Part four of the photo-documentary “Life in the Quarantine” features the Ezughas of Edmond.

Ben and Mandi Ezugha are parents of 2-year-old twin girls, Sia and Zara. Ben is a graphic designer. Mandi is a retail buyer whose job normally involves regular international travel.

The Ezughas were early adopters to shelter-in-place practices because, as Ben says, “we believe in science.”

Ben Ezugha, 35, Edmond

(Interviewed May 9)

During this time of uncertainty and isolation, my wife Mandi and I gain solace through our downtime. The moments of quietness and calm. We often spend it being by each other in silence to counterbalance the action and life bouncing off the walls that come with having identical twin girls weeks from their third birthday. Browsing through our newsfeeds. Eating dinner together. Netflix.

We catch up and talk at day’s end. Trade memes and Tiktoks for our amusement. Sometimes, silence and close presence can suffice after a long day. Every night, tidying up after the girls are put to bed gives us a sense of normalcy (only to watch the girls tear everything apart after waking up). 

I’m a clean-the-playroom-once-a-week parent. Mandi is a clean-the-playroom-every-night parent. I asked her why she likes to do it so frequently. She responded; “because they have fun playing and making a mess.” I know she is a person of order, so I don’t fight her on this. “Everything has its place” and “clean house vibes” are mantras she commonly says and lives by.

Being quarantined without childcare has been an adjustment, to say the least. The balance between structured activities and free play has been a delicate one —especially when you’re running out of ideas (those 30-minute Cocomelon nursery song compilations on Youtube come through for ya boy). It has been a unique experience to see their minds develop in real-time, but with the broadening of their awareness of the world around them also comes the forceful pushing of boundaries. Especially during the full swing of the terrible 2s. They’re like the Sour Patch Kids commercials, sour one second, sweet the next. Two things can both be true at the same time: We love them dearly. And they are pieces of work. 

We believe in science so we’ve been on guard since the middle of March. Limiting our trips into the public whenever absolutely necessary. Our masks are on during grocery store runs and drive-through windows. We also adhere to quarantine recommendations and social distancing orders whenever applicable (even as Edmond/OKC seems to continue on like a potentially deadly virus isn’t out here in these streets). The hardest part of all this is knowing that our kids need other kids to play and grow with independent of us. Trying to explain to a two-year-old —who clearly sees kids playing in the neighborhood playground— why they can’t play is difficult. But hey, my kids ain’t getting the ‘rona. Damn that.

Dany Varghese is a freelance photographer in Oklahoma City. His photo-documentary series “Life In Quarantine” expands on the project launched on his Facebook page Dany Varghese Photography. Contact him at dany.varghese12@gmail.com.

The Coronavirus Storytelling Project is a collaboration between the Oklahoma-based Inasmuch Foundation, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Watch to help state journalists who have been furloughed or displaced as well as those in struggling community news organizations. The Inasmuch Foundation has pledged $50,000 to launch the project and provide five $500 grants to those accepted into the project each week for the next four months. Apply here. Stories and photos are available for republication with appropriate credits. To republish, contact Mike Sherman at msherman@oklahomawatch.org.


Support our publication

Every day we strive to produce journalism that matters — stories that strengthen accountability and transparency, provide value and resonate with readers like you.

This work is essential to a better-informed community and a healthy democracy. But it isn’t possible without your support.