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Trapped in an Istanbul apartment for seven weeks – and counting

The view from the author’s room. She hasn’t been able to be outside for seven weeks. (Bilge Nur Guven/YJI)

ISTANBUL – The virus doesn’t discriminate, whether it be class, gender or race.

We say that everyone around the world is experiencing the same situation. But just like all the generalizations that sound musical to the ear, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In Istanbul, where 16 million people reside, most people live in apartments. Depending on your financial situation, you might be able to afford a villa on the seaside, a duplex with a terrace, an average apartment, or a slum.

A balcony in the author’s apartment. (Bilge Nur Guven/YJI)

The virus doesn’t discriminate, but the system does.

Workers who have no choice but to work without masks have a much higher chance of infection and spreading the coronavirus to their loved ones than the people who have the opportunity to work from home.

We are faced with a paradox: quarantine is both a privilege and a burden. It’s a privilege to the underprivileged, a burden to the indulged.

May 4 marks day 52 of quarantine and 49 days since I have stepped outside.

The Turkish government instituted a curfew for people under 20 and over 65 years old. On the weekends and national or religious holidays, the curfew is in force for the whole population.

The view of Istanbul from the author’s living room window. (Bilge Nur Guven/YJI)

A monetary fine is issued immediately if you are caught in breach of any of these policies.

I am a 17-year-old living in Istanbul, Turkey. It is illegal for me to go out of the house. I live in an apartment building with my mom and younger brother. Being confined to such a small space has been quite the challenge.

Cats Luna and Dombili check out the view of Istanbul. (Bilge Nur Guven/YJI)

For some fresh air, I can stick my head out the window. For exercise, I can try at-home workouts. For entertainment, I can dive into the marvels of the internet, play with the cats or come up with innovative ways to annoy my brother.

But I can’t step foot outside. Sure, I could go down to the parking lot where we have a small gazebo, but that would mean risking contact with people.

To be perfectly honest, I am not very vexed by my situation. I am lucky enough to be in good health and have all the facilities to study from home.

What more could I ask for?

Confinement is undoubtedly difficult for everyone. In the last eight weeks, I’ve felt lonely, depressed, trapped.

I have also found peace that I hadn’t even realized I was lacking because of the constant hustle of life.

You can never go wrong with Turkish coffee and chocolates, especially in quarantine. (Bilge Nur Guven/YJI)

In this time of utter uncertainty and crisis, we must become aware of the things we have chosen to ignore.

As humanity, we have to take a look at ourselves and ask how we got to this point, and how we continue on from it.

If one thing is certain in this time of doubt, it’s that we can’t go back to normal. Because normal was the problem.

Bilge Nur Guven is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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2 Comments

  • Such genuine words..I enjoyed every bit of this piece. Allow me to say that my mom has the same set of cup and saucer :)) Well done, Bilge! Harika <3 <3 <3