It was a chilly morning in late August. “Today is the day,” I thought, as I parked my bicycle in its usual spot. There wasn't a sound to be heard in the area, other than the occasional chirp of a bird, awake for the hunt. As the sun rose above the horizon, numerous shadows cast across the cement apron of the Rockcliffe airport. Planes. The aircraft, each different in complexion, lined the sides of the ramp, yearning for the skies. I couldn't help feeling a surge of excitement, envisioning what lay ahead. The adventure was just beginning. I made my way around the side of the tiny, wooden building with my flight bag in hand. The light morning breeze ruffled my hair. I grimaced. “Looks like it'll be a windy day,” I thought to myself, knowing the wind was bound to pick up. I made my way up the creaky steps and into the flight club where my instructor would inspect my final flight plan. I took a seat on the old vinyl couch in the pilot's lounge. The next hour was spent reviewing my flight plan and ensuring everything was in order. After a grueling wait, my instructor walked in. Greg, a seasoned pilot and senior flight instructor, would sign me out for my first cross-country flight. I greeted him and sheepishly handed over my planning sheets. I watched with anticipation as he looked over the documents, nodding approval after every step. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, he said, “Alright, let's get you a plane and you're good to go”. We walked down the hallway to the dispatch station where I was assigned a Cessna 172, fresh out of inspection. After grabbing my equipment, I hurriedly exited the building in the direction of my aircraft to perform the walk around; an essential step to ensure the security of an aircraft. The inspection went smoothly, as expected, and I was ready to go. With my survival kit loaded and my navigation charts ready, I performed my final startup checks. With a twist of a key, the old Lycoming engine roared to life. I taxied to the end of the runway. My Cessna was ready to fly and so was I. Full power. The engine roared like a lion as we barrelled down the runway. I could feel every bump in the pavement and every instability in the air. 55 knots. As I'd practiced many times before, I pulled back on the yoke. We were airborne. The aircraft climbed through the mid-morning sky as it drew further away from the world below. After communicating my departure route with local traffic, I switched to terminal frequency and continued my climb. I reached 8000 feet and the controller cleared me on course to Kingston. I banked the aircraft to the left, set my heading and started my timer. The journey had begun. I couldn't help but gaze out my window at the glimmering water of the Frontenac lakes beneath me. Suddenly, I realized I was flying alone with the grandeur of the Canadian wilderness stretching for miles in every direction. Most would feel terror. I felt alive. I had never been more confident in my abilities. An overwhelming feeling of happiness overtook me as I realized I'd found my second home – My calling. After an hour, the endless forest gave way to a large lake on the horizon. Lake Ontario. I could see the city of Kingston along the shore of the lake. I started my descent. As I inched lower, I could see the shadow cast by the aircraft glistening on the lake's surface. I was one with the machine. Its behavior was intertwined with mine. Suddenly, a violent gust of wind struck the airplane and it veered abruptly to the left. I corrected quickly, my heart pounding in my chest. The wind had increased significantly. I knew it would be a challenge to get the plane on the ground. The flight service operator gave me a runway to land. I started my approach over Lake Ontario. The glistening turquoise water below looked peaceful, unaware of the buffeting winds aloft. I turned onto the base leg and started my approach into the airport. Sweat pearled down my face as I maneuvered the old aircraft onto final approach. Full flaps. The runway was dead ahead. The airport was getting closer every second. A nasty crosswind forced me to tilt the wings into the wind to maintain my course. Five hundred feet. We would be touching down within thirty seconds. I continued my approach into the inner-city airport with determination. Fifty feet. I could see the runway numbers just ahead. “It's now or never,” I thought. Moments before the wheels touched the ground, I pulled back gently on the yoke and put the aircraft into a flare. The maneuver was one I'd practiced. It allowed me to bleed off the extra speed. I felt the plane descend until the squeak of the tires assured me that the aircraft was on the ground. I applied the brakes and exited onto the nearest taxiway. “What a flight,” I thought to myself. I closed my eyes. Pandemic. Shutdown. Lockdown. Mask Up. Isolate yourself. But I persisted. A dream come true. A licensed pilot at last.
