21 March, Amman, Jordan

By Gayathri Warnasuriya

I’d already been up for an hour when the air raid siren wailed eerily over Amman, signalling the start of curfew in Jordan. I filmed my empty street, to capture the sound of the siren with a voiceover of birdsong. Of course, I immediately posted it on Facebook. I am addicted to social media at the best of times. In the worst, it’s the hit I need to keep myself distracted and buoyant.

This isn’t really the worst of times. The curfews of my childhood carried menace and fear. There is no fear now, only compliance with an order to stay away from my fellow humans, which I am happy to do, lest I infect them or vice versa. I am fortunate to have warmth, food, family, and internet in my flat. It’s Mother’s Day in Jordan. A forgotten box of chocolates is discovered and re-gifted to me. We may sing from our balcony later, my daughter and I choose a song. In the bubble of our flat, there is joy and no fear.

A tendril of fear circles my heart only when I speak with my father in Sri Lanka. I can’t get to my parents and they can’t get to me. Borders have closed. They are well but I worry about them. My father recently attended an event, and someone there now has respiratory symptoms, so my parents are temporarily self-isolating from each other, as best they can while sharing a home. We promise to Skype later and I wonder how that will work. I spend most of our regular Skype calls asking them to sit closer together so that I can see both their dear faces on the screen.     

Seven hours have passed since the siren sounded and seven hours remain until I can legitimately go to bed. An hour remains until a virtual tea party with a few close friends in Amman. We have all had a week of home-schooling while working at home. We will Skype each other for an hour, drink tea, chat, and laugh. I notice the overripe bananas in the fruit bowl. There is time to bake banana bread before the call. There is time enough today for banana bread, family, friends and love.