Find some indoor activities to keep you busy and entertained.
The first-time corona out shined the rest of the world, I was in the middle of figuring out something. I find the question--the "what you want to do with your life"--is very adaptable. They world is changing and yet the question remains. It took a couple of turns and tolls. I am not even sure where I am now. But again, a couple of wrong turns tend to lead you to places you probably should have been from the first place. Too many quiet times can be too much for some people. I had my fair share on some of that. But during these lock-downs I've learned that the silence can liberate you. It forces you to listen because silence has its own voice. Sometimes, it fills you in with things that you don't want to listen because it's scary, demanding, and judgmental. But the rest of the time, the voice can be kind, tender, and loving. During this pandemic, I start to do my workout routine at 5am in the morning. Before this, I barely have one. Every time I tie my shoes for the run, the morning always starts with darkness--a complete darkness. But, its subtlety turns into something that always steady. Always there. The steadiness is loyal even though, it doesn't have reasons to be. We don't exactly have an extravagant view in Jakarta. But, it's still a view and I have reasons to love it. Sometimes I envy people with a better sunrise. But I guess it's all the same at some point. That tingling sensation that you feel in your heart when you see that sun can be exactly the same with those people who see the sunrise on the top of some mountain. It's the same sun and probably the same tingling sensation, but with a different twist to get there. In an everlasting changing world, I need something constant. And the sun is funnily always there. It whispers quietly, everyday, "Don't you worry, kid. I'll be here. I'll be gone at some point, but I'll be back. I always do." And that promise is somehow good enough for me. In general, all of these lock-downs tend to make me aware of my noetic freedom and the only reasonable thing that I can come up to express it is by writing. I never thought that I will miss that glaring sound of the street in Jakarta or how much I love writing. I sit myself down one day and I am typing and typing, writing and writing, and realize it's late and I haven't eaten anything. The ample time of idleness has been reminded me to appreciate some tiny details that I wouldn't be notice if I walk with the speed of gazelle. It's the sun. It's the street. It's the voice. It's you and it's the silence. It's an invisible artifact of your perpetually short-lived contentment. You're going to continue your day and your life with a pretend poise and a silicon happiness just to substitute that short-lived equanimity. But you will not replace it. You won't be able to. You might try with more work, more money, or more relationships. You'll be gone and you'll be lost. You'll be stranded and out of nowhere. And when it reappears, you might be confused. You'll reject it. You sense its familiarity yet it feels a little bit unknown--an alien. But, sooner or later, you'll find your way back. But you're going to be back with the same amount of wholeness and you'll be complete. And "enough enough enough" will be your new mantra. You'll be there, again. Just like the sun. And you'll whisper together, "I am back."
Coronavirus - this tiny cell, invisible even to our eyes, has changed the whole world. In the last days of 2019, an unknown disease that spread in the chinese city of Wuhan shook the world. Scientists named the illness, which soon covered the earth, Covid - 19. A new sort belonging to the family of coronaviruses are still harming humans. To date, many people have died from the new coronavirus. It's worth noting that the Virus is spreading rapidly among the poor and migrants, so they have a high mortality rate. The borders are closed to prevent the interstate spread of Covid - 19. Local and international flights, cars and trains are suspended. As a result, the tourism industry has suffered greatly. The activities of schools, universities and private business organisations have been stopped. The economy suffered and many factories go bankrupt. In many countries it is forbidden to go out on the streets without a purpose. Personally, I'm trying not to go outside, nevertheless, once I had to go external. Of course, I went out wearing a mask, sanitary gloves and goggles. Life in a crowded and robustious city seemed to come to a standstill. There were almost no people on the street which were going anywhere in a hurry. That day, as I walked the empty streets, I felt that time I miss which the crowded streets, the noises of cars, the smell of delicious meals, and, of course , my beloved place - the clothing store. In my opinion, the Covid - 19 has its advantages, namely it brings us not only illness but also solidarity and patience. As we are struggling with the virus, I see people getting spiritually closer to each other. It's a great life lesson for me. In addition, science and technology are evolving because of the coronavirus. I think everyone has come up with a cure for at least one virus and is able to use it in their lives. Virus experts are preparing vaccines against Covid - 19. I hope they will help us get rid of the virus. However, we