The Cathedral Post Office, Uptown, Manhattan. I was walking along with others on the 2nd floor. Each of us was carrying one or more large boxes. We are all mail processing clerks. Our duty was shorting, scanning, and preparing mail for distribution. Job started at 3am, but I always came at 12am. Because my home was too far away. The outbreak of the pandemic has just calmed. Many offices and companies were still closed, and people were facing an extreme financial crisis. My husband recently got a job, but the salary was low. Before this job, he got an unemployment allowance. I didn't, because I was a student. I earned money by working at a study job before COVID 19, but that opportunity has closed. All colleges are online now. It was hard to continue education with only my husband's income, so I joined the postal job. I worked at night and attended online classes during the day. “Are you okay?” Someone asked to see me standing. “I couldn't walk,” I said in a scared voice. “What's wrong?” “I had a terrible car accident last week. Everything was fine, but today I'm feeling a lot of pain in my knees." She helped me to sit down on a chair. After two hours my older son (28 years old) took me home. My doctor told me, “It happened because you didn't get enough rest." After the car accident, I should have taken a rest for a month, but I continued my job because it would become permanent after three months. Eventually, I lost my job and we had to move out of our apartment due to financial difficulties. Then my husband became sick and needed surgery. Despite all this, I didn't give up on my studies, but I was always worried about how I would continue them. After that, I managed to get through three more semesters through various struggles. I'm just on the verge of graduation now. But my misfortunes haven't left me. New critical problems have arisen in my life. I got an urgent call from my doctor before the Fall-2022 semester. She told me that I have heart blockages and that she has scheduled for an angioplasty at Mount Sinai Hospital on August 25. I was extremely disappointed to hear that. My classes will start on August 25. If I die or become sicker from this treatment, my dream of earning my degree will not come true. I only have one more semester left to graduate. So, I didn't want to go through with the procedure. My doctor told me, "Your life is more important than your studies." I couldn't tell my doctor how important studying is to me. When I was nine months old, I lost my mother. My stepmother stopped my studies in the middle, and it took me more than two decades to struggle. In 2015, I moved to the United States and started my studies through the GED program. It wasn't easy for me because I had been out of studies for a long time and English was not my first language. On the first day of class, my teacher asked me some questions and I couldn't understand or answer anything. My eyes filled with tears, and I told myself that I wouldn't come back to class the next day. But I did. Within a week, my doctor called me again. She gave me some medical tests a few days before. After receiving the reports, she immediately deemed my angioplasty as urgent. She said that I could have a stroke at any moment. When the doctor confirmed that I would be able to go back to my classes within two or three days, I agreed to the procedure. After the angioplasty, I had various health problems. In addition to the blocked arteries, the doctor found blood clots. It was a little complicated. When I got my senses, I saw the nurse holding a part of my right arm tightly because the bleeding was not stopping. I left the hospital holding my right hand tightly because I had class the next day. But I was so sick that I couldn't go to class the next day. After three days, I started attending classes regularly and doing class assignments along with household chores. At that time, I had to take so many medicines that I always fell asleep and forgot everything. I felt a lot of pain in my right hand. I often forgot to take medicine on time and became sick quickly. My whole body was filled with big blue and black spots that looked like injury marks. But I was happy when I received my final grades. I got four "A" in four subjects (two were A-)." I am thankful to my kind professors for considering my hard work. My bad luck still hasn't spared me. Right after the fall 2022 semester, my husband twice contracted COVID-19. He was extremely sick and quit his job. I have faced so many difficulties since starting my studies that I am now afraid "will I be able to finish my last semester of graduation!" But I feel that someone is constantly helping me from behind. He brought me back from death's door five times and protected me many times from the conspiracies of my stepmother and dishonest people. So, I believe that he will help me fulfill my dream this time too!
My first reaction to the pandemic on March 12, 2020--after securing toilet paper and hand sanitizer--was to help my family and the nonprofits I was working with weather the storm. “It's only for two weeks,” everyone said. “It's going to be so much longer than that,” I said. “And, the effects will last for years.” Turns out, the pandemic itself was going to last for years. By nature, I'm a planner. I like to have a strategy. Even if crazy things happen, if you have a plan, you can pivot. The early days of the pandemic drove me to my computer. I made lists. I'm a big list-maker. I already had a solid plan in place for the nonprofits before the pandemic hit, so I wasn't worried about that. If they stayed the course and remained proactive, they would be fine. Becoming reactive would have been a disaster. At home, my parents had recently moved in with me after selling their house. They have never been worriers or list makers or planners. While my kitchen pantry upstairs was prepped with at least two weeks of food that we could survive on, theirs was bare. Up until COVID-19, my prepping was in anticipation of a blizzard or power outage, not a global pandemic. Did my parents have canned goods? No. They picked up fast food or did take out every day for nearly every meal. Did they have a supply of toilet paper and paper towels? No. Were they worried? No. I was. At my computer, I had lists of what we needed to do to get ahead of this crisis. I had never pre-ordered and picked up groceries before but in our new contactless world, it was heaven-sent. Of course, I went right to Amazon to order masks, gloves, disinfectant, and later, when I became really COVID-savvy, a digital, no contact thermometer and a pulse oximeter. And then, the world froze. No one was going in to work anymore. The stores were empty and the shelves were bare. I no longer had to think of excuses to get out of my over-committed weekends. Suddenly, there were no plans. I had everything I needed. My lovable dog, Toby, was by my side every day. I saw my masked niece and family in socially distanced gatherings from ten feet away in driveways and on decks. My friends and I Zoomed. My neighbors group texted and did porch drop-offs of freshly baked bread and goodies. I signed up for online yoga, painting classes, interesting virtual tours of fascinating places in the world, read books, cleaned my house, and watched YouTube videos on how to cut my own hair, which was not my best idea. I used to cherish days when I didn't have to drive to work, saving me sometimes two or more hours of commute time. I always wondered what I would do with extra time. Would I exercise and eat right? (The answer to that is a resounding “no”.) Writing has always been something I've enjoyed. Sometimes, if something bad happened in my life, I would imagine a story inspired by the true events. Only, I'd make it twisty. If someone was a jerk to me, well a character inspired by that person might find themselves killed off in the story, involved in a ridiculous crime, or on the receiving end of sweet karma. Or I would see something happen in real life--maybe a near-miss car accident, or someone buying a winning lottery ticket after they changed places in line, or a stray cat whose eyes told me that he had an interesting story--and I would imagine and wonder “what would happen if” and then I'd write a story about it. I never did anything with the stories and most times they went unfinished. Just the act of writing was therapeutic. I'd always said that if I had the time, I would write. Not just for work, but for fun. Write just for me. Suddenly, the pandemic gave me time--all the time in the world. I was out of excuses. So I started to write. I found a short story contest to enter. Normally, I'm a pretty competitive person. I like to win. But in this case, I was well aware that I was a novice. Knowing this was my first try, I didn't have my usual high expectations or hopes of winning. I was looking at it as a learning experience. I would see if there was any feedback--if they said, “Don't give up your day job” or “Nice effort, try again.” And then came the phone call. My story was chosen for publication in an anthology. It didn't win one of the cash prizes or earn a judges' award, but that was alright. I was going to be a published author! I know I will continue working in the nonprofit field because, after thirty years, it's part of who I am. But now, part of me is an author too. I have a plan. I can see myself, in my retirement years, sitting at my antique desk in front of a big window overlooking the ocean or a tranquil lake with a beautiful sunset in the distance writing--who knows maybe even finishing a book. But I'll be doing the thing I didn't know I could do until the world temporarily closed.
