The virus, confusion and hope

Family portrait
Sudip with award
Mayor's letter of award

I am a former refugee from Bhutan and my family own a liquor store named [name redacted] Liquor and Wine in Fort Worth, Texas since early 2015.

When the pandemic hit the United States and in particular in the mid[dle] of March, I decided to close my family business for the sake and safety of everyone – in particular those of us owning and operating it, and the customers. That was painful. As much as I was worried for a huge loss in business, I was equally concerned about the safety of everyone involved.

There was this barrage of mix-information floating around on the internet and social media – and it was hard to separate facts from fictions initially during the pandemic. There was a lot of confusions. My full-time job at a local refugee resettlement agency moved virtual, where my role has to do with administrative work in relation to imparting English as a Second Language (ESL) to newly arrived refugees/SIVs from across the world. I have this full-time job for a long time now.

When the pandemic has started to hit hard here in the U.S., I missed the fact that I did not get to provide services to these refugees, through my full-time work, in the same scale I used to during a normal time. Keeping in mind the refugee population I was providing services and other customer at the liquor store, I started doing my own independent research and found that the virus was more lethal than anticipated. Soon I realized a lot of the information was unclear because Wuhan, China, where the virus first found its home was not forthcoming. Let me be honest here --- I was very scared!

After four weeks of straight closing of my family-owned business, we decided to re-open only to realize that we’ve lost our regular customers. We no longer see the customers we had seen for years. I still miss them today! On a flip-side, when we were closed I had the opportunity to spend my quality time with my family (my 85 year mother, two children and wife) – and guess what? I felt like I had never given enough time to my family!

While my business was closed for four weeks, and that my regular work functioning remotely, it gave me ample opportunities to realize the importance of a “family life” – to a point where I realized I hadn’t given as much time to my family as I needed to.

I know for the fact that while we closed our liquor business for four week beginning mid-March 2020, we lost a lot of customers; Yet I am happy we’ve survived the pandemic! I am sorry that many lives have been lost (over three hundred thousand just in U.S.) already, but I am excited to be part of many community endeavors that try to make positive differences in the lives of people.

In the midst of Pandemic, a Dallas based law firm awarded me with "2020 Immigrants Journey Award " which made my 2020 more special and hopeful.

This story is part of a Refugee Communities collection.