LOS ANGELES — What would have been the first trip home as a newlywed couple had to be canceled at the last minute.
Tejaswini Attrey and Sidhant Sood were wed in India. Family surrounded them during the ceremony in 2019. But, months later, a novel virus changed the world forever, and so they haven't seen their family in almost two years.
They've tried and failed more than once to find a safe time between pandemic waves to travel. They canceled their latest trip less than 24 hours in advance, hoping against hope something would change.
However, conditions have only worsened.
Multiple states in India will go into complete lockdown as a second wave of infections paralyzes the world's second-most populous country. The U.S. State Department recently warned travelers not to travel to India due to COVID-19.
Waiting leaves Sood feeling helpless.
"We're missing their happy occasions, their sad occasions and just not being able to be part of your family in the good and bad times is really bad," Sood said.
Some of their relatives have been sickened and even died from COVID-19. In these dark times, it's that much harder not to hug and comfort one another.
"We're just not able to be with them when they need us the most," Sidhant said.
Instead of spending the three weeks of hard-earned time off with family, they're using it to unpack suitcases full of clothes and gifts.
The painful truth is there's no telling when they'll travel home.