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  • Writer's pictureBehind the Mask

Paranoia — New York

Updated: May 20, 2021

Paranoia: a word I had used for a bit, before the world paused due to the pandemic. I remember mid-February, when my family and I took a flight to visit my brother in college, how obsessional it felt for me to see a couple of passengers diligently wiping all around their seats in the plane. During that trip, my dad started talking about the signs of what was coming and how we should be washing our hands and using hand sanitizers. I was seeing a couple of friends posting images in social media of their parents storing tons of paper toilet and disinfecting wipes, which seemed ridiculous. A couple of weeks passed and my mom was insisting for me to wear gloves and mask while commuting to and from school. At that time, it seemed like only sick people wore masks. Paranoia. Turns out, it wasn’t.

It took about a week or two after New York schools closed for the pandemic to reach its pinnacle in our city. It seemed as if there were two movies simultaneously playing. One was inside my house, in slow motion, as I adapted to online learning, which involved a great amount of self-learning, and being confined with my parents at home. Another was tragic and fast-forward, as numbers of infected people and death were rising everyday. Time Square, a bubbling tourist attraction that was normally crowded, seemed like a ghost town. Our city suddenly became the epicenter of the disease and those who could, left. The others stayed, some hid, others tried to help. Every day, at 7:00 PM, thousands of people would come together to clap and cheer for the frontline heroes who were risking their own lives to save others.

— Mia Kaur, 15

Queens, New York


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