Wired to survive

A change in the status quo always comes at a cost. As much as we may complain about boredom and being stuck in a rut, there is a certain security and comfort that routine provides. Few things can boast of changing life on a global level, Covid 19 is one of those things. At first, for me, it was just one of those things you read on the news, then I read that a case had been confirmed in Nigeria and just like that, it went from a distant news to a very real and present threat. The first thing was the fear; I, along with many others, was concerned about the ability of the country to handle it. Although in 2014, Ebola was handled remarkably well, there was no guarantee that this one would be. The next thing was the information overload. From WhatsApp statuses to news stations. It seemed everyone was talking about the Corona virus. There were questions: Where did it come from? A lab? A bat? Something else? Do I just have a cold or is it the virus? There was advice: drink lemon tea, sanitise, take your vitamins, wear your masks, stay six feet away. The third thing was the change; no hugging, no large gatherings and most memorable of all, the lockdown. The things we used to take for granted were now unattainable luxuries. During all this, I had just started my NYSC*, a one year mandatory service for Nigerian graduates and I was posted to a School in Nasarawa state. My means of transportation then was by bus, a crowded bus carrying people who may have been exposed to the virus. There was exchange of money and all forms of unavoidable body contact. I made it through with a mask on my face, a bottle of sanitizer in my bag and a prayer in my heart. There was the weekly Community Development Service meetings, another gathering of people who may have have been exposed to the virus. I made it through the same way. For some reason, not everyone believed there was a virus. They were easy to identify and in typical Nigerian manner, loved to tease those of us with masks. In my PPA*, we tried to enforce the rules but considering we were dealing with primary and Junior Secondary School students, it was almost impossible. I'll never forget when we received the Federal instruction that all schools should shut down in order to enforce the lockdown. It was already exam period and somehow, with a lot of scrambling, we were able to start and finish the end of term exams in three days. Needless to say, our students didn't find it funny. We all went home, thinking life would resume in another month or two. For the first time in my life, I had nothing but time on my hands. All the things I had neglected due to "not having time" were staring at me as I guiltily continued to neglect them. We all tried to adjust to the new normal and naturally, there was a lot of fear and uncertainty. Most devastating of all, was seeing the death toll all over the world and the life long effects on the survivors, The desperation of governments and the heroic sacrifices of health care professionals, The hardship and hunger on the masses due to not being able to work. The unspoken question was, would the world ever recover from this? One thing was proven: Humans are wired to survive. In the midst of all these, I saw a great display of faith as people sought a reason to hope. I saw the fellowship of a community as neighbours shopped for the elderly and vulnerable around them. I saw the kindness of strangers as people contributed cash and kind to alleviate the hardship. Lessons were learned, people vowed to never take a hug for granted again. We were forced to slow down and spend time with our own selves and our loved ones. I saw the truth as I realised, along with everyone else that nothing in life is guaranteed. Unforeseen circumstances can pop up at any time bringing welcome and unwelcome change. So, the time to love, the time to appreciate, the time to forgive, the time to act, is now. In my part of the world, the lockdown lasted six months and the death toll wasn't very high. For the most part, life as usual has resumed. In areas where it hasn't, we survive. One day at a time. *** NYSC: National Youth Service Corps PPA: Place of Primary Assignment.

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