Standing at a critical crossroads, man’s deepest fears and anxieties have been unravelled in his battle against Covid-19. Where one has the option of giving into his frustrations and apprehensions, there exists an equal plausibility of developing a positive posturing in the midst of crisis. Join me as I share my personal experience signifying this transmutation while in quarantine.
It was a lonely, lonely night. Standing before the metal grilled window panes looking outside at the beautiful sky that basked in all its starry glory, while the city bustled in its eccentric, life-loving fervour, I could not have wished for anything else in that instance besides the yearning to be a part of that external world, for a little moment, that perhaps lasted a little longer. As I stared out of the window of my 32nd floor quarantine room, my mind raced with perturbing thoughts, unable to comprehend my transition from an independent individual to a confinee in the government quarantine centre, at Hong Kong’s Fo Tan district. This was just day 3 of my 14 day compulsory quarantine at the government quarantine centre, and I had no idea how I was going to pick up the strength to survive a further 11 days there. Not that I was unaware of this mandatory governmental SOP to be followed by every entrant in Hong Kong travelling from abroad in the context of COVID-19 scenario , but the seclusion and restricted interaction was something I could never have been prepared for beforehand.
Emotional and Cognitive Strategizing
Given the adventure loving person that I am, perusing over my prospective stay at the Quarantine centre was something that I was taking in a positive stride. I believed that it would be a new experience, and hence did not develop any qualms. Instead I was looking forward to what it will be offering. It was only after having spent 3 straight days in the quarantine centre, did my minds reflexive posturing started verging on frustration and acute anxiety . Locked up in my quarantine room for 72 hours straight, with two pedestal fans supplying minimal cooling in Hong Kong’s humid and searing summer weather and being unable to inhale the fresh air outside, life all of a sudden seemed to come to a moment of stasis. This situation coupled with consistent anxiety of somehow testing Covid-19 positive due to a possible contact with some asymptomatic patient on my flight to Hong Kong, left me perturbed. The world beyond my rooms large grilled window ascended to the point of luxury for me. Despite the fact that my husband was quarantining with me, the restlessness that hits hard when you cannot move freely beyond a particular space, specially a small, super hot room, it naturally becomes an exhausting episode for your mind to process.
Random speculations over notions as to when will be the next time you will really be able to reunite with your family beyond the precincts of the quarantine centre amplifies the emotional upheaval. Physical exhaustion is an altogether different experience. But when its your mind that is fatigued, the plausibility of developing viable emotive responses to exigent scenarios becomes an ordeal in itself. The sort that weighs heavily against your heart, making it impossible for you to drift off to a peaceful slumber.
It was only after a thorough acceptance of my situation at hand coupled with compassionate reassurances from my husband that I was able to devise a quarantine coping strategy for ourself. The foundation of which essentially centred on the belief that God will make our path easier for us to tread on. This difficult period will for sure end one fine day and we would be able to revert back to life as it was before we were confined here in. Next, we devised a proper schedule for our days in quarantine, interjecting it with fun indoor workouts , screen time recreation as well as accomplishing work related tasks.
The fact that we dispersed these activities throughout our active hours, gave us something to look forward to while in quarantine without being depressed or anxious. With a possible end in mind, we kept on going, inching closer and closer to our expected release date.
Learning Compassion and Humility
Life in quarantine, since involves a solitary stay in a confined space for a stretch of time encourages you to have a genuine heart to heart conversation with your own self. Given our regular grinding schedules, finding time to focus on the most nascent, intricate yet important realities of life is a task we put on the back burner for an endless span. My stay in quarantine provided me with the positive opportunity to unlearn and relearn many of my personal stances, orientations and positioning. It made me see how man tends to live in a stupor of eliteness, believing that nothing can bring about a change to his position of greatness. How man terribly fails at realising that he is just a minor spec in the grand narrative of the universe. When in reality a mere microorganism has the potential to dismantle the life of man, rendering him inactive for an undefined period.
This realisation breeds in you a calming sense of humility and thankfulness. It makes you a wholly changed person who is ultra compassionate and cherishes the littlest things this life has to offer. Not because he was not austere enough prior to this humbling experience but because in the midst of life’s chaos and routine our priorities somehow get dismantled into focusing on ourselves only. This experience made me live through the suffering of those who belong to the lower rungs of the society, dwelling in their small spaces without a proper access to the luxuries our lifestyles can feasibly afford. Despite this, the gratitude that sparks off from their face narrates tales of perseverance in the present and faith in a better tomorrow. Also the super accommodating and concerned quarantine staff at Fo Tan quarantine centre made me practically experience the selfless dignity with which our healthcare workers are assisting in combatting the Covid-19 battle effectively.
Realising the Exigency of Human Connectivity
Since quarantine meant being in seclusion, it came across as a potent reminder of the human need for connectivity in times of crisis. It made me understand the pertinence of a strong support system needed to help one in coming out of a depressed state of mind. We may be blessed with all the material benefits that this life has to offer, but let me tell you, if we do not have caring, affectionate and concerned people at our back, we are simply poor souls, treading on life’s hard paths. My stay in quarantine made me see why it is really important to surround yourself with people who are genuine in their compassion towards you. Instead of communicating with those who heighten your plight by expressing further apprehensions with respect to your quarantined scenarios, talk to those who make you feel better since they remind you of the light of God’s benevolence.
Hope- our only panacea
As days went by, our stay in the government quarantine centre came to a good end. It was a microcosm of life itself, replicating the arrival of a crest, shortly after experiencing a hard trough. If you are in quarantine, or if you have been diagnosed with Covid -19 or simply going through a hard patch in your life, know that it will end soon. The grind will be hard, it may be depressive, but stay resolute. Have faith that things will work out in your favour. When you cling onto hope, trust me it will change your perception and perspective. After all, hope, that is all there is, that is all what we really have.