Dubai Diaries: Missing family during Covid?
While travel is possible now it always entails a risk.
One of the many fallouts of the coronavirus pandemic has been that one can’t travel as easily or conveniently as was the case earlier, without the niggling doubts of catching a virus that has proved so deadly for millions worldwide. As an expat whose loved ones now reside in my home country which is just a three-hour flight away, I would regularly visit in pre-pandemic times, short trips which meant a great deal to all of us. Family time would consist of sitting around and chatting in our third-floor living room, a bracing breeze blowing in from the open balcony that faced a beautiful river and a profusion of greenery, the beauty of which could somehow never be fully captured on camera. We would talk about anything and everything in the comfort and reassurance of each other’s company.
I would unpack my suitcase and give them the staple gifts that almost everyone in India loves to receive from the UAE — dry fruit and ‘garam masalas’ used for cooking. And maybe a couple of other small gifts that I had scoured the malls of Dubai to find — shorts for my dad, a T-shirt for my brother — expeditions that were always fun and bolstered by the joy of imminent travel. While at home I would always indulge in possibly every bibliophile’s most engaging pastime (apart from reading) — rearranging my hundreds of books that took up two gigantic wooden bookshelves, and wait for my dad’s favourite joke about how I should give all of them away. If I had the good fortune to be present in India during Christmas season I would put on some carols from classic singers like Jim Reeves or Bing Crosby and unpack the tree and decorations some of which were decades old, and wonderful memories of a childhood spent in Dubai with our parents would inevitably come flooding back.
And even though my mini-vacation would feel like it had ended even before it started, I would fly back to Dubai with a calm and heartening feeling that it would be just a couple of months, perhaps, before I would get to visit again. Today as I communicate with family over Zoom or the telephone, I often experience a deep longing to be physically present at home, and an inevitable weight of sadness settles in because I know the pandemic is nowhere near to ending, and it would be heaven knows how long before things went back to the way they were. While travel is possible now it always entails a risk, and as much as I miss my family I would rather all three of us stayed home and stayed safe. How does one stop being concerned about one’s family’s health and wellbeing? My dad is in his 70s and even though he’s been vaccinated, the worry never leaves you. Let’s hope and pray for a better future where getting together with your loved ones will not be such a complicated process.