COVID-19 Editorial

To Hazel, From Prithi: A Student’s Concern for a Beloved Teacher

By Prithi Srinivasan


Being forced to stay inside—sure, it gets lonely and restrictive at times. When I look out the window or step outside, I see the once-busy streets now nearly empty. My neighbors have even drawn their curtains and closed their blinds. It’s devastating. I can’t see my friends; I can’t go to school. But I’m still young. I have my family; I have plenty of time.

   Being forced to stay inside—it gets especially lonely when you were already alone to begin with. You can’t help but feel isolated when your family lives a quarter of a mile away but they won’t let you see them. You can’t help but want out of your house when you want nothing more than to see your few friends and colleagues, to sit once more in the cramped hall of the crowded church, to pull out your violin and play. But you can’t do that.

   You look out the window and see people in the streets, walking, carrying groceries. You wait by the door for your family, which lives a quarter of a mile away, to bring you some bread and produce. You sit in the same armchair with the same book. You walk over to the piano, you pull out your violin, remembering the days when you would sit in the cramped hall of the crowded church. You play, but it doesn’t feel the same.

   Even your neighbors are staying inside. The ones you loved to hate, who dug up your lawn and made a racket at three in the morning, are completely silent. The familiar sounds of construction from the house next door, the weathered man from across the street smoking in his driveway—all gone.

   When you talk about it, you don’t seem anywhere near concerned. It seems the entire world is worrying, but not you. You say this will only be a new challenge to overcome, but you don’t know what will happen. You have never experienced anything remotely similar in your life. So you hope, and dream, and wait. You hover by the phone and by the door watching the young people on the street and wishing you were one of them.

   The phone rings. It’s me. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling, how you are able to stay sane alone in your house. I call you as I walk to my mailbox, looking up at the blacked-out windows above me, and as I sit in front of the television with my parents. And as I call you, I find myself in awe. I don’t know how you can manage, but I’m glad that you are.