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.

\”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 wasn\’t ready to let you go . . .

Two days before my mother passed, the temperature in Delhi— my hometown—was 104 degrees. Not a leaf stirred and the aerial roots of banyan trees in our backyard hung down limply, and languidly, immobile. The day my mother passed it was raining. A welcome healing rain that cooled the scorching, heat-baked earth. I saw poor children dancing in the street in joy, their upturned faces creased in smiles as their tongues mopped greedily at the raindrops. It was as if the heavens had opened their arms to welcome my mom into its embrace.

For ten days, my mom struggled for her life in the ICU—a sterile room with white walls, beeping machines, and a smell of Dettol antiseptic hanging in the air like the thick smog that blankets the congested streets of New Delhi in the wintertime.

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.