Lockdown diaries | Sunday Observer

Lockdown diaries

12 December, 2021

Diary writing is not a cheap practice. It is an art. Great writers such as Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, Terry Tempest Williams, David Sedaris, Anthony Doerr, Joan Didion, Rosamond Lehmann, Anaïs Nin wrote diaries or journals in addition to their fictional endeavours.

But, why did they write diaries or journals while engaging in fiction writing? The first answer is its intimacy. The second answer is that you can document history through diary or journal writing.

Diary writing during the Covid-19 pandemic is another theme. In fact, with the Covid pandemic our lifestyle drastically changed and people got used to self expression through diary writing, journal writing or blog writing.

Some even embarked on publishing their diaries. This became a common phenomenon in Western countries. Their schools, educational institutes and even universities promoted and are promoting diary writing. If you search the internet you could find hundreds of such schools and institutes. In this scenario, it is useful to look into people's habit of diary writing, especially in other countries.

Through the eyes of a health worker

The following excerpt is taken from a diary of a health worker whose name is not mentioned to preserve anonymity. It shows us the panic situation at the beginning of Covid. This female diarist in the United States is a nurse in a hospital and she wrote it for the University of Rochester's 'Archiving Our Covid-19 Stories' project.

Excerpt:

"March 13, 2020:

"I'm becoming very anxious about the Covid-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world…Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that gatherings of 500 or more people are prohibited starting today at 5 p.m…

"There's been another rush on the grocery stores and bulk stores like Costco. People are buying up all the toilet paper for some reason… Talk is all over work, social media, etc. It's impossible to not see stuff about it. Emails are coming from everywhere about it… Folks say it's not that bad, coronavirus isn't new, etc. But then I also see lots of panic…

"It's just all very worrisome and makes me wonder what will happen here in the hospital. And what if I get sick from being here at work?! Lots of craziness and everything up in the air at the moment."

Layla's note:

The next is a lockdown diary entry by an 11-years old school girl in the UK named Layla. It was published on June 15, 2020 at Long Close School official website. She wrote this lockdown diary entry as part of her English lesson. It shares us how badly it affected children's mentality:

"April 29, 2020:

"Dear Em,

“People say that a man begins to die when he ceases to expect anything from tomorrow and honestly, I think I’m dying.

“The virus has taken over. Taken over the world, taken over my country, taken over my town and has taken over my life. It’s only soon before it takes over my own body. I mean it’s already infected 100,184 people today. The number keeps multiplying everyday, who knows before I contribute to that number. What makes me immune to the virus? I’m no different Em.

“This sounds ridiculous but I only thought things like this were meant to only happen in films. That a virus is miraculously developed, and people would mourn, but then all of a sudden a cure would have been created and everyone lived happily ever after. But the difference is that this is reality, there is no cure.

“The one difference between prison and lockdown, is that the people in prison deserve to suffer. We have all been confined to our houses for I don’t know how long. I can’t handle not for one second being trapped in my house anymore. Every single non-essential place is closed like clothing shops, dentists, the mosque, libraries, leisure centres, the gym, hairdressers and even schools. Yes, that means we do online school.

“I never thought there would be a single day in my entire life that I would be communicating with my teachers through a laptop screen. But then again, what is there to be expected anymore?

“Not even the closest of family are allowed in the wards to say their goodbyes. They die alone. All I can do is sit at home, watch the news and hear nothing but the death toll rise day by day. I pray that I won’t be lying on a bed in an intensive care unit battling the virus, fighting for my life and only having memories of all the people I have loved to keep me company.

“I just want it to end.

Layla"

Senthilkumar's 'My Covid Diary'

This excerpt is from Suchita Senthilkumar's 'My Covid Diary' which was published on May 7, 2021 at Voices of Youth blog:

"4th May 2021:

“Dear Diary,

"It’s thirty-seven minutes past one and I’m breathing; others are not.

"I’ve paused Madan Gowri Anna’s video to sit and write this. He says 24 people have died in one night in Karnataka, where I live. The hospital where they died might not be far away from where I’m staying. I’ve always looked at doctors as though they had the power of Panacea. To know even the doctors couldn’t save them is a harsh blow breaking the tiny bubble I was trying to live in. And the people, they’ve all died trying to breathe."

Her diary entry runs through the pages and ends with this:

"A lot has happened today: 24 people died overnight, two of my father's friends have contracted the virus, 10 days more for mum’s second dose hopefully and amidst all this, one of my poems just got published. It’s not all sunshine and peonies outside or at home but I’ll find happiness in the chirping birds, in stories and poems written, in the little ants climbing my walls. I know I will.

"Goodnight, dear Diary."

The main characteristic of this entry is that it presents the harsh reality of the environment through the diarist's introverted eyes. She, not only, preserves the facts, but also accompanies the reader to a highland from which he could oversee the consequences of the pandemic thoroughly. It also shows us how to write a diary entry without harming its art of writing.

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