I am in the high-risk category, but I still have a family to take care of
The baby I cared for was 30 days old when I started. I spent 30 hours a week with her and experienced her first smile. I screamed for joy as I heard the first sound of a tooth hit the spoon when her first tooth was sprouting. She would sleep to my lullaby in my arms when she was sick. I helped her roll, crawl and held her hand to support her first steps. I taught her the first words. I miss her badly. It wasn’t only a baby-sitting job for me — it was fun, and I loved this baby as she was my own grandchild. Since the first outbreak of the virus, I have not been allowed to go back to my baby-sitter job.
I am myself in a high-risk category with a smaller paycheck\; right now my daughter and my son who lost their jobs and are living with me. Three adults and two big dogs in a small apartment where pets are not allowed.
This photo and this situation reminds me of the days when I fled my country. I was seven months pregnant with my son and my daughter was five years old when my husband and I escaped Iran and took asylum in Germany. After the birth of my son, we were transferred from the refugee camp to a five-story building, each floor consisting of two two-bedroom apartments and each room was dedicated to a family of three or four. Our family was accommodated in a small room on the first floor with a bunk bed for four people, a small wooden table, three chairs and a black-and-white TV. Those were the days when we escaped the horrors of death, but we were grateful for every breath, just happy to be alive.
Once again, we took refuge in each other for fear of death, but we are grateful for being together in these days of fear and hope.
Aside from watching over my kids, I am also my mother’s caregiver. I have to take care of her every day as she is currently undergoing chemotherapy. As a single mom and head of the family, when I leave the house, I’m afraid of getting sick in the commute between two houses, grocery stores, and doctor’s visits and possibly harming my mother since her immune system is not strong enough to fight the virus.
In addition, the beginning of spring is the Iranian new year, Nowruz. At Nowruz, all families come together and celebrate, but this year each of us sat at the table alone to celebrate. This was just one side of the story\; the other one was the cancellation of CSUN’s Iranian Club and Nowruz celebration. We invited 400 people for our big event and spent eight weeks preparing our cultural event. We paid for the hall, ordered food, beverages, sweets and presents. We invited musicians and dancers but three days before our event, we canceled it.
So, instead of the big event, I prepared special new year dishes and went to my mother’s house where we have managed a Zoom meeting with the rest of our family from Iran, Germany, Canada, Texas and Washington. Thanks to technology, we were able to see and talk to each other.
Now my biggest concern and fear is the financing bottleneck and unemployment. Since my baby-sitter job was not an official job, I cannot claim unemployment. Although I reported my second job to the IRS, I don’t know if it would be counted. It is clear that due to the outbreak of coronavirus the whole world is struggling, but for some including me this pandemic is a double burden, emotionally and financially. Fortunately for now we are alive and there is hope for better days if not for all, for some of us. In the end I would like to mention the poem of the contemporary Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri, who said, “One should live, as long as there is an anemone flower.”