Pandemic Diaries 5: Week 2 – So Close, Yet So Far Away
March 28, Saturday – Day 8: I can’t believe it’s been a week since the disaster. With a week already behind us, it all feels better now. My friends studying in Turkey, also made it back to Cyprus, safely. I am feeling more relaxed, now that I worry less about my loved ones. Even though I don’t see them, knowing they are close by gives me some kind of reassurance. Having people outside chatting and singing on their balconies accompany me. I don’t feel lonely in my feelings.
The local DJ who presented the radio program came to the quarantine centre to play us some live music. The set up is away from my side of the place, and there is wind. So, I don’t hear much of it, but he and our friends on that side are sending photos and videos. The way he is trying to cheer us up and tried holding on even when it starts to rain is incredibly wholesome. It increases our morale to know there are people who think about us, as much as the people who curse us.
March 29, Sunday – Day 9: I’m so glad that the staff that bring us the food do not make us jump out of bed with the harsh knockings, anymore. Honestly, I had times I woke up thinking there was a knock on the door that there wasn’t. I think this place will be in my nightmares for some time after I leave.
But it is not all bad. We got some snack gifts today, and we are forming some activity groups to spend our time left more pleasantly. I am a part of a music group. We’re writing a song. It is full of innuendos about our community. Oops.
March 30, Monday – Day 10: If reincarnation exists, I’m almost sure that I was a terrible person. We learn that coronavirus might live for up to three weeks and not show up on the tests, too. However, the government can’t afford to keep us here for another week, so they impose another week of quarantine at home in our rooms. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. On the one hand, the internet sucks here, and I have a bunch of interviews I have put off multiple times and work to do. Also, I cannot imagine how painful it would be to see my family from afar after not seeing them for three months and not hug them. But on the other hand, if we were to stay here more, our families would be safer. It is more likely them to catch it in the same house, even when I don’t touch them or be in the same room as them at the same time. If they catch it then, what was the point of all the things we’ve been and still are going through? No use thinking about though, I guess. Not like we have a choice.
The videos of our mums are live, and it’s just adorable. Their support and motherly advice feel so close to home. Also, the DJ returns with a better set up, under better weather today. He moves between several parts of the place so that everyone can get a better experience. Songs across genres from pop to reggae to traditional songs all entertain us. Many of us Turkish Cypriot students had been a part of a folk dance group either in the past or currently are. Some start dancing a choreography on their balconies. It is so fun just to dance and not worry about things for a while.
March 31, Tuesday – Day 11: I swear the quarantine got everyone on social media. So many Instagram challenges, this-or-thats, bingos, showing people our quarantine activities, etc. I’m no exception. We do like to talk about ourselves as people, don’t we?
There are cats going from balcony to balcony around here. They are another entertainment and even some physical contact for some, though they are never on my side. There is a pregnant one, we call her Firuze. We thought she was giving birth tonight. One of the guys prepared a comfortable corner for her but after some time of moaning. She just walked away. We thought we were becoming parents. Oh well.
April 1, Wednesday – Day 12: I woke up thinking honestly if anyone tries to make a joke to me today I’m going to throw my hands. Yet again, people do make jokes. Our friends that are the head of the organisation tells us we’ll be staying here until Tuesday. Not that anyone believes it. But they get their own jokes. A girl can do an excellent child impression. She calls three people telling them her mum told her to call them and that her mum’s been throwing about, not leaving the bathroom for a while now. I didn’t realise until then that there was actually a woman with two kids staying at this quarantine centre with us. One of them doesn’t believe at first but does, eventually. One doesn’t at all, and one understands it’s a joke at the end, even guesses who is it on the phone. They voice-recorded the conversations. I need to say that they were hilarious.
A group of people came to get us to exercise. I’m not a big fan of it anyway but also, guess who is still writing a lifestyle article for the blog on the day of its release. A hint: me. I’ve been a mess lately. I stare at the screen of the laptop, almost all day and not get anything done. The quarantine wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be this safe, comfortable place that I got things done. Nope, not a chance. But hey ho, I did manage to publish the April posts.
April 2, Thursday – Day 13: I joined a class today that is in the form of a chat. We are speaking about each others’ pieces, one being that story about Cyprus I wrote. When I woke up in the morning and joined the class, I didn’t expect to be this sensitive to criticism. I have never been. You know what? It isn’t even their criticism, it is my own. I feel so insecure about everything, I feel like I can’t manage anything at the moment and everything we talk about on my piece feels like something added to the list of things I can’t do. The story that I used to be so proud of now feels like something with potential that I don’t have the power to complete to its full potential. I feel like I don’t have the power to complete myself to my full potential.
By the end of the class, I am so overwhelmed with anxiety. What if I can’t complete anything properly? What if all my work goes to waste? This wasn’t how this year was supposed to go. I had a routine, I had anxiety under control, I was doing better at everything, I was supposed to graduate with a first, and now that thought feels so far away. The university announces that they won’t take the worst 30 credits into account when calculating our average at the end of the year which is great but even that doesn’t reassure me.
I want to talk. I need to talk, but I feel so lonely. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone. Everyone is going through some fragile time with their mental health that they either want to just hear positive things or listen but answer passive-aggressively or really want to help but instead of just listening to me, they are making me feel like there are easy solutions or undermine what I’m feeling. I don’t judge anyone. I know none of them means harm but I’m not at a right place myself that I don’t want to cause damage to my friendship with any of these people.
After hours, I finally find someone who just listens to me, comforts me with their voice, encourages me on my decisions. I calm down a little and decide to take the few days I have left, off.
I also decide to participate in the exercise today but nope, wrong decision. Supposedly, it is for all levels but I feel like I can’t breathe and feel like I’m going to throw up that I end up spending half of the exercise time just trying to catch my breath.
April 3, Friday – Day 14: I woke up with a knock on the door. Not one of those harsh knocks but it was accompanied by women saying ‘we came for the test’. We thought we were getting PCR tests at first so we would have samples taken from our nose with a tall cotton bud. One even joked about it going up to the brain that scared some. But we only got our blood taken for the quick test. Honestly, I’ve been afraid of needles but I swear this didn’t hurt a bit. I barely felt it. It’s either the nurse has a really soft hand or I am still half asleep. Or both. But probably the second.
Even though we got quick tests, we are not hearing back about the tests until tomorrow which means we are not going home tomorrow but on Sunday. What is another day, anyway.
Today is a good day. Since we got our tests done, they are finally giving us our Magnums that we’ve been waiting for ages. They didn’t want to give it to us earlier and get us ill. Not that it would affect the test but you know. It came along other treats, a pack of sunflower seeds, a small packet of crisps and some chocolate. Honestly, they never tasted better and I’ve never been happier to see snacks in my life. They feel like an award after a victory. We’ve been through it all.
As I’m not stressing myself with work today, I’m enjoying my treats. We arranged a virtual Zumba session with a friend of mine. Before all this mess, I was doing it regularly but this is my friends’ first time. By the end of it, she is proud she made it but I swear she hates me. Well, not my fault. The video had levels and instead of going easy, she goes full-on. That isn’t on me, is it?
We try to collectively sing the Turkish version of Ciao Bella end film it which ends up having multiple awful tries and a ‘fuck it, good enough’ final shot. It is fun but not just the singing part, the way we try is so hilarious.
We’re going on a high note.
© photo from Unsplash
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