Hour after hour in the dark, Chander Shekhar’s mind raced ahead to morning.
More than three months had dragged by since the coronavirus forced him to shut down his business — a shop racked with vibrantly colored saris, on a block in New York’s Jackson Heights neighborhood once thronged with South Asian immigrant shoppers. Today, finally, merchants were allowed to reopen their doors.
But they were returning to an area where COVID-19 had killed hundreds, leaving sidewalks desolate and storefronts to gather dust. Overnight, the uncertainties of reopening had woken Shekhar nine times.
“This is an invisible enemy that nobody can see,” said Shekhar, who is anxious about the $6,000 monthly rent at his store, Shopno Fashion. “I have worked hard for this for more than 20 years, then I got my shop. It’s not easy to leave it.”
The pandemic’s toll leaves Shekhar reluctant to complain, and he knows