A book of stories about life during COVID-19 lockdowns will give future generations a glimpse into life during the pandemic.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel, launched by Blacktown City Council Libraries earlier this month, will be housed in the archives of both the federal and NSW state libraries.
Compiled by local author Emie Roy, the idea for the book came about from stories she heard during the pandemic, which were “stranger than fiction”.
“At some point, I thought this could be something valuable for the future generations to see how we coped and survived this point of time,” she told Hope 103.2.
Ms Roy believed the value of the book will increase as time goes by.
“It’s not just about what you want to read today, or next year or a couple of weeks later… a 100 or 150 years later, it might be quite significant.”
“I thought this could be something valuable for the future generations to see how we coped and survived this point of time,” – author Emie Roy
The name of the book was a phrase Ms Roy heard during one of the premier’s daily press conferences.
“It had a big impact on me and I trained myself to think of it that way – that it is not the doomsday we are heading to, there will be a silver lining, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
“Gradually, I realised that it gave me hope to look forward to a time when this will all become history; when I was thinking about the name for the book, it is this beam of hope that I wanted to focus on.”
The book contains 50 stories from people across Greater Sydney to the Blue Mountains.
The book contains 50 stories from people across Greater Sydney to the Blue Mountains, including stories from health workers and public servants and tales of social isolation, all telling a narrative of how everyday lives changed.
“From what I’ve seen during the pandemic and… from the stories in this book, is that we all waited for that light at the end of the tunnel to flash upon us, but I think we eventually learnt to seek that from within,” Ms Roy said.
“We learned to find solutions, we learned to live with COVID… we found it from within, nobody could give that light or flash that light on us.”
“In that situation, we empathise with both the doctor as well as the patient, which is a perspective that we don’t usually think about,” – Emie Roy
One of her favourite stories in the book is Wallpapers by Dr Pramod Chandru, an emergency medicine specialist at Westmead, Auburn and Nepean hospitals.
In the story, Dr Chandru is having a conversation with a COVID patient and informing him that he will be put on a ventilator.
When the patient asked him what that will be like, Dr Chandru told him that it would be like a dream.
“The patient doesn’t reply at all to him, he simply stares at the wall and asks him to put a wallpaper in there,” Ms Roy said.
“But a human being having to say that to another human being, it’s very profound, it’s very touching and moving.
“And the fact is that, in that situation, we empathise with both the doctor as well as the patient, which is a perspective that we don’t usually think about.”
“We wanted the book to be multicultural so that it reflects the community in Blacktown, Sydney, as well as the greater Australian community,” – Emie Roy
Heroes and heroines
Ms Roy worked with Blacktown City Libraries to put the book together and also contacted migrant organisation Community Migrant Resource Centre.
“We wanted the book to be multicultural so that it reflects the community in Blacktown, Sydney, as well as the greater Australian community,” she said.
Each story in the book is unique but there are some common themes, such as struggles with work, unemployment and taking up new hobbies.
“A lot of common themes were there, but everyone’s experience was different because their lives are different and their circumstances are different.”
She has been encouraged by all the people who shared their stories.
“I see everybody that has written in this book as heroes and heroines… because all of these people have gone through this, they have coped and they have survived; so they are now here to tell their story.”