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Dear Yuri,

It’s been nearly two full days of travel, some sweat and a fair amount of tears; India to Dubai to South Africa, but that’s for another story. For now, I finally get on my last flight. I’m nearly home. I can see Mom and Dad on the other side of the glass and it’s the weirdest sensation. I want to hug them, but I also don’t want to be close to them. I’m worried. I’ve been in all these countries, on all these planes, airports, around all these people. Shit shit shit. We have discussed this; we’ve thought this through. I take my bag, put it in the other vehicle – Mom drives my bro’s truck – and Mom and Dad get into dad’s truck. We drive home in convoy. This is so strange. Not the welcome I am used to. Suddenly I am launched into the impact of this strange virus in a surreal way. My bubble has, briefly, burst.

I get home, I see my brother, I can’t hug him, I’m not allowed. I try not to cry. I take my bag into the spare room. I get into my prepared room and my folks and Pete have thought of everything; coolie with ice packs in it with milk, beers, fruit and some grub. I have my own water filter, kettle, cutlery, gloves, masks. Pete has made me a special concoction of sanitiser and says he will bring me dinner later. The door closes. Two weeks. Self-isolation. Don’t cry. Remember you are home, and safe. Be grateful. But I cry in the shower, using my brother’s home-made sanitiser, and now I just smell like Dettol from head to foot.

Dad has left a slab of chocolate on my pillow. Mom has put red roses in my room and four books for me to read. Mr brother brings me steak for dinner. And I have a beer. I feel relief, and sadness, and confusion. What the hell is happening out there. I’m exhausted, and I sleep.

Diana, Johannesburg, South Africa


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