‘COVID-19 TOOK AWAY MY RELIGION, NORMAL HOME’

By Adedoyin Adebayo

It was a wet Sunday morning.  The breeze swept into my room through the open door.  The weather would have kept a lot of people in bed and hindered them from attending church services. I was determined to be the exception.

I lay in bed half asleep, then scuttled to my feet at the sound of my alarm.  It was 7 AM and the church service was to begin an hour later.  I got off the bed rubbing my eyes as I offered a silent prayer. 

I took a bath, subsequently dressed up and ran a comb through my hair as I grabbed my bag from the shelf.  I was headed for church, or so I thought!

Upon getting to the sitting room, I found everyone sitted as though they were having a vacation.  The eyes of all my family members were on me.  From the way they stared at me I thought I was wearing rags or looked like a crazy lady. Suddenly I noticed I was the only one dressed for church. This was strange because my father detested missing services. This custom probably topped his list of priorities.

I was standing and looking like someone who had jumped on the wrong bus and ended up lost. Thankfully, my father came to my rescue.

‘There’s no service today; where are you going, madam?’ he said while turning his gaze to the TV screen.

‘I- I thought there’d be service today since there was one last week,’ I answered.

‘Haven’t you heard that all churches should be closed and services should be on hold till God knows when? We’d have to worship from home.  This coronavirus has not come to play kankan,’ said my mother.

‘I didn’t know it was already this serious. I thought we only had cases in Lagos State. Is it now in Oyo, too?’ I asked.

‘Come see for yourself,’ said my father.

I looked at the television and read the headlines: four cases of covid-19 in Oyo State.

‘Oh, I see.’

I didn’t need a prophet to state the obvious to me; I headed back to my room and had a change of clothes. 

I lay flat on my bed and pondered over what I had just heard. 

I could hear the reporter from the news as she read the headline.

the number of coronavirus cases in Italy…

…there’s been a number of reported cases in Spain…

…citizens now panic as prices of food items rise…

I shut my eyes for a minute and thought about what I had just heard. Growing up, I was into American movies and from what the technology usually portrayed I thought coronavirus was no match for the USA. How wrong was I!

In the days that followed more deaths continued to occur, the figures kept rising and I watched on Aljazeera, CNN and BBC how several families were struggling to survive. Many families were running short on supplies as they feared exposure to the deadly virus if they dared to step out.

As I watched the lives of others on the screen, the reality dawned on me!  With the partial lockdown, every member of my family was home. We are a family of six.  In no time, we began to ration the food we had at home.  We could not afford to cook surplus meals, let alone waste it.

The following week at the market the prices of foodstuffs skyrocketed. 

The food considered as a commoner’s delicacy, garri, also had its price increased.  

Vegetable oil had become gold in the market. 

Some improvisations had to be made without thinking twice. We had to switch from vegetable oil to palm oil, from Titus to sardine, shawa, which I hated but had no choice but to eat.  All those food improvisations were still manageable.  

What actually annoyed me was the switch from sachet water to borehole water, which I had to fetch at least twice a week. Just the thought of the tedious journey weakened my bones.

Owing to the lockdown, most businesses were experiencing shortages. My dad is an engineer.  He had plans to travel before the whole COVID drama begun, now he is home with us.  

Mum works in a school, but thanks to the coronavirus, there was no income coming from her end.  We all had to rely solely on my dad for funds.  This also sucks, by the way!

I did not want to stay home doing nothing, and this speaks badly of a writer especially.  It is highly unheard-of for a young writer to fold the4ir arms during such time of inactivity.  I knew I needed to swing into action.  I set out to attending free online classes.  I was glad that God had touched the hearts of these people to allow me drink from their fountain of knowledge at no cost.  While some went smoothly, others were a bit rusty.  Who was I to complain now?

I started out well since I had determined to not allow my thirst for knowledge to die.  I attended these online classes until I ran out of data.  There is nothing more frustrating than having no source of income for oneself.  I wasn’t going to bother my dad with the money for data or any of my friends.  I had never asked friends for such and depending on them would not be an attitude I was willing to imbibe even with the lockdown.  Eventually, I asked my dad; there was no better way or perhaps no other way.

After the trainings or on days when I do not have any training, it is either I am listening to music as I surf the Internet or my head is buried in a book. In fact, I am  most likely reading books ranging from self helps and relationships to finance.  I am not much of a movie fan. I also enjoy listening to my friends and counselling in general.  I love purposeful research, too, towards my future goals and aspirations.  When I am not doing any of the above I am either getting ideas for my book with my supportive family or actually writing it. But it has been a thrilling experience.  

I can only hope and pray, like the multitude across the globe, that the cure for this deadly virus and things return back to normal.  I doubt if it could be the same though but at least we could find other ways to get back on our feet. We will rise again, I know.

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Victor Kalalanda

Victor Kalalanda is a final year media student at the University of Zambia, and he is the current managing editor of this online newspaper, the Lusaka Star. His expertise as a final year media student straddles two vastly different countries, namely Switzerland, where he worked for a top-tier media agency as a B360 Digital Marketing Global Intern, and Zambia, where he has, as either stringer or intern, competitively held jobs with all State-owned media—the Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (TV1 & TV2). For additional media production skills and insights, he completed a two-months internship with Loyola Media Productions & Broadcasting Zambia Limited—and continues to serve with a campus radio station as a reporter, news and show presenter. Before university, he survived on a series of odd jobs, later worked as a street hawker, itinerant security guard and barman, during which time he suffered bouts of humiliation and poverty, and vowed that if he ever got a real chance at life, he would die a little to make the most of it. As such, since entering university, grit and determination have been his life's guiding principles and this has in the past led a lecturer and a recruiter to describe him as "very aggressive and ambitious." In 3 years he has built a reputation for academic excellence, won 3 coveted awards and he has served in top student leadership positions as a class representative, publicity secretary and senior news editor. In his final year he now concentrates not only on building a great GPA but also on raising his career profile as a digital marketing consultant, professional ghostwriter and book editor, journalist, managing editor of the Lusaka Star, public relations aide and research assistant. He balances up his enthusiasm for career development with humanitarian work as a secretary general of an NGO, and further as a guitarist. He enjoys intellectual discussions around the subjects of love, relationships, media, politics, economics, education, underdevelopment, religion, charity, literature, sports and travelling.

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