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

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.

Creating lemonade out of lemons: Cheers to all those to made the most of 2020!

Anil hears the baby crying upstairs in her nursery. She’s woken up from her mid-day nap. Earlier today than usual, he thinks with a lopsided smile. He hears the sounds as his wife opens the door to the yellow wallpapered room, rocks Arya back and forth, murmuring against her ear. Snatches from a familiar Hindi lullaby crowd his mind.

Anil shakes his head, forces himself to concentrate on the email sent from his boss about the reopening of distribution channels to China. In less than an hour, I’ll have time to go meet baby Arya. Eat my lunch with her perched on my lap. She will coo and gurgle. I’ll talk back to her. Teach her how to say ‘Papa’. Arya will look at me and laugh. Ah, what bliss. A wide, genuine smile like curling oil spreads across his face. Thank you, Bhagwan for this pandemic!

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

Day 83 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.

* * * * *

Meena rolls down the window of her Camry and breathes in the fresh sun-warmed summer air. She closes her eyes briefly and remembers how she’d once breathed in all the strange thrilling scents of this new country: lavender bubblebath, fresh-cut grass, a cloud of masculine cologne in an elevator.

Once I believed America was a great country, with liberty and justice for all. The wretched thought crawls into her brain like a fat worm after rain.

It is Monday morning, and Meena is driving to a medical appointment. She switches on the radio to distract herself from thoughts that stir in her like dead leaves.

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??

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.