COVID-19 Got Me; Don’t Let it Get You

Biraj Adhikari's home workstation
Home workstation - Photo by Biraj Adhikari

I recently tested positive for COVID-19 and I am recovering. As I write my first blog post for BNS, I am actually confined to my cozy room. Thankfully, my room has a dual-monitor setup for work and an Xbox for fun. I recently also got a reasonably fancy external microphone that I am testing to record podcasts for BNS while I isolate myself. 

I also have my beautiful [younger] sister in the next room to scream at when I need something. Yet, sometimes I suspect she pretends to not hear me when I give her a shout because I can hear her Instagram and Snapchat notifications going off. I think she is aware that I am recovering fast and screaming at her for no reason.

A few weeks ago, my mom tested positive for COVID-19. She isolated herself from the rest of the family for 14 days. Thankfully, her symptoms were not severe, and she recovered quickly. As her isolation period came to an end, I started feeling fatigued and had a mild sore throat. At first, I thought I was being paranoid. However, it was confirmed when my test result came back positive. At the peak of my symptoms, I had a fever and sore throat along with sneezing and coughing. It has since subsided quickly, and I am feeling much better now. Luckily, my father and sister tested negative and have not shown any symptoms yet.

I think this experience has taught us to be extra cautious, especially for when our isolation ends. None of us want to be locked up inside our house for more than two weeks again.

It also serves as a lesson to those who are not taking this pandemic seriously.

Early on when the virus had just entered the United States, my dad would question whether the pandemic was real or just a media hype. I did not have an answer, but l I knew we needed to start taking precautionary measures.  

The last global pandemic was the 1918 influenza also known as the Spanish Flu. It was unheard of in my parents’ lifetime. So, I understood their disbelief that a pandemic could bring the world to a close-to-complete halt. Even I was unsure of what to expect in the ensuing days.  

One typical day in March, when we entered the Costco parking lot, we saw a man pulling a flatbed cart full of supplies. When I say “full”, I mean it was likely a few feet tall pile – consisting of dry food, meat, chips, cleaning wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, dish washing liquid, water bottles, and more – and he was pulling the cart behind him with both hands. 

We steered our eyes around the parking lot and saw everyone else doing the same. It suddenly felt real and imminent. All of our disbelief and doubt over the pandemic was thrown out of the window. We grabbed some basic essential supplies – just enough to last us a month or two – and left the retail store.

“Wow, I never thought I would see such chaos,” said my dad – the shock was palpable on his face.

It has been six months since that incident. Back then, we believed the modern scientific community, backed by advanced technology, would bring this virus to its heels at its earliest. 

Sadly, that did not happen.

My parents were laid off from their jobs for five months. I continued working from home – I feel grateful that I am able to do so. My sister’s plans to start college life on campus was postponed, and it additionally gave her more opportunities to steal my share of ‘chatpate’. 

A bit of normalcy returned for my parents when my mom was called back to work in late August. However, the normalcy was short-lived, and the pandemic got my family. It has proven it can be lethal unless we take proper measures. Let’s keep ourselves mentally and physically healthy and hope that we can all sit around the table with our extended family and friends and have a proper meal as soon as possible.

Please know that this pandemic is real. COVID-19 is real and it has spread wide and far. It has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives. COVID-19 will not take me because my future blog post is due soon and I’ve a lot of other things to share.

But, I beg you to be serious about COVID-19 because this is real. And it has taken so many lives already! 

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Born as a Bhutanese-Nepali refugee in south east Nepal, Mr. Adhikari is a vibrant young American who rejoices in learning, teaching, and working with new technologies while serving the community through various non-profits and community empowerment projects. He currently resides in Springfield, MA.

After graduating from high school at the age of 15, Mr. Adhikari continued actively volunteering at local community organizations such as the Bhutanese Society of Western MA (BSWM), United Games and Sports Association (UGASA), and Hindu Sanatan Sewa Samaj (HSSS). In August 2017, he was appointed as the Program Coordinator for BSWM.

While volunteering as the program coordinator, Mr. Adhikari streamlined the organization with the introduction of various new technologies to aid in project management and regular organizational operations. He oversaw the planning and execution of three successful annual cultural events. These events were attended and lauded by local senators, representatives, and mayors thus helping bridge the gap between the community and local government. Mr. Adhikari also coordinated children and adult health awareness workshops, drug and alcohol awareness workshops amongst various professional skill training. He also rejuvenated the organizational website and accelerated the presence of BSWM in social media platforms.

The efforts of Mr. Adhikari and his BSWM teammates, to empower the community, reached a commendable height as the organization was awarded the Community Hero Award 2019 by the Asian American Commission of Massachusetts.

He continues today as the program coordinator while also serving as the project coordinator for the organization led oral history project – The Untold Stories of Bhutanese Americans in Western MA.

In his day job, Mr. Adhikari is a full-stack software developer. He works on cloud based educational software utilizing micro-services architecture. He works with a wide stack of technologies which include multiple programming languages like Python, JavaScript, and frameworks like Flask, Django and React.

Mr. Adhikari holds his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Western New England University in Springfield, MA.

He loves exploring ethnic cuisines from around the world. He is a big soccer enthusiast and supports the Football Club of Barcelona. To keep his mind and body active, Mr. Adhikari is fond of playing tennis, hiking, and indoor rock climbing. Mr. Adhikari joins Bhutan News Service with the goal of serving the greater Bhutanese Diaspora and helping preserve the identity and history of his community.


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