20 May Chronicles of a Corona Virus Survivor
By Julie Mulongo
It’s the 213th day since it hit my country, a country I fled to a few years ago in search of greener pastures. Just when everything started feeling right, you know ‘foreign dishes tastes homely, foreign language turns familiar, strange crowds feel accommodating, difficult streets no longer draining… that’s when the pandemic fell and gradually took over the whole world
We saw it in the news in a far-away country. It didn’t raise an alarm. I mean how many times do we see floods and tsunami cases on the news and continue with life, that’s how majority of us viewed it. We went to work as usual, went partying and park-walking, flying in and out of the country, trips and hikes.
Soon everyone started falling sick, not necessarily coughs, nah just ‘a little headache here and a little fever there. But still people presumed it to be normal common cold and turned to the usual medicines claiming superpower countries are only magnifying it to scare us to death. A few people tried sensitizing us on the deadliness of the situation, but who could stay indoor and waste money on panic purchase when bills needed to be paid, deadlines to be met, products to be made, schools to complete and life to live.
I wasn’t arrogant per say, but ‘ scared‘. Afraid that the end was here and I wasn’t ready. I received calls to go back home, but my country had it’s borders locked down with the airports not receiving guests. So many times I wished I’d gone home before it got worse, but to me going home meant I was ready ‘but I wasn’t ready yet’. Who is ready to die at late 20’s? Soon deaths rose, from top politicians to street beggars to paupers and youths and children, schools closed down, churches were locked, mosques no longer attended, hospitals crowded, and media…well that too crumpled to the ground. Newscasters fell ill, others died others escaped to other countries. There was no avenue of hope or legality.
And just like media,internet died cutting communications, electricity broke down but we still had backups, water pipes unattended for a long time got polluted.I had sanitizers, a mask, dozen gloves and a few supplies, still went to work interacted with people, then got a mail from friends from home. Guys from my country not necessarily from the same town or region but out here felt like homies. They had a deal of smuggling us back into our country unnoticed, a country that was halfway smitten by the virus, we had to pay a handsome amount of money ‘you know how hard it is to come by handsomeness?. But if I could break my saving pot I was good to go, never knew how desperate I was to go back.
My boss succumbed to it, colleagues and a few people I knew started showing signs, some hid it but I noticed somehow. I distanced myself, called the ‘homies’ all excited for the updates that the plane was ready. I couldn’t find sleep that night. i thought it was anxiety+insomnia, but the headache was disturbing. I slept late woke up late, I justified myself. Sometime in the afternoon I woke up packed a few clothes, gloves and masks.I had a tendency of forgetting essentials so early preparation was efficient. Then satisfied,dashed to the meeting point where we were supposed to deposit the money prior to the next afternoon’s takeoff. With the money safely stuffed inside them gloves earphones on, I chose to stop by the communications tower to call home. Not to inform them I was going, because that would sell us all out. Just to hear from them. I had promised to reach out once in a while.That’s when the coughs started, headaches and temperatures started rising.I tried pushing the feeling away, inwardly reciting how fine I was, reminding myself all the cautions I’d observed. Unknowingly I was already in the deserted tower. I couldn’t turn back, I took the most dreadest choice call home and pretend to be alright. The call was emotional and sweet and brief, they kept asking if I felt exhausted or had headaches or joint aches or sore throat high temperatures.
It ended with stay safe, and if you find a way please come home, we’re all fine and healthy here.It took a whole lifetime for me to re-place the phone back on it’s hanger. For a moment I pictured my short painful and regretful death in my grey-walled room and beige pink sheets. I noticed this tall guy waiting on the other side of the road.I wished we were friends, perhaps then he could hug me and assure me things will be fine and perhaps i wouldn’t die alone. Before I could spread it,I left the tower, head high, composed posture, strides calculated. I didn’t know anything else, all that ran in my head was ‘ you’re dead’. Isn’t that what awaits everyone? At that moment, I chose to die alone, the plane can leave me behind ‘i wasn’t ready to kill people because of selfishness, with a smile on my face I waved at guy. “Hey there, the place is free now, make sure you sanitize that phone before using though…” and off I scampered away. I didn’t have a specific place to go but two places my whole being refused to acknowledge was my house and the ‘meeting point’.
I could go walk in the park, watch the birds fly around and even feed them with a few grains, scream in the empty streets, go swim ‘float’ down the river, pose with statutes in the city centre, mourn the long gone at the cemetery and have a sit down with God at the ancient church now deserted. How my life turned interesting at the end of it, by evening I was well spent. I half walked half dragged my aching dripping body home, and just before I crossed the road few blocks to my house I saw him (Mr Very Tall guy). I wasn’t in good shape. The sight of him got me standing upright and staring ‘how could anyone be this tall, you see I wasn’t short, no way.
I noticed he had glasses on ‘yeah how can you see what’s happening here on earth with that height? I shamelessly thought. He spoke, his voice was well ‘normal’ for a person his height, though a little shout could really help. He came close enough then said “hey stranger, allow me say this ‘all my life I’d never walked on streets for the fear of my height and people staring’ so all my life I’ve never had someone look at me the way you did and funnily wave reminding me of safety with concern in their eyes…”aha! I had to hear this now? A few days to the end of my existence? What concern look is he even talking about, that wasn’t concern that was shock and wonder.I don’t blame him, I’d see my own things while up there. I noticed his broken lower front tooth ‘aah effect of eating a lot of carrot growing up. Never really saw the importance till now. It seems am not supposed to die without implementing things…it ain’t that bad right?
A week and half later I felt it, I was at peace with what was coming, had grown accustomed to my boiling body, but wasn’t prepared for the difficulty in breathing.I took a piece of paper and wrote my name, my country, occupation, favorite color, all the people I knew and remembered, a few books I read, places I’d been to, hearts I’d crossed and broken, foods I enjoyed or is it missed, accomplishments and failures…and at the end of it I wrote ‘this is it’. But it wasn’t I still had Covid survivor’s contact, it couldn’t kill saying hi would it, maybe I’d hear his voice up close? Picked up my phone, dialed the name but before I could press call breath slowly left….but this feels familiar than strange, I’m supposed to be floating on clouds right? Or perhaps plunged in darkness but nah this feels normal, me seeing myself at home ‘running after a chicken, that is so determined to save it’s life and when I dived for it…bam! My eyes opened’ it was a dream after all, and I was Alive this realization hit my now alert self hard. I sat up and hugged myself ‘the only closer person in the room. Checking the date on my almost dead phone it’s two days later. I had another chance with life.A chance to go back home, a chance to practice my career, a chance to start a family, a chance to retry things I failed and try new ones…I craved for water
☑️ Covid-19 is real
☑️To prevent spread of Covid-19, social distancing is required
☑️ Covid-19 doesn’t necessarily kill
Disclaimer; the story is purely fiction, those are not necessarily Covid-19 symptoms