My dad is a banker and my mom doesn’t work, but she works very hard to take care of my siblings and me. Growing up, my dad always made sure to spend time with me, even when he was jetting off to a different destination each month. He has always tried to be there for us. Whenever he came back to our home in London, we always picked up where we left off, sharing funny stories about his travels. So when coronavirus hit the U.K., I thought that now would be a time he would want us to be all together. For the first time in forever, I wondered if I would be spending more than three months with my entire family. Instead, my dad ferried us all off to Hong Kong, while he decided to remain alone in London. Why? I kept asking myself why my dad would want to be alone, separated from us, during a time when family seems most important. Why wouldn’t he want to be surrounded by his loved ones during a time of uncertainty and suffering?
Now that he is in London and I’m in Hong Kong, I have started paying more attention to my surroundings. Hong Kong is one of the safest places to be. I am able to go out almost everyday, I can still take the subway, buy bubble tea, and hangout with my friends. On the other hand, I look at my dad’s situation in London. The numbers in the U.K. have risen and risen in the time that he has decided to stay there and work. Now, I am beginning to understand that he wanted us to be apart for our own safety. My father had no choice. He had to work from where his office is based and he didn't want the rest of us to be stuck with him when we would be safer in Hong Kong.
Despite the distance that keeps us apart, we still find ways to stay close and connected. Every Friday night, my extended family and I have one big get together on zoom. For an hour, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents set aside time to share our experiences and laugh and cry over how the coronavirus has impacted us. Sometimes we might just all watch the same movie on our devices or read the same book— just any shared activity can make the thousands of miles between us a bit more bearable. We never used to do this, I often only saw my extended family once or twice a year. It’s a bit shocking to witness how it took a pandemic for us to see the importance of maintaining our relationship with one another. I’ve seen how suffering and worrying can bring people together and I am so grateful that I have a family to share this experience with, knowing full well that there are a lot of people out there braving the storm alone. It saddens me to think that many people have nobody to turn to during times like these. Unlike those people, fortunately, my dad has us to come home to when all this is over. He will always have his family, no matter where he is in the world.
Written by: Debi Chakrabortti