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Sensible Paranoia

I’ve been working from home for 2 weeks. My kids’ return date has been delayed twice in the past half-month, and it probably will continue to be. My husband is the only person in the household who has been going out once a week to get our groceries and necessities. We’re back in quarantine, 100 days after our last wave of COVID-19 in Vietnam.

I remember when the first case of COVID-19 was announced. I was at work, and I was teaching a class of 20 kids who needed some extra help during the summer. I was at the front of the class, when a phone in the back of a class chimed. Then another two started ringing. And then mine went off: my husband was calling. I remember feeling 20 pairs of eyes on me as I silenced the class, excused myself, and took the call. I remember hearing my husband’s low, familiar voice laced with panic and urgency as he filled me in on the events that had taken the city by storm while I was in class. We had the first untraceable COVID-19 case.

It’s a weird experience to think about, really. The first time around, it had taken 40 confirmed cases for people to finally start wearing masks when going outside. It had taken over 100 for families to start pulling kids from school and retreating to far off suburban areas in an attempt to flee the growing virus. And it wasn’t until 30 days after the last confirmed case was reported that the streets of Hanoi were swarmed once again.

And now, three months later, it’s the exact same scenario— it took one single case for the masking business to start blooming. It had taken 2 cases for companies to restructure their employees into working from home. And it had taken 3 for the streets to empty out once again. There hasn’t been another case reported in 5 days, and yet, most of us are probably still huddled inside our homes, eating take-away and leftovers. It’s terrifying to see how quickly this pandemic repeats itself so smoothly and absolutely. It’s even worse to think about what COVID-19 has done to leave such a mark on our community.


Written by: Cam Nguyen

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