Anoop Judge | Author · Writing Instructor · Former T.V. Host​

I Want the Pandemic to End /I Don\’t Want the Pandemic to End: Two Perspectives

When Anika Chandok’s Bakersfield middle school shut down last spring and her classes went online, it felt like the beginning of an adventure. “I was in my pajamas, sitting in my comfy chair, “ the thirteen-year-old recalls. “I was texting my friends during class.”

“Then I received my academic progress report. I was an A and B student before the pandemic and now I was failing three classes.” Anika gathers her wits and shakes her head, trying to clear her thoughts.

“The academic slide left my mother in tears. My mom insisted I create to-do lists and moved my workspace into the guest bedroom to pull up my grades.” Pausing to take a sip from her water bottle Anika looks at her therapist Laura Mitchell Moore who gives her an encouraging nod.

The Trauma of Returning to the Work Place

Anil chews on the stub of the pen with which he was writing as he reviews the email from his boss: Since all employees at the healthcare start-up, he worked for had been vaccinated, the corporate bigwigs had decided that a return to the office could safely be ordered.

Re-entry date: May 1

Feeling a rising tide of panic rush upward through his spinal cord and into his brain, Anil can’t stop the thoughts going around and around in his brain like the bullocks they used in his father’s village to turn the water wheel. “I won’t be able to spend time with baby Arya anymore. How will my wife manage without my help?”

\”I feel responsible for my son\’s death\”: the surge in Student Suicides

Baljeet Kaur saw the way they looked at her: at the funeral service, at the temple—which smelled of ghee and of underarm sweat—where a small congregation gathered after the cremation. When they came to the house carrying covered casserole dishes and potted plants. The hushed whispers, the looks of reproach, the pity on their faces. They looked at her as if they were surprised that she was still here on earth, still able to stand, and walk and breathe. Often they did not even meet her eyes or they looked away when they did as if her pain might be contagious.

“Yes, I am a mother to be pitied.” She wanted to yell and scream until her throat bled.

I\’m a Fly on the Wall during Lockdown (Part III) . . .

Day 74 of Covid-19 quarantine. The sun gleams on my glassy back, the small dark garnet of my eye in its silver socket twitches as I flit from house to house. Slowly swinging myself on a whisker, I balance my little body on the ledge of a window as I peer inside.

* * * * *

A lock of hair catches on her dry lips and she shoves it out of the way before rolling over and burrowing back into her duvet. Even before Pooja’s eyes open she can sense that Mohit is awake. The sound of his impatient voice floats from the kitchen where’s he’s making a business call and echoes off the walls of the broom closet. She’s been falling asleep in the overcrowded cupboard beneath the stairs almost every night, waking up cramped and tired in the tiny space.

I\’m a Fly on the Wall during Lockdown (Part II) . . .

Day 63 of Covid-19 quarantine. The sun gleams on my glassy back, the small dark garnet of my eye in its silver socket twitches as I flit from house to house. Slowly swinging myself on a whisker, I balance my little body on the ledge of a window as I peer inside.

* * * * * *

There is a glass cup on the side table in the office, a half-finished bottle of red wine beside the table. A pack of cigarettes calls to Vinay from the shelf; he hesitates but doesn’t take them. He glances at his wristwatch for the fifth time in fifteen minutes. It is 10 p.m., PST. It is the right time to call her. It will be 9:30 a.m. Indian Standard Time.

Carefully, resolutely, he punches in the number and waits for her to pick up the phone. Once the pleasantries are dispensed with, his mother wants to know when she’s going to see him.

I\’m a Fly on the Wall during Lockdown . . .

Day 48 of Covid-19 quarantine. The sun gleams on my glassy back, the small dark garnet of my eye in its silver socket twitches as I flit from house to house. Slowly swinging myself on a whisker, I balance my little body on the ledge of a window as I peer inside.

* * * * * *

“Arjun, go get Charlie. Let’s go for a walk,” Usha calls out to her son. It’s her only thirty-minute break between virtual meetings. She ties a blue surgical mask on her face, then helps Arjun with his. Charlie scampers ahead, smelling and scratching at the fresh spring grass. Arjun tugs Charlie’s leash as Charlie spies a fat squirrel and tries hard to turn Arjun around in the opposite direction.

Did I Cause The Pandemic?

For all of January, I kept telling everyone who would listen—my silent husband or my girlfriends who would give me half a second to speak and only because they’d paused to take a long slurp of the last bottle of Bordeaux wine from Marchesi di Barolo vineyards culled from the hostess’ most recent trip to Italy. Half a second, mind you, because I’d usually be surrounded by a dozen garrulous Indian girlfriends who’d think nothing of jumping in and interrupting me in mid-flow.

“Tsk, tsk,” I’d fume silently. None of my American girlfriends behave like this. They listen politely, courteously waiting their turn to talk.

The Positive Place: Three weeks into Quarantine

Thirty-two days into the pandemic, and I’m homesick for my frothy macchiato coffee latte. For my favorite barista—a pierced, tattooed young man with a military haircut, and the build of a Navy seal. For movies at my preferred theater in Livermore and how I would slump down in my seat with my buttered popcorn and a glass of Riva Ranch. I flick channels on the T.V. remote to get a glimpse of other people’s worlds to soothe my own. The over walked dog twitches next to me on the well-worn burnt orange sofa.

Last week, the adrenalin kept me going but now the harsh reality sets in. The last package of ground chicken is defrosting on the kitchen counter downstairs. We will need haircuts. Netflix is not coming on. Oh God, I think. I’m trapped in this house without a means to watch the last episode of Tiger King. My frantic gaze falls on the 2020 wall calendar with the events of April still not crossed out—the violin recital for my nephew, the parent-teacher meeting at my daughter’s school, my cousin’s wedding in Cabo, Mexico.

News from the trenches: A week of coronavirus isolation

March 16

After a blast of cheery emails and messages on WhatsApp, Twitter, FB, Instagram, and Tumblr on how many people have recovered from coronavirus, what meditation apps to download, where to buy hand sanitizer, and where not to go for empty shelves of toilet paper rolls, a short simple notification shows up on Nextdoor:

“I can’t stop eating!”

Six days later, and the post is still trending. I want to hold up an emphatically guilty hand. A long-time believer in the intermittent fasting way of life, I usually have no problem fasting for sixteen hours straight. Now, I’m eating for sixteen hours straight!

 Why can I not stop binging? Could I have been exposed to a mutated version??

Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Imagine you’re seated in a big, deep, velvet-upholstered antique purple armchair. You look out the window across the street where the wind is blowing in gusts, whipping dead leaves around the parked cars, shaking store signs and rocking the streetlights high on their poles. You sit back in the chair and lift your feet to make yourself comfortable. Your eyelids grow heavy and your body slumps into the chair, eyes wide open, gazing into nowhere as you hear the gong: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Your subconscious takes over and suddenly you’re in a tropical paradise, basking in the sunshine, lying on your stomach in a teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini on a white sandy beach. You’re relaxed, filled with happiness and peace. A soft lilting voice penetrates the trance-like state you’re in, “Anoop, your mind is at peace like a lake with no ripples. Feel the warmth of your bed cocoon you into a restful state of mind.”

Anoop Judge is a blogger and an author, who’s lived in the San Francisco-Bay Area for the past 27 years. As an Indian-American writer, her goal is to discuss the diaspora of Indian people in the context of twenty-first century America.