Adilin Beatrice C
‘‘You need to breathe,” I told myself a thousand times before taking a deep breath that assured me I was not dead. I knew coronavirus didn’t spread through the air. Still, the thought of getting exposed to the outer world for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak was horrific. My mind imagined every possible way I could get Covid-19.
I didn’t have any option but to get home. Thoughts like ‘What if the driver is infected?’ and ‘What if someone with Covid-19 touches the car and I touch the same spot?’ troubled me. And the worst I could imagine is me passing on the disease to my family members.
My heart refused to believe it when the college administration asked us to leave for our homes as soon as possible due to a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases and announcements that states had shut their borders. The Tamil Nadu government had shut the border three days before. I needed to find a way to go home rather than getting stuck in the college hostel or a quarantine centre.
The college administration accepted our request to drop me and my friends at the Karnataka- Tamil Nadu border, from where our parents would pick us. It was not a bad plan. But what if the border was closed totally? What if they checked everyone passing by and didn’t allow whoever had a cough, cold and fever. I had had a slight cough for a week then. The scary vision of me being taken to a quarantine camp flashed a thousand times. But I told myself I ought to be brave.
As we emptied our cupboards and packed up, we didn’t have the time to express our emotions. I didn’t want to spend the night sleeping, but did fall asleep because I had taken cough syrup twice. I slept until the first bunch of students left the hostel at 2 am. We planned to start at 6 am so that we reach the border by 8 am and reach home before 6 pm.
I slept in the vehicle. It didn’t last long. We were stopped by a police officer who asked some questions. We were fortunate to have a driver who calmly explained to the officer that we were students and our parents were waiting at the border to receive us. The cop allowed us to go. When we neared the border, my heart started beating fast. I hated the thought of medical equipment being brought near me.
But what I saw gave me a mixed feeling of relief and panic. There was no testing, and there were no health personnel to check people crossing the border. I saw around 500 people with bags and without masks walking past the border gate to enter Tamil Nadu.
It was scary to see people, in big groups, being let into Tamil Nadu without checking their temperature. There was no social distancing. To my knowledge, no media house wrote about the scene at the border.
I came home safe, but still felt I was exposed to the disease due to the government’s carelessness. The public has shown no intention of cooperating with the government’s lockdown order. Even today, three weeks since the lockdown was announced on March 24, people roam the streets. Perhaps they just want to see how empty roads look. The number of cases is rising rapidly. I am worried about how things are going to turn out.