What is it like to be in quarantine?

A knock comes on the door. One gets used to a health official with a digital thermometer waiting outside. This happened at least thrice a day.

I am among the 34 Bhutanese quarantined in Tsherim Resort, Paro.  Most are students who had to return home after schools and colleges abroad closed due to covid-19 scare. I had to leave my college and return home immediately after the state government of Tamil Nadu asked all educational institutions in the state to close down.

Coming home this time was a different experience. Airports looked more like a hospital.  Onboard Drukair from Kolkata everyone was wearing a facemask. After landing in Paro, we were taken to the resort. I was reading reports about quarantine and self-isolation, about people in Wuhan and in Milan singing from balconies while in quarantine.

When one is shut-in for two weeks, I find myself doing the same. I read. I look out the window. There is not much else to do anyway. This is my 5th  day of my quarantine. All I do or am allowed to do is open the door for meals and routine health services. If any of us developed Covid-19 symptoms, we are to call health official immediately.

Television and the Internet help. I keep myself informed about the situation in the country. But then, I have also come to realise that too much information can be dangerous. Because I flew home from Chennai via Kolkata, I sometimes feel I might have contracted the disease. Worries can make a person weak. One begins to feel unwell.

The more I think about all these things, I do not want to even cough. I am all right but I feel like my breathing fast and short. Battling and winning over panic is important, I know. It ain’t, though. The moment I realise I am thinking too much, I try to read to distract myself. Physical exercises I found the most useful.

I also get frequent calls from home. My mother makes it a point to call me daily. She is in Radhi, Trashigang. Worried, she enquires if I have developed some symptoms. It is comforting to know that she is well informed about the pandemic. I wonder what would happen if those under quarantine were not even able to keep in touch with their family and loved ones. I must thank my government for such arrangements.

It is raining outside. The weather has been like this for some time now.

“The disease is spreading fast. Please keep yourself strong and healthy.” That was my mother on the phone just a while ago.