mustn't rely on a vaccine that is unknown when it will be ready. I have to say that no matter how much we thank the doctors, it's not enough. Because they are caring for the sick, even if they are infected with the virus. We always pray for them. I know we conquer these days, and I'm sure we'll have some great days ahead of us. We need to unite and show that we are stronger than the virus. " I don't know medicine, how do I fight the it ? " you may be said. Nonetheless, don't rush, as it is up to you get rid of the virus. This is the simple. You conform to rules of quarantine, don't forget the mask when you go out and the most significant rule STAY HOME. This is the simple things the most profitable method for the virus spreading. We should not be afraid to infect the virus, but we mustn't fear to infect our loved ones. Don't let our friends get in trouble due to us. It'sno exaggeration to say that Covid - 19 is a mirror for us. I think everyone, a representative of every industry, has seen their shortcomings and will try to correct them and be better than before in the future. I want to tell you which is about what I'm doing during the quarantine. I think this is interesting to you. I use my free time to take online Ielts classes. I'm studying at home and making friends with humans from different countries. I will take the Ielts exam soon , you wish me and my friends the best of luck. In addition, I'm reading a lot of fiction books because of quarantine. I comprehend how precious my family is to me on account of the coronavirus. I really enjoy talking to them. I love them. Take care of your loved ones because they like you more than you can imagine. 😘😘😘
How do you survive a holocaust, I remember asking myself. When you see a child, you don't expect them to grow up. You expect them to stay small and ask “why” until you run out of reasons to give them. You expect them to spill milk and cry and you teach them to clean it up. You expect them to be scared of the dark and the boogyman, so you look under the bed and in the closet to show them that there's nothing there. But the child eventually learns how to drink without a sippy cup. And the child stops asking “why” and stops wondering because it knows what curiosity does. And they learn that there are things much scarier than the boogyman and the dark. “Let's go see Papa,” my dad calls from the front door. I grab my sandals and meet him at the bottom of the stairs. We exit the tall iron spiked front gates and begin walking down a dirt road. The air in Nigeria is thick with sand. I cough, struggling to keep up with my dad. He walks two steps ahead, his lungs unfazed. “Edewu,” the villagers greet us as we march. Their igbo dialect rolls off their ounce. The word is one of the very few I've learned during my visit. I think it means ‘blessings.' I return the greeting with a wave and half a smile. My dad leads the way, slipping past the crowds of people and their blessings, sparing no time for friendly small talk. The walk is only but five minutes. A direct path from my dad's house to his dad's house; a lifeline of sorts. My dad is the oldest son of eight children. “Your uncle Charlie lives over there.” He points to the left at a sky blue house hidden behind a collection of palm trees. I nod. I've never seen my uncle Charlie before. His house is a snapshot of sibling rivalry the way his is built one story taller than my dad's three story flat. My dad takes my hand in his and we cross a gravel road. The buzz of mopeds and motorcycles rush past us barely missing our heels. My dad looks to the right at a run down mud house shaded with rusted tin sheets. “Your uncle Sabinus lived here. They murdered him. Poison.” All the houses of my relatives line the dirt path like a museum of his childhood, their houses as empty as skeletons. His tongue doesn't slip when it speaks of poison. He doesn't stutter or cry. He soldiers on ahead to copper gates and thrusts open the doors to his father's compound. A monopoly of mud houses scatter the lot placed so tightly together they nearly stand atop each other. A broken down Mercedes marks the entry way to my dad's childhood home. The first car he ever learned how to drive, a dusty relic of his past. Two graves sit at his feet. Taking a handkerchief from his pocket he wipes down the first. “Mazi Vitalis Nweze Nwocha” the inscription reads. My grandfather. He bows his head in silent prayer. “Your grandfather was a fugitive of the war. They annihilated us. Burned us alive like sacrificial animals.” My dad says “they strapped people to military vehicles while their lower limbs dragged helplessly beneath them. I was only 12 at the time.” I stay silent. He tells me about the Birafian War. How Nigerian soldiers raided houses in the middle of the night with machetes, painting walls scarlet. How as a kid, he built a bunker big enough for nine people in the back of his house to hide his father from being recruited into the Birafian army. My dad is 64 now. He dusts off hid hands and pockets his handkerchief sweeping fours years of bloodshed back under the rug. We turn to leave his compound passing more unmarked graves on the way out. I look at him, realizing for the first time how silent it really is when a heart breaks. As kids we are taught not to cry over spilt milk. The war taught my dad not to cry over blood either.