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Unbearable Lightness of Being

As a high school student in Dubai, all I can do is watch everything crumble in front of me. I’m not saving lives at the hospital like my dad. I’m not doing anything of importance. It can feel dull at times.

In Dubai, the situation is getting worse by the day. People are losing their jobs faster than anyone can count. and what makes matters worse is that only 30% of people in the United Arab Emirates are locals and the other 70% come from other countries. Imagine, so many non-locals are getting infected— it’s happening, even with 24 hour lockdowns in place.

Taking online classes and staying safely at home presents an irrational amount of guilt for me. The death toll in Dubai is increasing quickly, but my life at home has been pretty easy. I have little to no risk of contracting the virus and I’m worrying about turning in assignments when there’s a literal pandemic going on in the world. It’s a strange realization sometimes that living at home is living in a bubble. I have an English presentation to create for tomorrow’s class. A math test to study for. A biology study guide to fill out. My mind is swamped with grades and numbers and pleasing my teachers. I don’t understand why students are being flooded with so much work nowadays. I barely have time to watch the news.

I get my news in daily tidbits from my dad, after he comes home from saving lives and taking his shower to keep clean. At dinner, he talks a little about the pandemic but we don’t delve too deeply into the topic. He’s tired. Now that I think about it, I really want to be like my dad. He can confidently say he’s made a positive mark on the pandemic. Or like my friends who are making masks to give away to people in need. I’ve been telling myself to help out for so long, but I’ve never cut out the time in my schedule.

But my schedule is something I do have control over. So, I take it back that all I can do is study. All I have been doing is studying, but it hasn’t been fulfilling in the least. I know I can do more.


Written by: Lily Zeng

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