written in May 2020 by K. Dhungana, Katmandu, Nepal / edited by Rose N. Travers
The COVID-19 lockdown has changed our normal lives in Kathmandu. If the situation were normal right now, I would be attending a class at the American Language Center. But I, instead, have been confined to my apartment for the past 70 days, doing nothing worth mentioning. I had been editing and writing news before May 14 from home. On May 15, I found myself editing a long feature written by my colleague, Laxmi, which ended my 28-month long “NepalKhabar’s” editorship journey.
I went to market this morning for grocery shopping. The grocery stores open in the morning only at 10AM now. I bought a mango, about a kilo of apricots, 3.5kgs of watermelon and a liter of yoghurt. I was searching for some mushrooms but couldn’t find any today. I’m not the only person who’s facing this type of difficulty. It is a similar story for over 4 million lives in Kathmandu.
This lockdown story began in Nepal on March 24. Yet my personal experience during the lockdown, though, is a little bit different. In fact, lockdown started for me on October 10, 2019 when I was seriously injured in a road accident in the middle of a pedestrian crossing.
When I awoke 15 days later from a coma, my wife, doctors and nurses say that I spoke with them. But to be honest, I can’t remember saying a thing. I think my some of my memory files may have been deleted, so to say.
Altogether, I spent 1 month in hospital and 3 months of bed rest at home to recover. It was definitely the most traumatic experience in my life. I was feeling so low at that time that ruminations of death began roaming around in my head.
Despite my previous recall difficulties, January 13th is the day that will remain indelibly imprinted on my mind for a very long time. That was the day doctors successfully completed my second brain surgery within 4 months. Yes,. that fine day was January 13, 2020. I had been gradually resuming my normal daily life activities. I began eating, walking and talking Yet, mysteriously, the outside world seemed to be going in reverse and very rapidly so. I could witness abnormal scenarios playing out in this outer world. The diagnosis was clear. It had contracted an illness: COVID-19.
I remember that when I had gone to hospital for my follow up health check 3 months before, I wore everyday clothes like a pair of pants, a shirt, smart watch, and shoes. Checking myself in the mirror, I looked okay. But my doctor didn’t allow to me go outside. He instead recommended wearing a mask, gloves and goggles to protect myself from COVID-19. I followed his medical advice.
I live in a historical town called Kiritipur in Kathmandu. There is a Buddhist monastery, meditation center and also a temple situated here. A hospital and meditation center is nearby and I can look out at them every day from my rooftop.
I love visiting the nonsectarian meditation center but it is closed now due to the lockdown.
The government solution to the problem seems to be using lockdown as a “Corona Vaccine without a Roadmap”. I believe that when they experience the side effects of this substitute vaccine, defiantly they will change the Nepal lockdown. I have clearly seen that health, education, business, and economy are all sectors facing uncertainty.
A soft voice inside of me finds a way to offer encouragement to my disturbing thoughts. It says to me: ‘Don’t worry. This, too, shall change.’