COVID-19 is real; that I’m certain of. I’ve heard so many conspiracy theories I’m convinced these movies have done so much damage. I’ve heard the 5G tale, the World War 3 “without a single gunshot” tale (my favorite), the Chinese takeover tale, the chemical weapon tale and a few more. I must admit that these tales come with a fancy ring; imagine telling my grand-kids I lived through the years China killed the entire world with an engineered virus. Picture this: an old David Grey sitting at the dining table, with tiny eyes peering at him. A baritone grips the room:
“It was 2020, and I was a young 20-year-old in the now broken state of Nigeria. That was supposed to be the year I bought my first car, but something bigger than all of humanity was on its way. It was the Wuhan Killer Virus.
“Yes, Wuhan. Wuhan, that tiny town of destruction.” Hesitation for dramatic effect. “The virus struck for the first time in January, and went on to kill thousands of humans across the world.”
“But Grandpa, how did you survive?”
A sigh. A brief pause to show reflection.
“It wasn’t easy. Humans turned on humans. The world that we knew became a war-zone. With my bag strapped to my back, a revolver and sanitizer in my trousers, I walked the empty streets with a mask over my face. I fought for food, and fast internet; my nights were dark and dangerous. If you stared hard at night, you could see the virus dancing in the night’s air.”
Boy, it gives me the creeps already. I crave the looks on their faces, the attention, and the question afterwards.
The reality of COVID-19 scares me; it involves me avoiding news on the subject, or even discussions surrounding it. I have become so fearful of the subject that the word coronavirus turns my stomach out. But it is almost impossible to avoid it; every update on my WhatsApp has a reference to it, every pastor is holding a COVID-themed online prayer meeting, every comedy skit has been subtly or majorly influenced by the virus.
It has me — all of us, actually — cornered. Like a rat you caught in your room.
The past few months have been mentally exhausting. It exhausts me to even think about it. Deaths in thousands. Healthcare workers risking their lives everyday. Crumbling economies. Countries in lockdown. Humans in isolation. Plus clients who think this is a good time to write about how the virus affects one country bar in Adelaide, Australia (who reads these things anyway?). I have thought of a post-apocalyptic world more times this year than I have in my entire life. It scares me, and I know it scares you too. With this or that, Kubool, tiktok, I know a part of you breaks in fear when your mind wanders that far.
We can only hope it doesn’t get that bad before a vaccine.
I hate to be the fake-deep, but this period has pushed me to reflect on so many subjects. Life. Death. People. Relationships. Love. It saddens me to see how much of ourselves we have lost as humans. How distant we have all become. We hide behind anonymous messages to craft stories, tell tales, and throw degrading remarks. We make jokes about sensitive subjects just to have a good laugh. We suddenly realize that the person we know so much is somebody else. We have pushed friends away. Created online personalities to mask pain and depression. It has become a game, and I don’t do so well with games.
Thanks to COVID-19, the ephemeralness of life slaps harder; it brings to mind that perfect poem of Ben Jonson:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night –
It was the plant and flower of Light.
Death has been trivialized into numbers so cramped that it scares me to have a sore throat. The speedy transmission of the virus. The overwhelmed hospitals. Insufficient ventilators. All of these have caused the death of 81,200 humans across the world.
This. Scares. Me.
But in spite of this fear, I have learned one truth: appreciating the people I love. Perhaps this is all a ploy by nature to teach us how to love again (Too expensive a ploy by the way). How to live for one another. Spending the last few days with my brothers have gone to show how much I have missed while I stayed in Ibadan and made myself into an Ibadan boy while also keeping a diary of the same title. We have missed so much, let so many people go, destroyed so many great friendships. This isn’t the time to go back and try reconciling (I denounce everyone who decides to do this). It is rather the time to pause and appreciate. Every sibling. Parent. Friend. Classmate. Lover. Cousin. Nephew. Niece. Wife. Daughter. Son. Every breath. New day. Sunshine. Water against your skin. Food.
This is the time to take a pause to appreciate that perfect moment with friends and family.
Let people know you love them; you might not be this lucky again.
This period has to mean something; you have to look back at all these weeks — or months — and smile in satisfaction.
Wash your hands. Stay at home. Stay safe.