“When are you coming home?” was what my parents started every call with. Schools had been closed down due to COVID-19 and students in the hostels asked to leave immediately. I lived off campus and since there was no one to send me away as long as my rent had not expired, I stayed.
It was not like I didn’t want to go home, I just feared I would be less productive if I went. I had some projects to complete. I managed to convince my parents – “Yes, I’ll stay in my apartment”; “I just bought hand wash and disinfectant”; “Visitors? No”; “Yes, I have enough foodstuff” – and they called everyday to check up on me.
Except to fetch and buy water, I didn’t leave my room until one evening. I had taken a break from an assignment I had to submit that night and was about to settle down to a plate of rice and dried fish stew when a wave of fear suddenly hit me and it became harder to breathe. I knew staying inside wouldn’t cut it, so I grabbed my keys and even though it was about 30 minutes before the curfew, I started on a walk. Something must kill a man, no?
The cool evening air blew against my skin as I walked and I felt more at ease with each step. I was planning to turn back when someone suddenly held my hand like you would if you were greeting a friend and that was why it was surprising that the person didn’t turn to at least show her face. The fear returned, this time understandable. Oh God! My health had been compromised!
I rushed home, washed my hand severally with and had a steam bath with ginger infused water like I read some days before. Then, I ate my cold food and slept without touching my assignment.
An irritation in my throat woke me the next morning and I couldn’t stop coughing. Even though I have had a recurrent cough for a while, I was convinced it was Covid-19. The tiredness I felt also reinforced the thoughts. I made a cough drop with the lemon and honey my mum insisted I bought and tried to sleep off the tiredness but I only felt more tired. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was too scared to eat or that the sleep was fitful. I kept counting how long I could hold my breath and it was satisfactory every time but I was still scared.
That evening before I slept, I wrote down the list of people I owed, removed the password from my phone and laptop, wrote down the password to my ATM card and my cowrywise account, and apologized to those I thought I had offended. If I was going to die, I might as well make things right.
It was a pleasant surprise when I woke up the next morning, refreshed and perfectly fine. I understood it didn’t mean I was Covid-19 free but at least, the symptoms were gone. I picked up my list and tore out my passwords. My mind was clearer and I realized being scared of the unknown wouldn’t make it go away, it is crippling and would prevent you from thinking clearly.