Whatever the case may be, the universe still moves on. 18 months ago, we greeted and congratulated by handshake, gave our loved ones warm hugs and enjoyed soccer in multiples. But now, we begin such statements with the phrase ‘used to'. Who knew we would ever be visited by a pandemic which does not know its way back. My sister was fortunate enough to have had the grand wedding she had always wished for right before the very first pandemic related lockdown was announced in Ghana and I was lucky enough to have had my mid-semester exams cancelled before I could make any slight move of decreasing my CWA as owing to unpreparedness. Due to the outbreak, every student in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology was ordered to leave the school premises as soon as possible. The sight of my room mate and I packing our belongings out of our hostel alongside other students, reminded me of how we were similarly instructed to leave campus two years ago on the basis of a student body demonstration which turned out violent in 2018 -when I was in first year. That instant, I just couldn't help but think, ‘Why me and my year group? Can't we just school in peace? Why us?'. Yet, what was done was done; covid 19's corona virus had crossed borders to Ghana and we had to follow the laid down rules now more than ever - leave school, and stay at home, wash your hands ever so frequently, use your sanitizer as well as nose mask and most importantly practice social distancing. So I came home, even though I dreaded how I would cope in the Metro Mass bus from Kumasi to Sunyani without anyone coughing or sneezing around me. I had my nose mask tight on my face and even had gloves on. As for this time round, on a long journey, I kept awake not to let my guard down no matter what. I called my Dad before the bus got to the Sunyani station, so there was no time to waste in getting home at last. Immediately I arrived at home, Mom had already made an elixir of lemon, ginger and pineapple with some local herbs blended together, ready for me to drink and free myself from traces of the virus. For a moment, it ludicrously seemed like an antidote to the virus. I freshened up right after with a warm bath upon Mom's strict instructions and relaxed from a long day that day had been, hoping the pandemic would die off soon. Two days later, 3 of my sisters and my 4 cousins arrived home from Accra(Ghana's capital) seeking a safe haven. Then came the lockdown and I already had a full house; the fun had began and so had the distractions. We watched the movies, sang the songs and even danced to latest songs of Ghanaian artistes- Kidi, Kwame Eugene and others whose music we found entertaining. Days passed by and I realized I was in the second week of being at home. The number of cases kept on rising each day from 2 to 50 to 110 and the count was still ongoing. The mention of the virus and quarantine sent chills down the spines of many as it began to gradually spread in Ghana. The pandemic had become the new talk on TV stations and even trended than some stars on social media. Coronavirus had come to bring lots of sorrow, pain, insecurity and threats. It had come to rob us of our loved ones, our means of livelihood, our set plans and resources. Reading the news each day, I cringed to the number of infected persons in the United States and China, increasing deaths in France and Spain, not to mention the case in Italy. Well frankly, I never thought I would live to witness the barbarity of such a pandemic. I had heard of plagues, the new world small pox and the black death that tortured the world in the middle ages but covid 19's coronavirus had beat the populace with an easy and simple task of hand washing. Soon enough, the world was in late May and there was no sign of coronavirus empathizing with us to take back or even reduce its impact. School had still not reopened and I was struggling with some of my courses online. Lots of things I used to do at home became boring. I got so inactive and dull. I did not find interest in doing anything whatsoever. I felt like that which the enlightened called life was being drained from my body each minute. I pondered over what I could do to become energetic and lively again.‘See the light in the little activities you call hobbies , for through them will you be able to fully indulge in the big activities of your life', Angie -my elder sister -encouraged when I informed her about what I was going through during my stay at home. Then, I had the idea of reinforcing my hobbies and making new ones since there was no harm in trying something new after all. I tried backyard gardening, challenged myself with yoga and took a knitting course alongside working with my Enactus team on societal projects to impact lives during the upsurge of the virus.In all, I believe the pandemic has reshaped countries, societies and individuals including me.
