For Geeti Borgohain from Assam, the COVID-19 pandemic came knocking as an unwelcome visitor. The 30-year-old Guwahati IT professional, living in the pleasant suburb of Pleasanton, California, recently opened up to Inside Northeast about her experience of living in the country that has been hit worst by the pandemic.
At the time of filing of this story, the US has reported 802,159 cases and 43,495 deaths.
Things are getting from bad to worse really fast. The US has the highest number of cases. What was it like for you guys?
Life can turn upside down in a second and we never may know what hit us right. This was exactly what I felt when I first realized the impact this virus is going to make in our life. Even after the news broke out about a virus that had originated in Wuhan, and now had spread rapidly to multiple countries, I was first under the impression this would be another flu like virus and a cure would soon come up. Life had been pretty normal even after this news broke out and I as many other people here in the states, had been carrying forward with our daily routine. But slowly as this started getting serious and we started getting notices of a lock down, we then realized the magnitude of the situation. US had not yet reported a significant number.
Do you think the Trump administration was late in its response in tackling in pandemic?
President trump had announced about measures the government had started taking etc., but everyone knew it was too late. There were so many cases and no testing were yet done. This turned into a nightmare and we were scared. Now looking at the numbers here, we don’t know what to expect. We are scared ever minute hoping somehow this dies down soon. There is panic in the atmosphere for sure, we are worried every minute, but people are really coping up and maintaining social distancing as we speak of it.
The economy is said to be slumping downwards. How does that affect the Indian diaspora? The people that you are in contact with?
The reality of this is far more complicated than we can imagine. Wasn’t our economy underperforming even before the virus struck? In my point of view, coronavirus risks are now colliding with an already slow economic growth. I think coronavirus will expose this fallout more and more. The economic momentum is now lost at the worst possible moment imaginable. I am not blindly stating this but it’s evident there would be a huge increase in infections which would be an immediate public health challenge. There is not a day when I think about how many jobs will be lost because of this, including the risk of my own job.
So you must be working from home. How are the workplaces coping with the challenge?
Yes, I have been working from home for a month now. One thing I must say is that I am very proud of is my workplace immediately followed suit as soon as a lock down was announced. Being in the IT industry, I can say I am very lucky as like many other that we can continue to be working from home the same way as we would have been in office. However, one other issue that comes up with this is people who have kids are having to juggle work life balance. Of course, kids are bored being confined to their homes 24x7. Our workplace has taken this into consideration and have given us enough flexibility to juggle this balance. They have been very accommodating, and I cannot stress more on this. However, I know other industries haven’t been so lucky and their respective job requirements cannot be converged with flexibility.
How is the US Government dealing with the situation? Is their response adequate? Could timely action have prevented this catastrophe?
See fighting an infectious disease of this scale is no easy feat for any government. Now since this virus has infected the whole world of course governments as well as health care systems are really being put to the test. I think timely action by the government in any country not just the US could have helped contain this disease. The first one who should have done this should have been China. Firstly, now right at this time, every government can step up to contain this disease by first not making this virus political. This virus isn’t partial to politics, right? It will infect people despite of that. Turning this into a political issue would backfire immediately. Secondly, I feel sick leaves should be instituted for infected people. People live paycheck to paycheck. What if a person who has been infected with Covid-19 decides he cannot afford to miss work because he cannot afford this quarantine situation? Will this not lead to many other infections. Thirdly. I feel the test for Covid-19 should be made widely available and should not be limited. There are strict criteria from centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) for who can be tested which means many cases will be overlooked and chances of infection will be more.
[caption id="attachment_57610" align="alignnone" width="660"] Deserted Street of Pleasanton, CA[/caption]
So life before and after corona. How does it feel different?
My life turned upside down in the blink of an eye. This was just the beginning of a new career for me. I just completed my Masters in August 2019 from Western Michigan University and landed my job and moved to California. This was the year I planned to travel places with my family. We suffered quite a lot in the past few years with my dad and brother in law passing away both in the same year in 2017. We were just beginning to adjust to a new life coping up with all challenges and starting a new chapter of our life. But alas, this pandemic has created another new chapter in our life, the ending for which not only us but nobody is sure about.
So, what happens next? Are you still holding onto hope?
I had plans coming home after 2 whole years but everything in life is now on hold. I am going on with my work as I would normally would, but at the back of my mind there is always a constant ringing going on asking me when will this end. This virus has changed everything for everyone. But I am never going to lose any hope over this. The world has seen the defeat of the Great Flu pandemic, we will overcome this too. I urge everyone to practice social distancing just like breathing air. But at the same time, people need to practice kindness, have gratitude towards others and themselves, have patience-we need lots of it. Me and my sister and my niece here are staying positive every second. See another reason why I cannot lose hope is -My sister is a doctor. She is in the frontline everyday reporting for work no matter what. I am terrified for her and think every single moment what we are going to do if she gets infected-because if she does, we do too. But we are fighting this every single day hoping for the best and staying as much positive as we can.
How are you guys maintaining your composure in this time of duress?
We are scared, I know we all are but having faith everything will be alright is very essential at this time. See we are going out for walks once in a week. We see no people, no traffic, fresher air and at that moment we just forget everything and try and enjoy these little moments that we are getting. I believe we can fight and overcome this and very soon everything will be alright. If we all do this together, each in whatever ways works best individually we will feel united and surely overcome this.
Support Inside Northeast (InsideNE), an independent media platform that focuses on Citizen-centric stories from Northeast India that are surprising, inspiring, cinematic and emotionally relevant.
Readers like you make Inside Northeast’s work possible.
To support our brand of fearless and investigative journalism, support us HERE.
The Inside Northeast app HERE for News, Views, and Reviews from Northeast India.
Do keep following us for news on-the-go. We deliver the Northeast.
Copyright©2022 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today