We’re in day two of isolation when the doorbell rings.
I throw on my mask, unlock the door, and peer through the slats in our gate. The gentleman holds papers in his hand. There are only a few possibilities, having lived here for a couple years. A utility notice. Request for donations.
Or what I know is the reason he’s here.
I’ve got your COVID notice
I pick up, my Vietnamese limits straining
I thank him, take the paper and bring it inside.
The first page is exclusively in Vietnamese and looks official. I don’t really need to decode it yet. Pretty sure it’s telling me and the rest of the crew to stay home. Hunker down. I’m okay with that.
Why do they need 3 pages to tell me so?
Curious, I leaf through the rest of the pack and am surprised by what I see. A detailed list of every F0 positive case on our block. I scan the table, looking for Rhino’s name.
There he is
Turns out they’ve combined his first and first middle name into one, but it works. The list is 70 names long, and I’m amazed at the detail: names, addresses, number of people in the household who are F0
Wow, are expectations around medical privacy ever different in this part of the world.
Or maybe it’s just the times, worldwide, they are a changin’.
I wonder whether we should take comfort or be perturbed to know everyone on our block knows exactly which households are dealing with COVID.
There’s a pillar-style light that faces our street. Because we’ve been isolating, I haven’t seen the front in days.
So I’m surprised when I see the flash of reddish-pink.
Four corners, solidly taped in place
địa điểm đang thực hiện cach ly y te moi nguoi khong tiep xuc gan
And below, in English
Households with people quarantining please Do no make closre contact in order to prevent covid-19
Tuesday’s date hastily scrawled below
And my mind goes to plagues, and Monty Python, and scarlet letters.
bring out your dead
But then I remember, that living here is a choice.
At its heart, a collective sense of good.
There’s no question of it all, no ambiguity. And somewhat paradoxically, little evidence of blind adherence to authority. Vietnamese are not afraid to ask the questions.
But then, satisfied or not, they get in line.
That we are in this together. We have dealt with worse. We can trust those in charge.
And we can trust one another.
Despite the fact that numbers are up, that COVID is a steamroller, flattening the way
there’s no doubt of being ready to bounce back.