With the living room picture window now her quarantine portal, she marveled at creation as she observed her narrowed world. Time had stopped just long enough to help her pay attention. Processing the world's increasingly bad news was easier when gazing at God's artistic wonders. Bird songs caused her to freeze and hold her breath so she could count the syllables of each bird's call. What might they be saying? Who are they warning? Are they simply practicing their morning reveille? Masked faces hurried down the street walking their dogs. With brisk strides, they glanced about nervously as if they might be caught violating lock down requirements. The doggies didn't care, though. Their noses to the ground zig-zagged them forward toward inviting scents. But her greatest delight came from observing bunny antics in her front and back yards. Hops, dances, and chases. Ears pricking up, then flattening down to camouflage. Grazing here, scurrying there. Flopping in the dirt, then disappearing somehow. “Quick like a bunny” took on a new meaning. With dawn and dusk being their active times, she stood at the window each morning and again just after dinner. This glorious routine kept her from worrying about the growing statistics of death and dying. One day a bunny ran up the front yard downspout and then back out, scurrying to its safe place under the neighbor's large spruce tree. She named it Somebunny so she could announce, “Somebunny just ran up the downspout!” “Somebunny's in the front yard again.” “Somebunny's flopped near the flower bed.” Another day she discovered a baby bunny had made its home under their lawn mower. She named it Toro and warned him the mower was not a good place for a den. Later that Spring, three baby bunnies hopped out from under the back yard fence to graze just inches away from their warren. Quarantine's kind of entertaining, she regularly thought. Nature is so amusing. God certainly outdid himself when he created songbirds and bunnies. Then one morning, she saw the neighborhood cat trotting up the street with a baby bunny in its mouth. “No!” she cried and ran outside. But she couldn't get the cat to stop, and life was gone. Sorrow plummeted down to the depths of her soul. She cried out to God, “How can nature be so cruel?” “What were you thinking to allow such horrors?” Surprised by her lack of restraint, she stopped to listen for God's answer. The familiar still, small voice told her how He, too, cries over each lost creature. It was always His intent that the wolf lie down with the lamb, no need for killing. So, she read Creation's story. How the Genesis of life was marred by the genesis of sin. How the world fell by choice and humanity now wrestles in darkness and death. Then an image came into her mind: of Jesus' nail-scarred hands taking hold of the bunny caught in the cat's deathly grip, cradling it close to His breast and receiving it to the realm where the Genesis of life flourishes. From that day, she prayed over the bunnies. She stood watch for cats prowling along fences or crouching near porch decks. She became guard, caretaker, protector and defender, a first responder of sorts. Winter came, and the bunnies went into hiding. Snow covered the ground, but whenever it would melt away, she'd look outside the window just in case. Once or twice, she'd spy Somebunny under the neighbor's large spruce tree and she would smile, knowing he was still alive. But most of the time, she busied herself with other tasks. She paid closer attention to the news and realized the gravity of rising infection rates and death tolls especially in countries that still couldn't administer the vaccine. And she prayed. She prayed for the afflicted and the vulnerable. She prayed for the caretakers, protectors and defenders—those first responders far more critical than she. The world had morphed into an unfamiliar place. Now, fear and hopelessness cried out, kicking and screaming. Trust was absent and accusation ran rampant. Like cats killing baby bunnies, the frailty of humankind hit with brutality. Spring arrived again, and with it came new baby bunnies. Frolicking, grazing, and running for cover. She smiled and thought back to one year ago when she stood at the living room picture window observing the joy of creation. The innocence of beauty prevents us from seeing reality, she bemused. We are marred, she sighed in sorrow. Looking from the inside out once more, she gazed upward. And she saw the same hands that received the lifeless bunny now cradling the scarred world. "I'm coming soon," Jesus whispered. "I'm coming for the innocent, the pure, the poor and the persecuted. With healing in my wings and a scepter of righteousness in my right hand, I promise that evil will no longer invade creation's goodness."
