THE LOCKDOWN

THE LOCKDOWN A sense of accomplishment was all I could feel as I stood across the window looking out over the city, but this euphoric sensation wasn't one to last. The ringing of my alarm set on the table across the room from me made sure of that. I had placed the alarm as far from me as possible so I would not have put if off since it was within an arm's length. It was already mid semester and time to get serious with my studies, especially with my lecturers reminding us that tests were around the corner. But today, none of that mattered, not the tests or the exams that usually came immediately afterwards, all that mattered was the news of a pandemic, the Covid-19 virus. The day before, when we all received news about the Federal government's decision to shut down all schools in the country was probably the first time, I took the covid-19 virus seriously. Calling friends in affected but distant countries always seemed to make the virus unreal. Receiving numerous calls from my parents made it all the more real. And that was how I sought my way home the next day. Unlike most of my friends, going home was not a problem as my family lived in the same state. Some students, however, lived in other states and had to travel long distances to get home. News of shutting down inter state borders caused in a tremendous increase in traveling costs. Some students, who couldn't travel under such short notice had to find alternative sources of accommodation. The first month at home was spent studying, in the hopes that school would soon resume. In time, I realized it wasn't going to resume anytime soon, at least not with the number of cases of the virus increasing in arithmetic progression across the entire country. More news about the virus flooded the screens of our television, fueling the fear that now engulfed us all. With the pending news of total lockdown in the state, my mother made lists of all the food stuffs we needed and sought about purchasing them all despite the inflated prices. As news of safety measures to stay safe came, so did false information often leading to confusion as to which was true. News of the virus seemed like a political propaganda to some, to others it seemed not as serious as it was made to be, but to a select few it was quite a serious matter. My family was one of those that considered it a serious matter, we never went out unless we really needed to and coming home was immediately followed by hand washing, the use of hand sanitizer and a bath. By the second month, the state has been totally locked down, dashing my hopes that school would resume by the end of the first month. By now reading books relating to academics was a distant dream, but I spent a lot of time reading novels and poems to pass time. Social media challenges were trending and watching them was fun, although I never tried any. With less novels to read, I had to find other ways to kill time, so I picked up an old hobby. Drawing family members and friends was more fun than I anticipated. Often I didn't quite get them right, but I kept practicing. Online classes were also trending, so I took up a Spanish class online. Spending more hours of my day online than I was used to took up a lot more of my data subscriptions than I anticipated. I had to cut down on my online activities. So, I got more free time and had to find new ways to spend them. After a week's worth of begging, my brother and I convinced our father to teach us to drive. We practiced along the now empty streets and it seemed like more learners were taking this opportunity too. With time, we got better but not after giving the old car a few scratches here and there. On one occasion, my brother almost hit a car in front of it while I almost drove in to a ditch once but with time we got better. After a while, I had built a routine that kept me busy. First I would go out early in the morning to practice driving with my brother, then when I got home I would practice my Spanish, read novels and draw. Between all these, watching movies was always squeezed in between. I had almost completely adapted to a life at home. Being a student was now a distant memory I often reminisced about. On one of those moments of nostalgia, my phone called me back from the land of wandering thoughts. At first, it was nice hearing an old friend's voice, but the fear I sensed soon made me worry. Apparently he was experiencing some symptoms of the corona virus after traveling to one of the states where the pandemic was more prevalent. He talked about his plans to get tested while I encouraged him not to worry and wait patiently to get his test result before jumping to conclusions. Calming him down took awhile but it eventually worked. After the call ended, his words kept coming back to me, “I don't want to die.” I realized so many people had died from the virus and I couldn't help but be thankful for my life and that of my family.

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Bernard Jan

Award-winning, multi-genre author, novelist,...

Zagreb, Croatia