Born on March 4, 1997 in Preshevë, as the first female child in the family, but my parents’ second child they named me Egzona [Joy]. According to my mother’s stories, a great joy befell the house the day I arrived and they wanted that joy to accompany them all their lives. As a kid, I remember the games with my neighborhood friends, the first days of school, then my adolescence, the activities and events with my friends, but I never remember being isolated even for a day like I am today.
Because of my studies I had to leave my family when I was 18 years old and start a new life in Prishtina, in the capital city that I madly love. Currently, I am in the second year of bachelor studies in the Department of Sociology at the University of Prishtina. I enjoy this field of study so much, especially the fourth semester, the classes were more attractive and we had promised ourselves but also our professors much work and activities.
March 10, 2020 was a regular day of student routine. As any other day, I walked towards the Faculty of Philosophy gladly to attend a lecture in gender studies, lectured by Professor Linda Gusia. Students really liked this lecture and it made us so curious and sparked a debate among ourselves, that we could hardly wait for the next Tuesday to meet again. At the beginning of the lecture, after our greetings, the professor told us a little about the situation that was going on in the world due to the Covid-19 virus, and how we should be careful. Then the lecture started, the debate between colleagues, the three hours we had were not enough for the desire to understand more about the topic in question.
In the evening, the news about the situation in Kosovo started, and on March 11, 2020, the decision was made to close all institutions. I was at home and upon hearing the news I called my friend to find out what was going on there. She told me that everything was closed, even the student dormitories, and we were not allowed to enter anymore, not even to get our things. I had three, four books with me with which I comforted myself that they would be of help for a week. But, things were not going as I thought they would, because the spread of the virus began and the measures were more strict.
This situation was going on for weeks, until it started to become boring and “chaotic.” Sometimes I comforted myself by thinking about everything that was happening and said to myself, “Maybe humans have tired the earth so much with pollution that it forced us to stay inside. Maybe we have forgotten to live properly?” Despite this, not having any obligations during the day was very difficult for me, especially when I realized that we will not go back to university, it was even more boring.
Even though I was near my family, I had a lot of time in my hands to reminisce about many things, to go back to life stories, children’s games and finish works that were halfway done, there was still an emptiness in my soul. I missed people who were part of my daily life, but not just that, it was the other part of my family.
Leaving school caused another exhaustion that we could hardly wait to find a solution. It finally happened, the University of Prishtina started organizing online courses and we were getting ready. As we got used to the program, we began meetings and lectures with professors and colleagues. You have no idea how much we had missed it, there was no lecture that we did not mention the faculty classrooms. Sometimes I said, it’s good that technology has advanced, but it still has a disadvantage, it does not have the pleasure of embracing like when you’re present. The meetings went on every day and it was a great help for us as students, but still the longing did not go away, especially when we said, “Ahh, the things we were going to do in the collective memory, ahh the plans in Gender Studies.” That was painful. I never wanted such a challenge, to stay within the walls, I never wanted it in this period of studies, of the years that I loved it so much.
Ahh, what time has befallen the world these months. Covid-19, a virus that changed our lives within a single moment. We are all isolated, some far away from their family, some close to the family, unemployed who are living on family savings as much as we have, but not all of us, because some don’t even have food to eat. People are trying to help each other to get through this challenge together, taking care of ourselves to protect our loved ones. You cannot imagine that at that time, to love meant to stay away from someone and not to hug them, this was the greatest love towards that person, because that way you protected them from danger.
To get through this challenge, we had to listen to the appeals of our heroes, of doctors who were staying in the front line fighting this virus every day, protecting people, because it is about more than the Hippocratic Oath, this was about their strong and fearless spirit.
And today, a month since quarantine, in a way I am getting used to accepting this condition, I create the mood for myself, sometimes even boredom and angriness but well managed. I start the day with an “unpaid coffee” accompanied by a book, then I continue with sport activities and work in the garden. Since we are all at home, our work is also divided in some way, each of us does something around the house, someone prepares the food, someone else does the shopping, someone cleans and so on, so that this does not turn into routine, we change responsibilities every two days.
Even though I was tired from using social networks for the first time in my life, every evening I logged on to Facebook to see what is happening in the world and sometimes even debating with someone when I saw a status of the “It’s boring at home, it’s horrible,” who were usually men, and I had to do it, knowing that most women were like that before the virus, so calm down and reflect!
As boring as this time was it still made me think how valuable freedom is, how valuable family is, how valuable love is, how valuable friendship is, how valuable knowledge is, and all of them are free for people. I can’t wait for this situation to be over, to go back to normal life, to be free to move and hug people, to protect the environment and to protect someone whose freedom is being violated, to take more care of people who are alone. Even though we are close to each other, we have never been closer spiritually.
Maybe when this passes, we will not be the same, maybe for some it will be good and for some bad, but we will all have a second chance, and if even after this, we will not be better people, we have not learned anything. I will return, write to tell that we defeated this virus, and I am hugging everyone I love.
Egzona Hajrullahu is a student of Sociology in the Sociology Department at the University of Prishtina. Ms. Hajrullahu shares a first-person account about her experiences while in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Illustration by Renea Begolli