Introduction The corona virus has influenced everyone, and this is the story of how I took on the virus head on and won. I am an essential grocery store worker, and I have been working just about everyday since the pandemic bean. People must eat to survive and keep the economy going so I must constantly work. This is the full story of how I conquered my fear of death and the corona virus. The Miracle That Saved My Life By the Grace of God, a miracle has changed my life from certain death, to a life of victory and courage. Some truly miraculous stories have emerged from the pandemic, and this is my story. I am a cashier at the Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania Price Chopper Supermarket and I am living through a miracle at the store. When the pandemic hit in March 2020. our sales volume and my work hours skyrocketed. As a senior citizen, I was sure the pandemic would kill me as hundreds of customers were breathing on me and in the beginning, there were no masks or protection. It is a miracle that after all this time, I have not been infected with the corona virus, and my teammates and customers are experiencing the same miracle. Only one of my teammates got the corona virus and he got it at home from his family. I do not believe any of our thousands of customers got the virus at the store. We have experienced maximum exposure and risk and yet miraculously no one has been infected with the corona virus while in the store! Price Chopper never closed up and we never had an outbreak or even a single store relate infection! Essential Workers Grocery store workers were classified as essential workers during the pandemic. The U. S. Department of Homeland Security categorized the protection and continued operation of the food and agricultural industry and related transportation activities as "Critical Infrastructure" under the COVID-19 emergence conditions. In the President's Corona Virus Guidelines for America, the White House emphasizes that food industry sector workers should continue to work and stated: "If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule." Price Chopper provided a letter so I could travel during the economic shut down. The letter stated that I work in the supermarket industry and must travel to and from work, regardless of the time of day. It is essential to the nation's food supply that I be permitted to travel to and from my job and be exempt from local restrictions, such as shelter-in-place orders, when reporting to, returning from, or performing any of my work functions. My Decision To Keep Working As a senior citizen I could have refused to work because of the obvious health risks. I decided to keep working, and I learned to overcome my fear of death during the Corona Virus Pandemic. When the pandemic hit, I came face to face with my fear of death, and I had some important decisions to make. I trust in Jesus Christ for my Salvation, so it was logical that I would keep working. In the beginning, it was very dangerous, as there were no protections and hundreds of customers were breathing on me. I was sure that I would get the virus and it would kill me. The supermarket I work for was determined to serve its customers and community. I shared my employers objectives and decided to continue working on the Front Lines. It was the right decision, as I have not been infected with the virus and none of my teammates or customers got the virus at the store! While so many institutions have suffered through outbreaks of the pandemic, we have not. As a senior citizen, I believe I should take the risks before my younger teammates, those with health issues or children, and those who are victims of discrimination. Moreover, I wanted to serve my customers, and I was willing to die for a legacy and a testimony of serving my customers, the people I love. I was really surprised that when I made this decision, I was free from my natural fear of death and willing to accept the consequences of my decision. I am taking the same risks even today. Cautious But Not Fearful I am amazed at my teammates courage in facing the pandemic, as they proceed cautiously but without fear. My teammates continued commitment to safety guidelines is the best defense against the corona virus. Conclusion A miracle is a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. There is no scientific explanation for Price Chopper's success while staying open for business during the pandemic. The store served its customers and community, and by the Grace Of God, its teammates were given the miracle of good health while working in dangerous circumstances environment. For the latest on fighting COVID 19, please watch the following video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1I_cCsaomU
I opened my eyes at the insistent sound of my alarm. It was such an annoying sound, I hated waking up like that, but I had to, I needed to revise something for school and I couldn't ask my parents to wake up at 5.30am so that they could wake me up, right? It would be extremely selfish. Especially because the reason was not a real reason. I opened the window and the sun rays entered my room. I didn't even bother putting some clothes on, nobody would notice anyway. I know I'm lazy, but online school really brings out the worst part of you. I experienced it in my own skin. As usual from a month or two - I lost track of time, every day is just exactly like the one before - I sent a text to my best friend, Anna, asking her how she was. She had Covid-19 and she was at the hospital. I couldn't go visit her, but that was fine, we always FaceTimed each other, at least once a day. I revised history and at 7.30am I checked my phone: no answer. Maybe she was still sleeping. I turned on my computer and clicked on the link our Italian teacher sent us. Great, another Italian lesson where she won't stop talking. She's a good teacher but since we're in lockdown, she just goes on and on and on with our school program without ever stopping. It's April and she's already doing something we should do at the end of May. At 10am I check my phone again: still no answers. But I mean, wouldn't I sleep until 11am if I could? Most definitely yes. I had a 20 minutes break, so I decided to have breakfast. I can eat at any time and sometimes I just forget to do it in the morning: it's not healthy, but I still do it most of the days. I returned to my online lessons: I had history, the teacher was going to test some people. I wasn't even that anxious, I had my book just next to me, if I didn't remember anything, I could just look at it. But then, then something happened, something I could never even imagine that would happen. I received a call. Obviously, I did not answer for two reasons: I was at school and it was an unknown number. They called again 5 minutes later. And again 10 minutes later. The fourth time I left the zoom call, the history lesson, and answered. I would just say I had “internet issues”, it's not like they can know in any possible way. I heard a voice I did not recognize. Maybe a male? I wasn't sure. They said “Hi, is this Valentina?”. I answered affirmatively. It was probably just a call center, always calling at the right times of the day. “I need to give you bad news.” They said. Oh no, I didn't like how that was going. They hesitated. “Come on, just say it, this way you're making it worse.” I said. “Anna has passed away this morning. You were in her “favorite contacts” list, therefore I thought I should call you.” I froze. “Yes, great nightmare, now can I wake up?” I whispered to myself. “I'm really sorry.” They said. Wait, was that really happening? It couldn't be possible, Anna was 18, she was in good health. It must have been a nightmare, right? “What is happening?” I asked. “I'm sorry.” They said, and then they hung up. I looked around me: everything was in the right place with the right colors: it couldn't be a dream, it was too vivid. I fell on my knees, finally realizing it: Anna was dead because of a stupid virus. I was sure she was going to get better soon enough, I was so sure. How did that happen? I felt a tear rolling down my cheek. I couldn't move. I don't know how long I stayed in that position, I just know that my memories after that moment are very blurry. I remember my mother hugging me, I remember walking upstairs and laying on the bed. I remember crying until I passed out. The next thing I remember is going to her funeral. No, it had to be a nightmare. Just let me wake up.
