Quarantine Diaries | Indonesia : Seeking Happiness Within

Guest post by Tyas from Weps Gallery

Eighty-four days have passed since I quarantined myself at home.

I don’t usually count days unless an event has a special meaning to me, but I’ve felt the need to document my days during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, so I’ve been counting the days. I even created an album on Google Drive where I upload a picture that sums up my day every day after the lockdown was imposed in Indonesia.

I named the album #dirumahaja; it’s a hashtag Indonesians use to encourage people to just stay at home (di rumah aja = just stay/be at home). 

Not only does the album help me remember the things that I did yesterday or in the previous few days or weeks, but it has also helped me cherish the little things that I can do at home with my family. Or the voice calls I’ve had with my boyfriend. Or the time I now have to write a blog post (last time I posted was in June last year, I think?).

Indonesia detected the first two cases on March 2nd, which I think is a bit later than the neighboring countries. As positive cases increased by day, the government finally imposed a regulation to shut down schools and other public places in mid-March, encouraging students to study from home and workers to work from home.

So yeah, starting from March 16th I had to study at home through online platforms. The regulations have changed in some areas since then, but one of the regulations that impacted most Indonesian citizens is probably the ban on leaving the city we’re currently in.

When I first wrote this draft, it was still 62 days into the quarantine and it was in the month of Ramadan (around April or May), where Muslims fast for a whole month (30 days). And after Ramadan ends, on Shawwal 1st (the month after Ramadan in the Islamic calendar), we usually gather with our families and relatives to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr.

In my case, my family would usually gather in my grandparents’ house. My cousins, aunts, and uncles would come visit too. That moment is what my sisters and I wait for the most every year. But now that we’re all fighting this pandemic (and we don’t want to make the situation worse), we had to celebrate it in separate places.

I’d already been in my grandparents’ house with my sister even before Ramadan started, but my parents and my other sisters were in another city 217 km away, my aunts and uncles were also so far away from us. Ramadan this year felt different. Eid al-Fitr, too, was different. At that time, I thought, we wouldn’t be feeling as festive as we’d usually be, but it’d be okay because this was for the good, right? We couldn’t risk our own and other people’s lives just because we wanted to be together with our families to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. 

Even though we’re apart, we’re still going to make this holiday celebration warm and festive.

That was what I had told myself. I mean, we now have video conference platforms that we can use to stay connected with other people, right? This pandemic wouldn’t be able to let our emotions down when it’s the time we should’ve been feeling happy and forgiving of each other. That’s the spirit!

And so, when Shawwal 1st finally came, my sister, my grandparents, and I went to my cousins’ house (we lived in the same city) and we set up the place and necessary equipment for a video conference with our big family. When I say ‘big’, I really mean it. It was the whole family of my great-great-grandfather, Sastrowiyata. So, yes, it was the whole Sastrowiyatan family! Although the family gathering didn’t feel the same, I still felt happy for the opportunity to see my family again this year.

If there’s another positive effect I can gain from being at home most of the days, it is the additional time I have in my hands to learn a language. Well, yep, I’ve been learning Korean for a year or so and tell you what, this is the time I’m most productive in making progress! Obviously, I don’t study it every day, but I have become more committed to advancing my Korean skills in every two days. When I’m really in the mood, I can study a new grammatical structure and review my vocabulary list and read Webtoons and… the list continues!

But, again, it’s not always a good day for me, haha. There were some days where I felt like I hit the rock bottom, too, but I think that’s only normal. I had those moments where I just suddenly felt sad for no reason at all, too. It happened several times in these past 84 days, but I think I’ve found the cure. It’s talking to people. Like, on the phone. Not over chats. Talking to my friends or my family helped me forget my problems for a moment and after the call ended, I felt way better. At least that worked for me.

It made me think that, after all, we’re social beings. We need to interact with other humans, whether it be a friend, a family member, a partner, or even a stranger. When talking to another person, I can share my thoughts and my feelings and get feedback from them. And usually it’s because of the feedback that I become able to think clearer about my problems and that helps me solve my problems better. Those human interactions are what we lack because of this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have it. A quick phone call with a dearest someone will do so much! 

All that aside, I really hope the situation will be better very soon. I pray that this pandemic will be over soon and we all can return to our normal life before all this happened. That may be a long way to go, but let’s have faith and do this together .

About the author

Tyas is a full-time student, a hobbyist illustrator, and a travel blogger from Indonesia. As much as she likes studying industrial and systems engineering, she enjoys drawing, writing, watching Studio Ghibli movies, and learning Korean and Spanish in her free time. She blogs over at Weps Gallery. You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter and Grafolio!

Quarantine Diaries is a blog series where bloggers from different countries share their quarantine stories to narrate their experiences and remind us that we all are in it together.

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  1. Helen

    Glad you are staying safe. It has been such an emotional rollercoaster. I have no idea what day it is half of the time! As you say being able to contact loved ones is so important. I’ve too been learning a language – Spanish (although I did do for A Level many years ago!). Best of luck!

    Lots of love, Helen x

  2. Tyas

    Thank you for the feature, Sakshi <3 your Quarantine Diaries series is an interesting way to read stories about how people cope with their new life in quarantine. I'll be sure to check the rest of the Quarantine Diaries posts <3

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  3. Vinn

    Thanks for sharing and dealing this pandemic in a positive way. Everything is totally different since then, as much as we want to be with our loved ones, we sacrifice being physically away. Good thing there is technology for us to connect somehow. We remain hopeful this shall pass soon. Take care everyone!

  4. Amanda

    Hey Sakshi. This is such an interesting series. I have enjoyed reading the Indonesian version, Ramadan was quite different for Moslems this year. And I agree that actually talking in the phone makes things so much better.