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During the Covid-19 pandemic, Andi is forced to move back in with their family. There, they find within themselves an unexpected hope and clarity emerging from uncertainty.

用简体中文阅读这篇漫画 (Simplied Chinese)

用繁體中文閱讀這篇漫畫 (Traditional Chinese)

Click the expansion arrow to open this slideshow in full-window view. The panels in the English-language comics have a descriptive caption for screenreaders.

Panel 1

Andi sits in their room. Everything is packed into boxes. They are on their phone.

Narration: “I was an essential worker during the pandemic, working in drug and alcohol addictions. My flatmates complained that I was putting them ‘at risk’, so I decided to move out.

“After finding no affordable rental housing in Auckland, I ended up moving back home with my family.”

We see screenshots of Andi’s phone. They’re messaging her Dad.

“Dad, I’m packed, ready to be picked up.”

Andi’s father: “Wish I could help u move! Call me tonight!”

Panel 2

“20 minutes later.” The moving truck pulls up outside Andi’s home.

Panel 3

Andi’s dad offers to help with the boxes.

“I can take that, Andi,” he says.

“It’s ok, I can carry it,” Andi replies.

Panel 4

A close-up of a shop window. The signs says it’s called Dumpling House. There’s a ‘Closed’ sign in the window and a poster that says ‘Masks required’.

Narration: “The drive down Dominion Rd was bleak.”

Panel 5

The two are chatting, en route.

“It’s good you’re moving back, no need to pay for rent. Your mum is making your favourite noodles,”  says Andi’s dad.

“Dandan noodles?” Andi asks.

Panel 6

Another shop with a ‘Closed’ sign in the window.

Narration: “My dad, always helping with the practical things. My mum, making sure I eat well. They never say it, but I know they care.”

Panel 1

Andi arrives home. Their sister, Katie, greets her outside with arms wide open.

Narration: “I hadn’t seen my family in person for months.”

Panel 2

Everyone grabs a box to take into the house.

“What’s in this? It’s heavy!” asks Katie.

“Oh yeah, that’s my art supplies, do you need some help?” Andi asks.

“Katie, take a lighter one,” Dad says.

Panel 3

Andi washes their hands in the sink.

“Dinner’s ready!” comes from out of the room.

Panels 4 and 5

Andi and their parents eat dinner at the table. Katie is eating theirs on the couch, watching a news bulletin featuring Ashley Bloomfield.

News bulletin: “Four new cases in the community today, no reported deaths. Auckland will remain in Alert Level 3.”

Andi’s mum, to Andi: “Long time you haven’t talked to Grandma. We call her tonight.”

Panel 6

Andi and their grandmother, pictured together.

Narration: “My maternal grandma lives alone in Kuala Lumpur. I visited her last year, just before the pandemic, for her 93rd birthday.

“We couldn’t bring her over because of New Zealand’s immigration rules for family reunification, so we try to visit her each year.”

Panels 1–6

Andi is in their room, unpacking. They place books on their large bookshelf; they open boxes of clothing. Katie leans against the door frame, on her phone.

Katie, on her phone: “Did you see that SAT [Subtle Asian Traits] changed their policy against political posts for Black Lives Matter?”

Andi: “Oh yeah, I did. Have you seen the comments about Hong Kong and Uyghur concentration camps after they did that? So many Wumao [“50 cents” – internet commentators who may or may not be paid to spread pro-CCP propaganda]. At least it’s not just a bubble tea appreciation club anymore.”

Katie: “Yeah, totally. I like seeing Asian Americans organising around anti-Asian racism too. I loved the Asian American feminist zine you sent me! So much of the wisdom from queer and trans disability justice activists is so relevant to us here and now.”

Andi: “You should make one for here!”

Katie: “It’s hard to talk about, though. With everything that’s been happening in the US and anti-Black police violence. How do we talk about the anti-Asian stuff without taking away from the urgency of anti-Black of anti-Māori racism here?

“I’ve been watching some webinars from the US on how they’ve been dealing with it. They have a long history of Asian-American organising, and there are similar histories of anti-Chinese immmigration laws like the poll tax here.

“None of this is really new. In the late 1800s during the smallpox epidemic, the residents of San Francisco Chinatown were also blamed and scapegoated for the disease.”

Andi: “You were probably too young to remember, but during the SARS outbreak, that happened too. But it’s like, every time ‘Middle New Zealand’ reacts with shock and surprise when, like, it’s always been there in both overt and covert ways.”

Andi’s Mum, calling from outside the room: “Andi, Katie! Come here, your grandma is on the call.”

Panel 1

Andi’s grandmother’s face is seen on the phone. She smiles.

“Andi and Katie are here. You two, come say hi,” Andi’s mum says.

“Popo hi! How are you? How are things in Kuala Lumpur,” asks Andi.

“Andi yah, you moved back home now? I just stay inside, don’t go anywhere. I still do calligraphy you taught me, watch TV, your uncle drops food to me,” Grandma replies.

“You’re doing calligraphy?!” Andi says. “Can we see it?”

Panel 2

A close-up of Grandma’s calligraphy. It’s “fu”, for good fortune.

Panel 3

A close-up of Andi, Andi’s mum, and Katie; it’s what Andi’s grandmother would see on her phone.

Andi: “Wah, that’s beautiful! So happy you’re still doing it!”

Katie: “So cool, Popo!”

Mum: “Popo’s calligraphy is really good! You should practice more too, Andi.”

Grandma: “Don’t worry about me, I’m okay.”

Panel 4

Narration: “Every time we call Popo, we use our limited Chinese to talk to her for a few minutes, then my mum will have a long gossip session about our relatives. So I just leave them be.”

Andi’s phone, in their pocket, receives a notification. “How was the move?” a text messages reads.

Panels 1–4

Andi’s in their room, sitting on their bed. They is on their phone, video-chatting with a friend.

Narration: “My best friend Lani has really been a rock for me over this time, you know, one of those friends that is more like family. We’ve been checking in on each other every day since the pandemic.

“We would send each other waiata to lift up our spirits... our favourite is ‘Tiaho mai rā’.”

Andi: “Malō Lani! I thought I’d just call, it’s been a hectic day. How are you?”

Lani: “I’m doing my best, but always some family dramas now that everyone is working from home. How was the move though?

“Oi, I’m glad you finally got out, your flatmates were rude as. I saw your tweets, definitely some underlying racism there.”

Andi: “Oh, I know, I wish they were more upfront about it than just being pass-agg. I’m back and it’s all good... Still unpacking my things. I just had a call with my grandma – she’s doing okay. I’m so happy she’s still doing calligraphy! She was a bit resistant when I first tried to teach her haha!”

Lani: “Oh wow, love it!”

Andi is now lying on her bed, smiling as they talk to Lani.

Andi: “You know, if my grandma can find some beauty in this time, maybe this is a sign that things are going to be okay. I just hope we can learn and not just ‘go back to normal’. We have an opportunity here to make the world better, you know. As Arundhati Roy said, ‘the pandemic is a portal’.”

Narration: “There is still beauty in this time. In these relationships of care, we find ways through digital connection even when we cannot be physically together. This might be what will carry us through.”