THE LOCKDOWN A sense of accomplishment was all I could feel as I stood across the window looking out over the city, but this euphoric sensation wasn't one to last. The ringing of my alarm set on the table across the room from me made sure of that. I had placed the alarm as far from me as possible so I would not have put if off since it was within an arm's length. It was already mid semester and time to get serious with my studies, especially with my lecturers reminding us that tests were around the corner. But today, none of that mattered, not the tests or the exams that usually came immediately afterwards, all that mattered was the news of a pandemic, the Covid-19 virus. The day before, when we all received news about the Federal government's decision to shut down all schools in the country was probably the first time, I took the covid-19 virus seriously. Calling friends in affected but distant countries always seemed to make the virus unreal. Receiving numerous calls from my parents made it all the more real. And that was how I sought my way home the next day. Unlike most of my friends, going home was not a problem as my family lived in the same state. Some students, however, lived in other states and had to travel long distances to get home. News of shutting down inter state borders caused in a tremendous increase in traveling costs. Some students, who couldn't travel under such short notice had to find alternative sources of accommodation. The first month at home was spent studying, in the hopes that school would soon resume. In time, I realized it wasn't going to resume anytime soon, at least not with the number of cases of the virus increasing in arithmetic progression across the entire country. More news about the virus flooded the screens of our television, fueling the fear that now engulfed us all. With the pending news of total lockdown in the state, my mother made lists of all the food stuffs we needed and sought about purchasing them all despite the inflated prices. As news of safety measures to stay safe came, so did false information often leading to confusion as to which was true. News of the virus seemed like a political propaganda to some, to others it seemed not as serious as it was made to be, but to a select few it was quite a serious matter. My family was one of those that considered it a serious matter, we never went out unless we really needed to and coming home was immediately followed by hand washing, the use of hand sanitizer and a bath. By the second month, the state has been totally locked down, dashing my hopes that school would resume by the end of the first month. By now reading books relating to academics was a distant dream, but I spent a lot of time reading novels and poems to pass time. Social media challenges were trending and watching them was fun, although I never tried any. With less novels to read, I had to find other ways to kill time, so I picked up an old hobby. Drawing family members and friends was more fun than I anticipated. Often I didn't quite get them right, but I kept practicing. Online classes were also trending, so I took up a Spanish class online. Spending more hours of my day online than I was used to took up a lot more of my data subscriptions than I anticipated. I had to cut down on my online activities. So, I got more free time and had to find new ways to spend them. After a week's worth of begging, my brother and I convinced our father to teach us to drive. We practiced along the now empty streets and it seemed like more learners were taking this opportunity too. With time, we got better but not after giving the old car a few scratches here and there. On one occasion, my brother almost hit a car in front of it while I almost drove in to a ditch once but with time we got better. After a while, I had built a routine that kept me busy. First I would go out early in the morning to practice driving with my brother, then when I got home I would practice my Spanish, read novels and draw. Between all these, watching movies was always squeezed in between. I had almost completely adapted to a life at home. Being a student was now a distant memory I often reminisced about. On one of those moments of nostalgia, my phone called me back from the land of wandering thoughts. At first, it was nice hearing an old friend's voice, but the fear I sensed soon made me worry. Apparently he was experiencing some symptoms of the corona virus after traveling to one of the states where the pandemic was more prevalent. He talked about his plans to get tested while I encouraged him not to worry and wait patiently to get his test result before jumping to conclusions. Calming him down took awhile but it eventually worked. After the call ended, his words kept coming back to me, “I don't want to die.” I realized so many people had died from the virus and I couldn't help but be thankful for my life and that of my family.
