An Unprecedented Journey

By Anish Gajula


February 28th, 2020, is a day I can never forget. I was supposed to go school as any other day, but I would never make it that day. Although for many people their school year ended on March 14th, 2020, my school year came to an end a bit earlier.


It all began at 2:37 AM, when my father woke me up at such an early hour. I reluctantly got up, thinking it was 7:00 AM to get ready for school. It turns out, it wasn't. My father told me he had booked tickets to India and we had to get to the airport by 6 AM for our flight. I was very confused about why we were going to India, when I still had school. My dad told me that my grandpa was in the ICU fighting for his life, and the situation wasn’t looking too great. It took me quite some time to process the amount of shock and distress I felt. When I arrived at the San Francisco Airport, I was surprised to see that it looked nearly desolate. A majority of the airliner stalls were closed down and there were barely any people. At that time when things were normal before COVID-19, it was quite unusual to see this. After 16 long hours, we finally arrived in India and immediately drove to the hospital. I stayed at the hospital for a week with my whole family, hoping everything will be alright. On the very last day, we were fortunate and received the good news that my grandpa was out of danger and he was well on his way to being discharged. We finally brought my grandpa home after being at the hospital for so long.


I checked my phone for the first time since I came to India and was quite surprised to see that the grades for all my classes were pretty much all Fs and I had so many zeroes. I spent the next two weeks trying to keep up with school work and help my family with daily chores. I would go outside very often, to buy groceries or just to randomly roam around. Everything was still normal; but there was lots of news going on about COVID-19, which told people to be careful and “just wash their hands.”  Nobody had any idea what the world would be like very soon. While COVID-19 was widely spreading in the United States, the situation in India was the total opposite. However, the day I was supposed to come back was the very day school had shut down. I was shocked to hear about this and became a bit reluctant to go back home. Within an hour later, we got a call that all flights going to the United States were cancelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This marked the beginning of my 7-month “vacation” in India.


To be continued...