The way my family handled coronavirus was by volleying between hope and despair. We like to be optimistic, but COVID-19 really challenged us in that sense. One day, we all saw the bright side by getting involved in local organiations, but by the next, the ever rising toll of deaths and daily cases got our spirits down. While this pandemic created an opportunity for us to be hands on and involved with helping people, at the same time, our optimism was often crushed by the thousands of lives being lost. The most harrowing thing that brought down our efforts to remain hopeful was witnessing people disregarding our help— and in the process, endangering not only themselves, but the people around them.
For example, one way we chose to stay positive was to get locally involved. We taught people how to make homemade masks and we tried to spread the word on how to effectively social distance, but we saw so many of them blatantly disregard these efforts. After holding home-made mask making lessons, we would see people who had known about our efforts continue to go out without wearing a mask or a scarf around their faces. And after spreading the importance of social distancing we would see the same people having parties and barbecues at their houses. I was so frustrated— what would it take for people to see the importance of compromise? I couldn’t understand how they didn’t realise that their reckless actions were putting their own health at risk. It made me so mad. These were the things that turned my optimism into despair. I began to feel like no matter what my family was doing, the message wasn’t being spread. We could advertise and educate all we wanted to, but at the end of the day, we couldn’t explicitly control other people’s actions and choices.
The volley that would often propel us back into hope and optimism was seeing the impact and good that our efforts were accomplishing. It’s one of the main factors that got us through the toughest times and it continues to help us power through the rest of this pandemic. Although there were many people who didn’t seem to care about following the rules, there was a flood of people who often joined us and appeared to genuinely listen and care. Every week we would get cards and drawings from little kids whose parents had asked us how to entertain toddlers during quarantine. We often received gifts and grateful emails not only thanking us, but asking us how they themselves could spread the word.
Thankfully, that optimism and sense of togetherness didn’t fade, even as the lockdowns and social distancing regulations were slowly lifted. As quarantine started easing up, most people were still mindful of social distancing. Apart from a small minority of people, most didn’t rush out in big groups; they gradually eased into the process. I was so happy to see that our efforts, for the most part, hadn’t been completely disregarded once the government started to become more lax.
I’ve realised that there will always be a selfish select few who choose convenience over safety, but I don’t want that to bring me down. I began to focus on those who are helping alleviate the situation— and that’s how I eventually won my internal battle of hope and despair.
Written by: Debi Chakrabortti