The lock down had barely been lifted when people scampered on the road making the most of the time because no one knew when the state will be shut again. We heard about the terrible virus and we had so much confidence that before it gets to our country, it would be burned up by the heat in this part of the world, little did we know. It had come, the government declared a 2 weeks lock down leaving the masses stranded, almost hopeless and begging to survive. Soon the ban was lifted, only to be followed by a routine of work hours and a curfew of 8 pm- 6 am daily followed suit. This routine made life miserable for me but we could not object to it cause it was for our good. It was Friday, few minutes to 04: 00 pm, I had informed my colleagues that I would leave 2 hours after closure since I still had a pile of work yet to be done, I usually stay later than others compiling daily- monthly reports, thus I was left alone with my boss. I had nearly finished when I heard a knock on the door, it was my boss who came to inform me that he was going, I did not want to be left alone, I quickly shut down my system and followed him out. It was already late and he was not heading my direction. I bade him farewell hoping to see him the next week, I wish I had known what laid in store for me. Hurrying down the street, heading for the junction, I had to use the footbridge in order to get a cab that will go my way. A 100 meters to the bridge, I sighted a causally dressed young lady, she seemed to be waiting for someone, more so a stranger who needed direction, but I thought to myself, any sensible stranger would not wait on a lonely path just to ask for directions, my instinct gave a warning beep, run! I heard my heart tell me. Approaching the bridge, she took out her phone as if to call someone, she called out: "sister, please excuse me" i did not wait to hear what other information she had for me, I obeyed my instinct and took to my heels. She came after me, slowly and slowly, I ran as fast as I could up the bridge's stairs, straight and down again, my heartbeat, as loud as a gong. Racing down the stairs on the opposite lane, I flagged down a cab and hopped in without asking questions, I screamed "drive! We zoomed off and I felt at peace. A few meters into our journey, I noticed funny movements in the car, the driver kept using the rear mirror to look at me, his hair was braided, he had tattoos and a piercing on his nose, "okay I can overlook that" I said to myself, a nursing mother was in the front seat with her child, the lady by my side had an unkempt skin, she seemed to be uncomfortable, scared and all of that and a huge fair man by her side, making a total of 4 persons. I still did not feel anything was wrong in this cab, not until the lady beside me took out a spray from her bag and spoke in low tones, she told the man she just wanted to know what the spray scented like. I sat by the door, all the windows were partly down, I am allergic to harsh smell, so I wound the glass down, the driver wound it up from his seat, I did not know why I didn't oppose to this strange act. In split of seconds, she sprayed what she had towards me, I gave her a questionable look as to asking why she did that? I covered my nose, but luck was not on my side this time, even with my nose mask on, I had inhaled a good dose of it, instead of choking, I felt dizzy, that was when it dawned on me, I've been kidnapped, I screamed out loud: "from fry pan to fire, oh no! Just then did the same lady who seemed uncomfortable and scared asked of my name; "my name is Blue" I stammered, tears pouring from my eyes into my nose mask, "wow, I'm red then" they burst out laughing. She snatched my bag and started ransacking it, she said: "this babe is poor babe oh! she no get anything, what do we do? She pulled out something from my bag and threw it back with so much speed, she blurted: "eeww, disgusting fellow", just then did I realize she had taken out my handkerchief that was drenched in mucus from catarrh which I suffered through out the week. At every point where it seemed like I would sleep off, she gave me a slap to concentrate. She took out my wallet and found 2 expired debit cards, an expired university identity card, a few passports and just the complete amount of money to take me home. She took out my umbrella, then my ballerina shoes and she exclaimed; "did something die in your shoes, why do they smell so awful", I still couldn't say a word, I was so terrified. They dropped me at a junction I never knew, and carted away with my umbrella( I loved that umbrella so much). Sucked up in fear, I found another cab, this time I assessed the driver to the point he said; "madam, are you going or not? I sat all cuddled up at the back seat, wishing I could teleport myself from the car to the arms of my mama. I got home terrified, dizzy and uncoordinated. My sister mailed my boss asking for a week leave, he gave two, in his words: "let her quarantine herself".
My bourbon and Valium induced coma ended as I opened my eyes in the wee hours of the day to the perching of various birds I stir in distain. I flung my black coils out of my face cursing at the fact that my drunken self-had not worn my headscarf. The last thing I needed was a tangled afro. I had cried myself to sleep yet another night. My husband remained undisturbed with his hands around me. My guess is he had watched me do it but said nothing. What more could he say, all the ‘time heals all wounds',' and ‘she's in a better place now ‘had gotten old. All he could do now was watch and wait and stoke up on the bourbon. Yes, this was unbecoming of me. The ‘together one' but what can I say, grief hits unexpectedly. Which is strange to say considering I had seen the death take the one I loved. I got up and took on the role assigned to me at birth. That of girl, woman, nurturer of all. I lay the table as I have done in the last thousand days or so with each cup and plate ever so delicately placed. Uncertain and afraid waiting to be wiped out. A feeling I had become all too familiar with. Hand sanitizer had been my weapon, a shield and painful reminder of the constant cloud that had hung above me. I reminisced back to simpler times, filled with merriness and certainty, before the contagion times. When brunch filled our days and trash talk was our pass time. The only healthy adult relationship other than my husband had come to an end. I was lost, unable to move paralyzed by shock at first. Unable to process the fact that I would never call her again. In the weeks to follow I read and reread all our emails, ever text, every detail of every picture glued to my mind. Because forgetting them would somehow forget her. Auto piloting my way through classes, through my meetings, numbing myself with the various sleeping pills. It was a cold June day, 4 months since her death and the splashes of water did but slap harder as my trance like state continued. Washing this automobile filled me with memories of a time when this car was our chariot, transporting us to different adventures in hopes of an escape from our newly found