Finally, the long-awaited State of Emergency has been declared in Tokyo and several other prefectures last Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

Don’t get me wrong. I was waiting for this not because I don’t want to work because honestly, I do! I love seeing the cute faces of my little students and I always look forward to their antics and learning moments each day. So why was I waiting for that declaration? With the rising coronavirus cases here in Tokyo, being outside (especially in a very packed train) has become very scary for me. For the past two weeks, the Governor of Tokyo has already asked Tokyoites to stay in their homes during the weekend. Fine. Most people followed the request. The usual busy streets of Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro among others were unusually quiet. But then comes Monday. Crowded stations. Jam packed trains. What is the use of being at home the entire weekend when you will be in a crowded train the next Monday, right?

I know I’m being paranoid, but we all know that this virus can be passed on easily if people are standing close to each other which is exactly the scenario in a train every single workday morning.

Just imagine how scared I would be the moment I’d step inside. I would be looking around, suspicious of everyone around me because they might be virus carriers already. It’s like watching the horror movie, The Nun, in a scene where the girl was walking along the dark hallway with a candle in hand and she didn’t know that the demon nun was already behind her. She felt it but she didn’t know where it was because she couldn’t see it. It’s the same when I’m inside a packed train these days. I know that the virus is there somewhere but I just don’t know where it is. And that scares the hell out of me.

What kept me sane throughout my train ride from Kita-Senju to Ikebukuro though is the fact that when I’d look around, everyone (well except for a handful of stubborn people) would be wearing masks. Then once inside the train, people would be very quiet that you would hear even the slightest sound coming from a plastic bag.

“This scenario reduces the chances of saliva or any kinds of fluid from flying or dropping on any surface.”, said me to myself.

Yes, talking to myself and telling this to myself can calm my nerves. Plus, I have already mastered the art of standing (or sometimes sleeping!) in a moving train without touching anything and with my hands inside the pockets of my jacket. Well, I still sometimes wonder until now how I do it.

The declaration of the State of Emergency is indeed a welcome respite for me and for some others who are also paranoid like me— a respite from all the anxiety, fear and paranoia of the unknown and of the invisible nemesis. I just hope that this COVID-19 pandemic will end soon.