Uwem Umana, UK

Warscapes Corona Notebooks

The corona virus diary – a peek into the valley of the shadow of death.

It first started as a body pain, then it intensified. The body aches were dreadful. It seemed as if they had used an axe to hit and hammer all the bones and joints in my body. I had just come back from work and I went to bed. Then a feverish feeling and then a shut down and then you are rolling down the valley of the shadow of death. The temperature increased. The aches intensified and then my body shut down. My appetite was gone. I lost my sense of time, I lost my sense of happenings around me. Pukings! And then the bilish substances that came out. I called the national help line. They called me back in 30 mins time. I spoke to a doctor who consulted with me over the phone. You have Covid 19. Stay home! Drink plenty of fluid, take paracetamol and take rest.

I looked at my feet, it had gone pale and white completely – signs of serious dehydration.

I didn’t know what time of the day it was. I was oscillating between my bed and the floor. No one came to my room except my wife to tend to me. My children had no contact with me and I was in between the valley of shadow of death.

Then the idea came that I should take some sugar – malt, or fizzy drink to give me some quick energy. I went for a malt drink and then few hours later, I had puked everything out.

A hot basin of boiling water was brought to me to the room, some drops of oldbass oil was added to it and I was covered in my duvet and made to inhale the hot steam. It was like a little mini hell for about 15 mins. After the experience, I was drenched in perspiration. Did it work, actually I do not know but it did provide some temporary relief.

Anytime I had a temporary reprieve I would stand up and look through the bedroom window and over see the park in front of my house. Standing on my exiled room where I had been banished to, I looked at the field across me. A little girl was dancing and keeping herself entertained. Her daddy was waiting for her and she was refusing to trudge along. She was enjoying the fresh air outside. She was relishing this chance to enjoy herself. She knew that the next outing would be the next day and she would be stuck in the house with her parents and siblings. Creativity was the keyword now. Her daddy kicked a ball to her and she ignored the ball. Probably she had kicked that ball a thousand times and was bored with it. She needed something different. To her, the sunshine was it.

Basking in the spring sunshine. Since she could not sit on the swings and other items on the park due to the coronavirus, she was making sure that she enjoyed watching her shadow follow her and her lovely dress. A boy dived to catch a ball kicked by his daddy. He kicked it back to the daddy and they kept kicking the ball. It was their exercise for the day. You were allowed one outing a day. Their dog joined in the race for the ball. You could see how an outing in the sunshine was such a delight now!

A delivery van pulled up in front of a house opposite mine. The driver hopped out and opened the van, brought out a parcel and walked over to the door. He dropped the parcel at the front door and rang the door bell and stepped back. The front door opened a few moments later and closed. A lady re-opened the door wearing gloves. She grabbed the item inside and closed her door. It seemed very surreal to
me. I went back to my confine, my bed and laid down and covered myself up.

What day was it? What time was it? I had lost track of it.

I would manage to peep into my phone once a while and see tons of messages and missed calls. It didn’t mean a single darn thing to me. I remember sending out messages for prayers. People from around the world were praying earnestly for me - to pass through this ordeal successfully.

The news items were very depressing. The number of deaths. No of infected recorded cases. Casualties figures on the increase and people dying. You heard of a little 13 years old boy who died without the love of the family. He died alone and was buried alone. You heard of horror stories from the hospitals- healthcare professionals dying and getting infected. The other day we heard of the death of
two nurses – 38 and 39 years old with young families. Sad tale! We heard of a young nurse who had watched 8 patients die of the dreaded covid19 and she took an overdose of medicine and killed herself. She could not handle it. The other day we lost three doctors and it was another horror story. 

The thing was, you never knew where this Covid would jump at you from. Would it be from trolleys in the supermarket, would it be from sitting next to someone at the train, where exactly would it hit you from? No idea!!

Different conspiracy theories reigned in the air waves and people, being very impressionable got into all kinds of debates and arguments. Some claimed 5G, some claimed it was the race for superpower. Some claimed it was a deliberate creation by China in order to create chaos and turn around to make it work for their economic gain. The deaths in Italy
skyrocked, the deaths in Spain spiraled out of control. It was a matter of days, we knew Great Britain would be hit hard. Bang!! Things changed in GB. Public transportation changed, people stayed home,
people observed two metre rule space, shops adjusted to have minimal shoppers inside the store at a particular time. Shopping became a torture. Better be tortured and safe than be covidised.

Then the lock down came in full swing. The prime minister was affected. His fiancée was affected. Boris was managing to brief the country via video conferencing and was in touch with his cabinet members via zoom. Each time I looked at him, he looked more ill. I thought ‘Lord spare him. He needs to be  well for his unborn child. He needs to lead GB out of this mess.’ Then the news came that he has been moved into ICU. I thought on no! Boris stay  well. Stay alive. You need to get Britain out of this mess. Good will messages poured in for the prime minister. Then he stopped appearing in his suits and I
thought this is getting ugly. I offered a prayer for him and the country prayed for him.

The roller coaster of all the swings between the valley of shadow of death continued. Then came the cough, the fever, the phlegm, more body aches and distaste for any food. The aches were unbearable. At a point in time, I lost the will to pull through. Then I remembered all those people who love me, who were wishing me well and praying for me. I decided to ride on this love wings. I knew it would lead
me out of the valley of the shadow of death. Things got worse. Things got even more grim.

Then the Lord came through, an upturn, the vomiting stopped. I began to get hungry for food. I began to eat. One of those times I popped outside for some fresh air. Some neighbours saw me and thought they had seen a ghost. It was so refreshing. I never knew that going out for fresh air was such an experience to be relished. I normally go for a walk every morning and I never realised that it would become such a luxury and scarce commodity.

A brother saw me and thought I looked spooky. I entered the car and started the engine. It felt so good to sit in front of the steering wheel. I saw the birds and the squirrels. I saw the ducks in the ponds and swans. It was so refreshing. I saw the dogs in the park running after balls and doing a poop. My Lord, it was so revitalising. Then I was and am so glad to be alive, to be well and to do just the normal things
of life again. I am so thankful to friends and loved ones who prayed for me. Life had a new meaning. It is so good to be alive and well. 

But then, my heart aches for all those in the valley of the shadow of death, who did not make it. My heart aches for those isolated in hospital wards without their loved ones. My heart aches for those in ICUs, who were kicking the bucket daily and adding to national stats. My heart wrenched at the way these bodies were being cremated and or being buried without a single family member. I cried for those lonely fellas who do not have the love of family to rely upon at this crucial hour.

A peep into the news revealed more deaths, revealed more people tested positive. I tried to fast forward, to see, what the future held in store. It got darker and darker. Would there be an end to this world drama? What will post Covid-19 life look like?

Uwem Umana and a writer, teacher and consultant who has worked in three continents-Africa, Europe and Asia.  He holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Warwick University, UK. His anthology of poems Awakening the Troubadours was published in 2003.