motherhood straight out of college. Two women hot boxing in a minivan in hopes of desperately reclaiming our youth. Blasting outdated tunes and singing along like we were seventeen again. Trying to escape the mundanity of their married lives and the high paced gear life had drove them in. My heart had grown weary, tired of tears, my eyes would permanently remember the memories of this sadness. My mind would replay the pain with each earring I found that was hers. Each borrowed sweater stuffed in my closet, always had a spare because I forgot mine, because Lord knows she was my twin flame. I watched the bacon sizzle. Feet still bare and wet, hair now a frizzled mess, clothes still dump yet vastly unaware while watching my offspring laugh. Their toothless smiles as they smothered each other in syrup. Their little nappy pigtails leaping in joy just as they did in love. Uninhibited by the current situation. I was once them I thought to myself. The two of them had each other like we did. Gifted by birth unlike us gifted by the chance encounter of a period mishap. Present yet unaware,'' You are still alive, your children are healthy, your husband and other best friend is still alive'' I had constantly told myself in the beginning in hopes of jilting my spirits awake. But she had not steered clear of the sadness. She wanted to cling to the sadness as much as I did, there was no use in fighting. Giving in took less energy, less fight. Each masked grocery run had screamed imposter with every feigned smile and polite pleasantry. Each sunrise I wondered why I awoke, while my saliva had not betrayed me at night and gagged me into death because at least then I would be with her. I sat with my two children, staring into the window while my mug steamed on. I longed for my mother who had passed two decades ago. For her comforting bosom and her reassuring scone scent. Would they sit together, would they meet each other? I wondered on, pondering at what they would talk about. Mother would definitely have brought some semblance of sense. All I know is I never wouldn't have bared to watch her die too from the glass divide, while she was hooked up to oxygen. Not allowed to touch her one more time as she slipped away. Unable to throw myself on her casket in a hazmat suit at her funeral, watching as her body was cast into a pit like a mere recycled can. The smell of sizzled burnt bacon filled the air. ‘'Fire!'' my children exclaimed in panic as my adrenaline kicked in and grabbed the fire extinguisher. With it gone left a pitch black mark on the kitchen cabinet. In that moment it dawned me that life was for the living. My husband had slept through most of that and had joined us after the episode elapsed. ‘'What's smells charred Hun and what's for breakfast?'' he asked. ‘'Eggs and bacon.'' I replied.
Is Covid-19 A Retribution From On High? For believers in a ‘Higher Power' of whatever hue, there must be times when one wonders if that heavenly body ever loses patience with what goes on below. Just imagine that said entity, after creating a magical gift like the planet Earth, balking at the mere sight of the inflicted destruction created by the modern-day human rulers. So picture if you will, the Earth designed to be the epitome of perfection, with deep blue oceans, filled with cleansing marine life, corals and fauna. The lush green pastures and forests, a veritable playground for animals of every kind to frolic and multiply in. And a sky, lovingly painted in an infinite pastille of blue. The Sun, positioned to cascade the world with daytime light. Its health giving rays a source of energy, vitamins and radiation to promotion the essential growth to Earths plant life. Then to offer a twist of gaiety, brightly coloured birds added to soar free upon the thermals singing and chirping their own sweet song. Insects of all shapes and sizes, also taking their pleasure by cleaning and preening the land, whilst employed by ‘Mother Nature' as her little postmen of pollen to fertilize the eagerly awaiting flowers. Finally, to the world came man and woman in human form. By purpose they were first made humble, introduced as merely another species on this vast orb of paradise. But human's had not been created as equals, far from it. They were enhanced in their powers, by featuring highly dexterous hands and a powerful brain, capable of ever wider thought and development. The human, by design, was destined to evolve, blossom, and ultimately achieve mastery over the planet. Indeed blossom they did over countless centuries. Through trial and error and with the use of ingenuity, human's conquered the arts of cultivation, husbandry and propagation. This set them apart from other species, now they could not only create food, but store it for when needed. Thus humans could concentrate their powerful minds on an ever wider scale. Yet over time the human thrust for world improvement began to lose its way. Progress became twisted into the pursuit of false gods called money and power. The simple basics of life as initially created for beauty, necessity or utility, were becoming abused in the pursuit of profit. The true purpose of evolution becoming corrupted by neglect, or as mere collateral damage of mans short term objectives. So by now, the believers in the ‘Heavenly Body', should not be criticized for wondering if some of the worlds disasters of nature, weren't in some form an early warning of displeasure as cast down from on high? The words: “Don't push your luck too far humans!” Coming to mind. But such actions in the past were predominantly a regional issue, whereas now the life threatening pollution and abuse circumvents the world. Those original blue oceans are now awash with detritus. The lush green pastures and forests, plundered for minerals, or stripped bare to return ever greater profits for ‘The Man'. Originally human leaders were men of vision who nurtured the land whilst thanking it for its blessings. Such men of wisdom have now sadly gone, and in their place sit closed minded men of money, thirsty for power and addicted to wealth. Some notably worthless caretakers, through lack of intellect, or simply devoid of interest, actually lay sermons to the beauty of power and wealth. With heads held high and puffed out chests, they espouse how the ultimate value of the world is calculated in the monetary depiction of a long line of zero's on a computer screen. So with all things considered, who would blame the ‘Higher Power' looking down on such worthless views to take some action? How can such men of power, deaf, dumb and blind to reason, be made to see that they are dragging the world down the wrong path? Subtle warnings of the past have come and gone without effect, Mother Nature has displayed her power in many forms of recent years, but no change of direction appears forthcoming. Has the time eventually come when a ‘Final Warning' from on high is due? I for one can almost hear the words from the heavens… “Send in the Covid-19!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZypKfRKGRLk
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