The Year From Hell
By Priscilla Kona
The Covid 19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time: amidst my retrenchment challenge of December 2019. However, a chance suggestion from the Writers’ Guild of Kenya face book page would here after change my fortunes and soften my landing as the virus from hell made landfall.
After two months of literary studies at the Strathmore University, and united in grief with many others wary of the imminent arrival of the corona virus, we left the city, each to their own rural home.
Schools had closed and with no end in sight due to the rising infections, I chose to stay at home, my children’s welfare paramount to all else. Why? Because the pandemic presented an unprecedented risk to their well-being. And like the myriad of salaried workers whose necks were already on the chopping board, the pandemic threatened to plunge us all headlong into an economic abyss. How would I still excel as a provider in such a milieu, single parent that I was? Would my family be eventually crushed by the Covid 19 roller coaster now scaring the wits out of every soul?
I marshalled my will power. I would consider the go- to voice of limitless power. And for two weeks, as the pandemic stung the planet like a thorn, I prayed daily:
“Though my bank account yawn like a chasm, though my recovery take a long time, yet would I believe You’’ I interceded like many others, a helpless victims of a world going mad.
And a month later I receive a message:
”How much will you take for your smaller second hand car?” Whether it was my nephew‘s sacrificial decision or answered prayer I will never know. And survived the holocaust, or did I?
At 5:00 pm every morning, my 14 year old girl is up. She makes for the uniform cupboard and freezes midstream. Her grief at loss of school routine is unbridled.
‘’Mum, when are schools opening?” her face is grey with anxiety.
I keep a hold of my anxious self, my parental concern elsewhere; the blood chilling teenage pregnancy statistics now raging. Again I must develop a consistent daily schedule featuring academics, homework , bible study, play and screen time. Her friends are all in lockdown in their homes. She appears anxious, worried, and fearful of isolation. Infection. Death!
‘’Can I visit my grandparents?’’
But it is already on record; the aged are vulnerable and must be isolated from the public.
Gender based violence.
The lockdown has heightened hostility levels between spouses and also their children. Marriages gasp for breathe, spouses unable to weather the unbearable lockdown nest . Some parents, and their children have been driven out by distressed environments. Besides, children are vulnerable to exploiters, abusers and predators, many of whom they live with. Unintended teenage pregnancy statistics paint a gloomy picture of the girl child now under siege . Social norms and discrimination are less than friendly. Besides , reproductive health burden is compounded by reduced access to health care. Many teenage girls are now domestic workers in their homes. Together with the adolescent boys many are anxious, irritable , hopeless, alcoholic and even suicidal. The health systems are overburdened. With reduced access to life saving medical services , will the risk of malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, increasing morbidity and mortality in homes.
But back to my lockdown nest.
My children’s’ academic dreams are moribund, or so it would seem. And for the single parent it is a direct hit. My shopping trips are few and far between for fear of infection .Why complicate my children’s liver by orphan-hood?
Alas! The night long curfew has silenced the robbers and so we now sleep easy .We also have in our keeping face masks and hand sanitizers of every which hue and shade…
To be continued…