I'm in my final months of medical school, and I spend my nights ramping up for the board exams. For the first time in five years, I'll be home for more than a month long stretch. You'd think I'd enjoy the experience more than I do.
After spending the day attending online classes, and reading textbooks, my dad and I have a drink in the kitchen. I've recently identified the fumes of his cigarettes as the scent of my childhood. Every time he smokes, I'm reminded that he's more likely to get infected with the coronavirus than if he didn't. As anyone who has a smoking Asian parent knows, telling them off doesn't do anything.
"If we get the virus," he says suddenly, "will the hospital you study in take us?"
I don't answer immediately. It's a trick question: the system in my country operates on money and power. We have neither. I say: "they will if there's room." Which is the official statement.
What my dad means to ask is: if any of us contract the virus, will the system you've gone through protect you?
He then shows me an article about advance directives. I shrink a couple of feet and feel like a child again. I want to say that we don't have to worry about that yet, but who am I kidding? Death is playing his own Russian roulette game throughout the city, and who knows which door he'll knock on next.
I don't mind dying. I've accepted it. It's a hazard of my profession. But I don't want to bury my dead. I didn't spend five years away from everyone I cared about just for their lives to end like that.
But who am I kidding? When did death ever listen to the living?