Anisah Rahman from Haverstock School has written a diary of family life in isolation.
Date: 20 March
Today is the first day of total lockdown because of the coronavirus. School closed today. I’m feeling apprehensive because I’m a GCSE student who is supposed to be taking exams this summer.
Talking about school, my school decided to do online lessons over Show My Homework. I’m not sure how long this will last. Maintaining a routine in quarantine is difficult, so no matter how much I try, unfortunately I still wake up at 12 noon. The work I need to complete is immense, but I know that it is important to complete all the tasks caused by this unprecedented situation. Most of the work I need to submit (through images I take on my phone or documents I’ve scanned or made on Microsoft Word or PowerPoint) consists of exam papers or exam-style questions.
The uncertainty over how our GCSE exams will work worries me. It’s killing me that there seems to be nothing in the news about exams yet. I know that I have to wait, but I can already feel the anxiousness plunging though me. A miasma of worry and fear is rising within me.
Today I went outside to help my father buy groceries. Shops have been ransacked. Panic buying has reached a new level of extreme. Restrictions have been placed on essential items. Warm sugared fear coated my face. There is literally nothing in shops and I live in a family of six. I’ve never seen Sainsbury’s so empty in my life. We’ve bought some food we could find, but know that it’s not enough.
Returning home, my father and I seem to feel a little ill. It’s weird. I never usually get ill. It might just be my panic and fear for what happens next, who knows?
Date: 27 March
GCSE exams have been officially cancelled. But the government has yet to delve into the details of how our grades will be awarded. Although my predicted grades look good, I feel I could have got an even higher grade for some of my subjects if I took the exams. I’m also really worried about SATs playing a part in my final grades. Yes, those exams I took when I was eleven. Our target grades in English are based on our SATs results. My target grade for English due to SATs is a 5. But the actual grade I have been consistently achieving during my GCSE English course has been a 9. Friends of mine, including me, have cried. I know that this whole lockdown was needed to maintain social distancing and mitigate the impact of coronavirus, but everything I’ve worked for at this point seems to have just been obliterated. I honestly don’t know how to feel.
We’ve received an important letter today. Two of my family members have been identified by the government and NHS as having an extremely high risk of catching coronavirus. This means that our family are not allowed to go outside and must self-isolate for twelve weeks due to our vulnerability to this extremely deadly disease. Our GP has been stressing to us how important this is for my family in order to protect our two most vulnerable family members.
It’s sad though that we can’t go outside as the day looks so beautiful and sunny. But it’s important that we all stay inside to protect everyone. We have to do it for the NHS workers. It’s our duty. But I can’t help but notice from the window how the sun is dripping warmth like hot wax, both soothing and smarting everything below. The outside glows with an incessant light, the heat so strong it dazzles, and a thousand windows take in the view. The horizon ripples, like a bronze shield beaten by a hammer, as though some Greek god had been reborn to hurl shafts of glorious light onto everything outside.
Our online order placed with Ocado and Asda has been cancelled. Sainsbury’s have no delivery slots for the next three weeks. We are running extremely low on food. We genuinely don’t have enough food. We have also not received any vouchers intended for those eligible for free school meals. We don’t know what to do as we can’t even go outside to buy more food.
There is a community group in West Hampstead of volunteers who can help with shopping. We’ve been assigned a volunteer so we’ve sent them a shopping list. Afterwards, our volunteer will drop off the food at our home, which we will pay for by cash.
We now have food, but as there were lots of restrictions on the food, and shops again have been ransacked, it is less food than we anticipated. Hopefully this is enough for one and a half weeks.
The news is dark. Deaths and cases are rising rapidly, increasing every day.
Date: 4 April
Today is my little sister’s birthday! She is turning three today! She loves birthdays, so as a family we are trying our absolute best to make this day as great as we can for her. Spending a birthday in quarantine does have its perks though. We usually buy a huge number of balloons for her, but as all the shops are closed, quarantine has forced us to be creative by drawing and colouring in a big unicorn on cardboard attached to a 3 which we also drew and coloured in. It is genuinely beautiful and my little sister loves it. This moment has made us a family realise how creative we actually are together, and brought us even closer together in this difficult time. We then made a banner of her name, using coloured paper and letters that we printed from the computer. We then strung those letters together with ribbon we found in our home. Afterwards we made origami flowers to glue onto the wrapping of her present.
My mother and I have done our make-up and dressed up to mark the occasion. My two younger brothers and father have also dressed up in their best casual clothes. My little sister has worn two beautiful dresses we bought much earlier in preparation for her birthday. We asked a family friend if they could drop off the birthday cake and candles we paid for. Luckily, they came through.
The day was perfect. My little sister loved it, and we made so many videos and pictures to document the occasion. My little sister’s smile, laughs and excitement lit up the whole room. It was enough to make us all realise that everything would soon be OK. We just have to work together and show unity, because eventually we can all get through this scary time.