On March 9, my husband, our 2 and 5 year-old daughters and me were ordered by the city of Moscow into a strict 2 week Coronavirus home-confinement because we came back from a holiday in Germany. One absurd thing though, there was nothing at the airport to stop people like us from taking public transport home to quarantine for 14 days. After that, only trash runs at night with surgical masks on were authorized. There was no talk of cheating. Moscow’s network of facial recognition cameras are watching. Getting caught outside could mean deportation.
So here we are home-working with two stir-crazy girls jumping on our knees. Sometimes, living in close quarters, the constant noise, getting run over by a balance bike would get the better of me. Cabin fever would take over, my head would explose and I’d get into stupid arguments with my two-year-old or my husband. But we also learned to appreciate life in slow-motion, cut off from the hectic modern world: watching a snowfall, assembling puzzles, building things with the girls, watching them learn the YMCA moves... We also kept sane and in shape by working out everyday. And friends would drop off pastries, a bottle of wine.
Recording this whole experience in an online illustrated diary, even telling our story in interviews was a great way to cope. It was cathartic, helping make sense of this tremendous coronavirus crisis that was rapidly changing the world. As we entered our quarantine, the rest of Europe was largely free of major “social distancing” measures. As we came out of our isolation, most of our friends and relatives outside Russia, from Paris to Almaty, are confined one way or the other. Our Facebook diary became an animation short, I made a voice over in Russian and edited animations, Codastory published it.
While I have been recording my own state-imposed quarantine in Moscow, I also got hold of my aunt who lives near Bergamo, in the very epicenter center of Italy’s covid-19 outbreak. When I spoke to her. She said: “In our village, they ring church bells when someone dies. These days it is ringing all the time.”
In an effort to comfort each other, the villagers lit candles. “Every house had a candle in the window”
Our two weeks of self-isolation are gone, but we are all still confined two months later without any certain future. Will we some day return to a normal life and what will the new "normal" look like?