Day 10

I don’t like Snickers but I should have bought more. We bought four months’ worth of food and other stuff in the three days leading up to home imprisonment, August 23rd. Among what we normally buy are items that were bought with starvation in mind. Whereas your mother ensured that we had an adequate amount of rice and dried noodles, I focused on nutritious snacks and junk food. Had I known Snickers isn’t really nutritious despite being made with peanuts, it wouldn’t have made the cut. My oversight proved out to be favorable though. You’d think that I’ve long enjoyed Snickers if you could understand my reaction after each bite.

Except for a few momentary bouts of boredom, the last nine days have been bearable. There hasn’t been much of a change for you and me since we were homebodies anyway as what we once liked to do was barred from us back in May. But, as for your mother, it’s been a big change. She’s had much more free time. So, we’ve been spending most of the day sitting in the family room. When we’re not watching Netflix, we’re usually doing something else while Netflix plays in the background up until your mother orders me to turn off the TV. I’m compliant, normally, because finding a time-worthy flick is difficult. Our new day-to-day routine isn’t as boring as it sounds because you keep us very busy. Rarely do you sit still. You either want to touch or taste everything that we don’t want you to touch or put into your mother, such as the standing fan, wires, slippers … really anything that’s not a toy. You’re a handful. We love it.

We’re literally locked inside of the building. Your mother had tried to go outside five days ago to deliver a package nearby, but she was stopped by security in the lobby and told to go home. Even though the city was in the midst (and still is) of a militarized lockdown, neither of us knew whether or not that also included the property. I don’t think anyone was 100% certain unless they had firsthand experience or heard it though a Vietnamese grapevine. That’s the way things work here partly because the Communist Party of Vietnam has a tendency to pass legislation that is ill-enforced and vague. Just ask the thousands of people who had tried to leave the city by car or motorbike only to be turned back.

We’ve barely made a dent into our food supply. Although we ran out of bread on day #4, whatever vegetables remain aren’t fresh and only one fun-size Snickers are left, our stock of chicken, rice and dried noodles is probably more than enough to last another two to four weeks; and your stock of formula should last another two months. We had bought way too much food in preparation. More than anyone I had seen at the food stores. But this was the first time I have ever had to consider the possibility of starvation. Keeping you, your mother and grandmother fed was a high priority.

Given that the country isn’t at war nor is a natural disaster imminent, I understand that it’s unlikely we would face starvation. But considering the city-wide food shortages since early July and the unknown, it wasn’t something that I was willing to risk. And, let’s face it, the Communist Party of Vietnam has implemented a military enforced lockdown with armed soldiers. It had also come prepared for an unlikely worst-case scenario.

We, hopefully, won’t have to worry about starvation anymore. In the last few days, the Communist Party of Vietnam shifted its rhetoric from fighting a war against COVID-19 to co-existence and has made an attempt to resume third-party food courier services by allowing tens of thousands of third-party food couriers to start working again. The policy reversal hit a roadblock immediately because they were required to pay out-of-pocket for a COVID-19 test each day, which cost more than most earned per day, but the Communist Party of Vietnam later announced that COVID-19 testing for them would be free. That hasn’t yet made a difference as many people are still complaining about starving, some of which are in our building, because operating restrictions are still too cumbersome. But it seems as if policy is moving in the right direction albeit slowly.

Contrary to my previous thoughts, over the last nine days, there were reports that intra-district food delivery was permissible but neither we nor anyone we know had any booking success. Either the reports were fake or intra-district third-party food couriers were few and far between. Your mother had tried to book a driver on several apps unsuccessfully. Also, some food stores were allowed to operate but for delivery-only. Combo packages were being advertised on social media at costs 50%+ more than the retail price of the goods, and included things we typically see in an abundance. Nonetheless, that hasn’t really helped.

We’re hopeful that life will begin to normalize soon. Despite a day-to-day COVID-19 infection rate showing no signs of abating, the Communist Party of Vietnam claims its goals of lower death and high-risk area transmission rates have been met. While those claims might be true since its goals were never made public, they support the changing narrative and, in my opinion, increase the likelihood that some of the draconian measures will be relaxed come September 6th or 15th, the tentative end dates for the military lockdown and Directive 16, respectively. Keep in mind, the Communist Party of Vietnam would not be making that decision with the health and welfare of its people paramount. Foreign big businesses, such as Intel, had threatened to withdraw FDI amounting to billions of US dollars if it couldn’t get COVID-19 under control in September citing unreasonable supply chain disruptions.

Had the Communist Party of Vietnam just waited until September 6th to make any public statements, I would have given it some credit for actually making a decision unmotivated by money.

By the way, neither we nor anyone we know had received any food handouts from the government despite many pictures of camo-dressed Vietnamese men delivering food to homes being published in the news.

Comments are closed