We are in a season that feels like maji imezidi unga. This third wave makes the COVID-19 of last year feel like a dry run. This version is lethal. We are losing good folks at an alarming rate. And what makes it grimmer is the sharp increase of folks that we know personally who are leaving us. I dread to check my Facebook page because of all the loss folks have posted on their walls. It is overwhelming.
The other week our president placed us Nairobians under yet another lockdown together with our neighbors Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu, and Nakuru. We seem to be the most stubborn of his electorate to govern. We are in the red zone meaning the third wave is causing the most havoc in these five counties. However, to our defense, your excellency, maintaining the balance between no movement and feeding our families seems almost impossible. It would be easier if our obligations (read bills) would socially distance from us too. Then we might be more compliant.
My nyama supplier sent a rider home the other day to deliver meat. As I met the boda guy at my gate I asked him if he was observing the covid protocols as he went about his business. He answered in the affirmative but dismissed the stay at home as a luxury very few can afford. I inquired how so. He responded that if corona won’t take him out then hunger will. We all have to make a choice based on our circumstances.
We are afraid of this invisible monster that seems not to be in a hurry to go away. Just when we seem to get on top of it it mutates into another form. Never has there been a time (at least in my existence) when the human spirit has been tested this much to remain hopeful and resilient. A day at a time may be the best formula to live by currently. I recently called a dear friend to check up on him. I asked him why he was talking funny and he told me he was at the Agakhan hospital (had been for two weeks) and on oxygen. I was scared because I wouldn’t want to lose him. He’s one of those mzees I look up to for guidance as I chart my path to a life of significance. One of my destiny helpers.
During our brief phone chat from his hospital bed, he was surprisingly upbeat and his sense of humor clearly did not need any oxygen to thrive. I was curious to find out how he was feeling now that he was immobile from the busy life he’s used (almost addicted) to. He responded that he’s moved from planning weeks ahead to wondering how he’ll get through the next five minutes. That’s an even shorter version of a day at a time to five minutes at a time. I wished him well and said a prayer of healing after hanging up.
So, what do you do when you are in a battle that has no signs of ending? Lying low by following the COVID-19 protocols is a good strategy but for how long we wonder. Random calls like the one I had with my mzee pal shed some hope for me. That life is still worth celebrating even when under the threat of being taken away. Nenia Campbell said that “we feel most alive when we are closest to death”. I agree but I wonder if she would still say that now. Life is tough at so many levels but we cannot give up as long as we have breath in us. Corona has shown us that we have little control over the future. The need to maximize our present moments has been amplified significantly. Now is all we have. Right now is the only guarantee.
We are not out of the woods yet as our health cabinet secretary often reminds us through his updates on TV. But even in the woods, we can find something to be grateful for. It could be worse. That’s a reminder I use frequently whenever I’m going through tough times. Speaking of being in the woods, I visited Karura for a walk (and hoping for some bird photography too) last Saturday. The four-day Easter period under lockdown felt like eight days. So much time at our disposal.
Karura was dark. It was a good image of the darkness humanity is currently experiencing. But in those woods were cool refreshing streams that soothed my soul. The rays of the sun that broke through the tall tree canopies warmed my face and shed sufficient light for the steps ahead. I would meet fellow nature lovers chatting animatedly as they walked or rode their bikes. Others were enjoying the serenity of the woods solo and I’m sure getting some relief from all the gloom and doom in the world today. Karura was like a phone charger. I left recharged to keep hope alive. We can say it was a positively dark afternoon in the forest he he.
It might be dark. It is dark folks. But the light will shine through somehow. Let’s keep hope alive and maximize the present moment. This too shall pass; the good book tells us.