Home Coming and Hugs

My sister joined her first job at Google in Oct 2019. Following the Chinese New Year Holidays, she came home in Jan and soon after that, the world was rapidly reporting cases of Coronavirus. Flights were being cancelled, China was reeling under the virus attack and we decided that her going back wasn’t an option. After lots of confusions and a few meetings, she got permission to work from Bangalore Google office. I was working in Bangalore too and so she came to stay with me.

Meanwhile, I had been attending interviews and finally landed a new job. My life was crazy for a couple of months. The work pressure, the pressure of not really enjoying the work anymore, the pressure of attending interviews every other day while ensuring that I was performing my duties well at work, had all gotten me into a state of frenzy. On 11th Mar, I shifted my house from one end of Bangalore to the other, and moved closer to my new workplace. The whole shifting and arranging got me so exhausted and with my old job almost wrapped up, I decided to go to my hometown, Kochi, to be with my family. By then India had quite a few cases of Coronavirus and the rest of the world was going crazy.

I remember my journey home. I was paranoid. I had booked a sleeper bus.  I normally carry my own bed sheet as I have dust allergy and the sheets in buses and trains are always so dusty. I spread my bed sheet on the sleeper. I woke up every few hours panicking because the sheet had moved and I had come in contact with the bed and hence, Coronavirus! Great! Now, I was exhausted from all the work AND paranoid! Finally I told myself that the panic wasn’t going to stop me from contracting the virus, so I might as well go to sleep.

As I reached home, my grandmother was pleasantly shocked to see me. I hadn’t really informed her that I was going home as it was a last minute decision. She stared at me for a while as though trying to comprehend and said,

“You keep fooling me in the name of surprising me. Come here!”, she extended her hands for a hug. I remember that moment so vividly. She had just gotten up, her eyes were sleepy, her silver hair disheveled, her naughty smile playing on her lips, clearly happy that her granddaughter was home and she stood there like a baby, asking for a hug. I didn’t hug her.

“I have traveled for long and it is risky.” I said my heart heavy while I badly wanting to hug her and she understood.

Meanwhile, my sister called me up that very same day and told me that a person at her work place who had returned from Greece, was tested positive and that the company had asked everyone to work from home. She knew that it was easier telling me than telling our parents, as they’d panic. It was a confusing ten minutes. To be clear, my sister did not have any contact with the guy as he was on a different floor and he was in office only for 2 hours after he came back from Greece and she hadn’t gone to office that day. The chances that she or anyone else (apart from the ones in direct contact with him) contracted the virus were almost zero.

She had two choices: Either to come home and stay in quarantine or to just stay in Bangalore. But her room did not have any cooking facility and we worried that there might come a point where she wouldn’t get anything to eat. Besides, we believed in Kerala government’s crisis control mechanisms better than anyone else. I’m not putting any State down here. Through various crisis over the years – be it Nipah or floods – we have seen the efficiency and we just believe more in the Government. So we asked her to come home immediately. To be on the safer side, we dropped my 86 year old Grandmother at my Uncle’s place before my sister came home because travel from Bangalore had its risks too.

The plan was that once my sister reached Kochi, I’ll take her to the hospital, get her tested and then go home (or be quarantined if that becomes necessary). At that point of time, we didn’t know anything about testing for Coronavirus. We assumed that if we had any doubts, we could just go and get ourselves tested.

But soon we found out that it didn’t work that way. As there were very few cases back then, all monitored by the Health officials, the people traveling between states were asked to quarantine themselves at home. However all were required to inform the Health officials if they traveled between States. Only if they showed any symptoms would they be tested. And thus started our long days of home quarantine because it was necessary, it was the right thing to do and if we all did it right, we’d soon win over the virus. But it wasn’t that easy, was it?

Image Courtesy

It has been 28 days since we dropped Ammamma off at Uncle’s place. I haven’t hugged her yet. I am beginning to miss her warm, cosy hug that smells of Vicco cream and Mysore sandal soap. I never considered myself to be a hugs person. But now, there’s nothing more I want than to see her and hug her.


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Featured Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash


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  1. Nisha

    I am missing hugging my friends too. If we meet someone in the building, we have to stand so far from them. This isn’t easy on anyone.. glad you all could be together in this time of crisis.

    1. Ranjini

      Yes. We have to be wary at all times!

  2. Dashy

    It’s a very thoughtful thing you’ve done to shift your grandmother. Also, a good decision to have your sister come home asap. And yes, tests aren’t so easily available. But the positive cases have come for patients with absolutely no symptoms. We need to be vigil even if we may seem healthy. Stay safe <3

  3. Swarnali Nath

    I am a little bit obsessed with the thought of homecoming. Loved your post.

  4. Reema D'souza

    It is good that you are at home! It is a difficult time for all of us. Hope things get better soon! Hope you get your hugs from my Grandma. I miss my Grandma too! It has been a year since I met her. I was supposed to visit her for Easter but now that isn’t possible.

  5. mommytincture

    You got me at missing hugging your sister. My sister is far away in Canada and my parents in Chandigarh. And sitting herein Kolkata I don’t want anything more but to hug them.

  6. Archana (@yenforblue)

    Its a difficult time indeed.. Stay Safe Stay Home..

    1. Ranjini

      Thank you. You too 🙂

  7. Jyoti Jha

    A difficult time for all. Hope you get your hugs soon. And that we are all ready to embrace our near and dear ones again.

    1. Ranjini

      So true. Thank you. I hope the same for you. 🙂

  8. Cherishing My Life

    So true Ranju, i can understand your feeling of missing your ammamma. At the same time,I am very proud of you taking this precaution to a higher level and being protective o the society at large! If this kind of diligence is followed all over the pandemic should be ashamed of itself and disappear. Let us cross this phase soon.

  9. Shweta Suresh

    You are right. Kerala had a better mechanism to deal with the disease, maybe because of prior experience with Nipah. The situation is much better compared to other states. I understand your emotions. Though it might have felt tough, it was the best decision for your Ammamma. Stay safe, take care.
    As for me, I travelled from Trivandrum to Bangalore after my leave because I had to get back to office since we didn’t have work from home. The lockdown happened after I got here. My grandparents are with us and I didn’t want to risk going back. So here I am, safe in Bangalore but away from my family.

  10. DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter

    A brilliantly narrated first-hand account of the panic that #coronavirus and the #lockdown have spread. Amazing post.
    #DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter #BlogchatterA2Z

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