Something positive: “I am stuck on a resort in the Maldives with my family and I am safe”

Afshyna Aishath shares with Prerna Shah her unique experience of staying put at a resort in the Maldives during the lockdown. She speaks of the need for kindness and generosity during this crisis

Prerna Shah
| Updated: April 25th, 2020

I know this sounds unreal and I wondered whether I should write about this in the first place. But this was also a story worth telling. It has its own merits.

The lockdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a lot of grief in the world. And that is why, when someone posts a photograph of resting on a sunny beach, with pristine blue waters spread out in the front, like a baby’s soothing blanket, and a book faithfully by their side, your first reaction is — can this be true? And then, how incredibly beautiful and fortunate!

The photograph, posted by a woman on a forum that revolves around books and reading, piqued my curiosity. We soon got talking and she told me her story of how she came to spend the lockdown in a resort, on an island in the Maldives.

I was really happy for her. Because in a world that is enveloped by grief, loss and fear, I tend to cheer every moment of joy.

So, this is her story, in her words.

I am Afshyna Aishath. My husband works on a project basis at this resort in the Maldives. We live in the city. In the Maldives, all the islands are separated by the sea. I came to this resort for the kids’ study break. Because of my husband’s work, we get free accommodation and food.

In the Maldives, tourism is a great source of revenue. This was supposed to be our high season — a time of the year when we expect and get many tourists. But then this Corona thing happened. An Italian tourist tested positive. He was at another resort, but naturally, everyone was alarmed. We are not a very rich nation. We don’t really grow all the food we need so, obviously, there was a great sense of wanting to protect the country.

Very soon, the authorities sprung into action. Quarantine facilities were set up on another island. Most of the resorts were emptied since a lot of guests on these resorts are from all over Europe. When we arrived on this island, there were tourists from Russia, Switzerland, Germany, and even Italy, but everyone soon left.

Now, we were stuck. Going from one island to another was prohibited and the airport was also shut down. In hindsight, I think, we are glad to be here on the island. The capital city is congested and the cases are increasing day by day. I have just heard today that there are now 70 cases and all the islands are all locked down.

This island that we are on, there’s not a single person here who is COVID positive. We are safe. We can move around anywhere inside the island.

The resort has about 160 of its staff that has stayed put. And they are from different countries.

We all eat together at the staff canteen. When the guests were still at the resort, the buffets were laid out every day and we joined the guests. Now it’s just us and the staff, including the women who work at the spa in the resort. I actually don’t do any cooking. The chefs of the resort are here and they prepare all our lunches and dinners and breakfasts. The supplies can be stretched if the lockdown continues for a very long time but, at the moment, we have all the groceries and stocks that we need.

The kids can go to the sea, the pool. They play football and cricket.

If they fancy, they can go to the courts too — volleyball and basketball. Everyone is free to do anything — all the recreational facilities are open for all the staff.

I home-school the children. I enjoy the sea. I am just a mom minding my two little ones.

God is great. He has kept us safe. This is my first Ramadan ever that I am away from my home, but I am grateful. I wish that this Ramadan brings more kindness and generosity and we give these with all of our hearts, especially to those who need it the most.

I know my experience of the lockdown is a bit unique. I share some photographs for my friends — of the sea, of the greenery. I don’t edit these pictures or videos. I send them to friends so that they can get a piece of the peace and tranquillity that this place is brimming over with. We all need peace and healing.

This is my lockdown story and I pray that the world recovers from the virus very soon.

Prerna Shah has worked as a journalist, content and communications professional and she blogs here.