It could never be me.
That’s what we think when we hear about the coronavirus right? At least for some people.
It could simply be our hopeful thinking or maybe, just our naivety onto how the universe really works. Evil and tragic events seem so far stretched. Of course no one wants to contract a deadly virus, we simply think ‘those things don’t happen to people like me’ until they actually do.
We very well know that as a country, we are NOT prepared at all to deal with the coronavirus. As a coping mechanism, Kenyans, being helpless most times, do what they do best; get to social media and rant on twitter, complain about the government and make memes like we always do during all kind of tragedies.
I can’t speak for the government or the Kenyans. But I can speak for my people, ‘the anxious society of Kenya’ (don’t google it, it doesn’t exactly exist). So, since the start of the virus, my mother has woken me up severally in my sleep, as early as 4 a.m. in the morning so that I can listen to an audio, a video or a WhatsApp message about the Corona virus. A few times, the messages had claims that the virus was already in our country but the patients are being treated discreetly (This was before the first case was reported). Struggling to keep my eyes open enough to read the blurry messages, my mother says with a finality, ‘Cancel all your meetings. All the events you were to go to. You can’t risk it.’
‘Ma…’ I start to object but she immediately interrupts me with how much we are underestimating this virus and how we think ‘it can never be us’. Her tone is really high for morning. You can hear the panic in her voice; alarming, and the utmost frustration in her voice because we still want to go to work despite the ‘danger’. I try to calm her down, recommending her to take a break from Whatsapp because it is, very evidently, hyping up her anxiety.
I am familiar with anxiety because I am my mother’s daughter. But whereas I am 98% anxiety, hers is double that. While I advise her on how to filter the information she receives on the virus, I am texting my friends who are travelling or about to travel, asking again and again if they think it is safe enough to travel at this time, whether they are taking the necessary precautions and if they said their prayers for protection.
Someone out there is walking to their airplane seat, while a panic attack surfaces because now, ‘I am not only scared of a turbulence, I am scared of breathing.’ Another is contemplating on how to humbly reject the hand shake from that very important client who has just flown in from Finland because, ‘Oh my God, do I even know in which continent Finland is? How can I be sure this handshake is indeed safe? Is this million dollar deal worth the handshake?’ Another is at the airport to pick their relative coming in from Middle East and the thought is, ‘Would they be offended if I refused to hug them?’
It is a crazy time to be alive let alone be moving around. 2020 came in with a huge wave, full of tragedies.
Well, it’s just March and we all want to know; who pissed off 2020 like this?!!
I mean, even pilgrimage to Makkah by Muslims has been paused for now. That is something that will definitely go down in the books of history because throughout my entire short life I never heard of Makkah rejecting pilgrims apart from the times the place was too crowded to accommodate everyone. As it is, masajids are being closed temporarily and Jum3ah prayers are cancelled. Makkah prayers are being led with very few ma’mumas. The thought that Ramadhan might arrive on us while still handling the virus is so heartbreaking 🙁 Imagine a Ramadhan with no taraweh or tahajjud prayers. Imagine having no spiritual gatherings and iftaar for the entire month!! Everything seems to be at a standstill. Olympics might be cancelled!! Several other sporting events have already been cancelled or postponed. The global economy is being greatly affected. Traveling is now an extreme sport, yet the very low ticket prices seem to be so tempting. The best yet riskiest time to travel, aye? Some people are actually doing it! Others are rejoicing in their PJ’s as they work from home while students enjoy having classes being cancelled for about an entire month!
Nonetheless, as every day passes, we realize how real this pandemic is.
Yet, have you ever thought of how much rougher it is for the Asians right now, ALL OVER THE WORLD? They not only have to deal with the virus but also with the stigma and racism due to the origin of the virus. The dilemma is; how do we protect ourselves without seeming racist? Where do we draw the line between seeking protection and being out-rightly racist?! (Something to ponder on)
When the year began and everyone was frantic about it, one of my lecturers studying in China sent us a video to assure us that she was safe and far from the affected areas and that the main limitation was having to stay indoors and everything being done online at the moment. This could be very well a horror movie, only it is real life. Pretty much like ‘The Bird Box’ only this time, the mask is on our noses/mouths instead of eyes. ‘If you touch it, you die.’
While the whole world is panic buying masks, toilet papers and sanitizers, we too as Kenyans have joined the bandwagon. But other than that, we are investing our time into our greatest talent; making memes!! Here are some memes sourced from: https://eaglenewskenya.com/
Best of all, is this video clip of the shortest horror movie! (Not made in Kenya)
The other day I was in a public vehicle and had a scratch in my throat. I had the urge to cough but I could visualize how heads would turn towards me if I did. And the horror that would strike them after that. To cut the long story, I did not cough. And now with us Kenyans, we don’t even know how we will survive. In some areas there is lack of water, the matatus are usually filled to the brim, many Kenyans live in slums or very close neighbourhoods. We can’t afford to work from home because majority of Kenyans are casual labourers and need to go to their work places. We have so many people who are vulnerable and at high risk of contracting the virus if it keeps spreading.
I imagine all the people living in the affected areas, having to live with only what they have. I imagine those in quarantine. Those who are separated from their loved ones during this phase; maybe forever. The people working in transport industries, airports, the bus/air crew, the really crowded areas like immigration offices. The people working in markets or using public transport or dealing with many people every day and most importantly, our doctors. In short, everyone. It could be us.
We pray that this tragedy ends soon and that we stay protected because for us Kenyans really, it is only God who can help us.
Parting Note: Pray. Pray for the whole world. That this epidemic ends soonest. That 2020 becomes a better year for all of us. Show love to all the doctors, nurses and medics working so hard to contain this virus and who continue to work everyday despite being at higher risk; pray for them too! Wash your hands. Protect yourselves. Don’t panic-buy; think of others. Watch the news from reliable sources. Don’t believe everything you hear until you confirm. Don’t forward messages until you confirm. Don’t be part of the panic perpetrators. Don’t be racist. Reach out to ensure your loved ones are safe. Be grateful for being alive. Avoid crowded areas, don’t be a hero. Stay safe people!
P.N 2: Duas for you because I honestly care:
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