Two months ago, I made the decision to move back home (home being Uganda) after living in Nairobi for several years. I had been ‘adulting’, living in that place that has taught me so much and formulated the functioning adult I am today.
Plans were in place, bags packed, mind already on the jet that was going to take me the one hour and ten minutes to the embrace of my loved ones. But like the very cliche adage goes ‘you make plans and God laughs’. This proved true when coronavirus was declared a pandemic literally days before I was set to take off, in a matter of hours a case was declared in Kenya and days later the same for Uganda. Airports closed as did the borders and just like that I was stuck with my packed luggage and keys in my pocket.
Social media at the time was riddled with memes about how Africans were untouchable by the disease, how black people could not contract it. Institutional racism also raised its ugly head once again with so called investigative pieces trying to figure out why the continent had not been affected yet.
So now here we were, life at a standstill companies closing shop, people (inclusive of myself) feeling lost. Lock downs and curfews going up all over the region nowhere to go and now forced to adjust to the new normal living life indoors.
I am a person who does not mind spending all day at home lounging, in fact it’s the very thing I crave when I have something to do. But I don’t know why it felt different this time when the government told me to do it. For some inexplicable reason I felt this strong compulsion to be outdoors probably in a place with lots of people. I am sure psychiatrists will eventually find out what this disorder is and I hope they name it after me. (Bradford’s disorder sounds like something Kanye West or Billie Eilish would have.)
Initially I was in distress, looking for all sorts of ways and loopholes to help me escape to my homeland. But the stories in the papers proved to me it was never going to happen. So as a typical millennial I did what we do best, venting. I vented and ranted to whoever could lend me an ear or an eye. Ultimately, as one is wont to in these situations, I lost steam.
Cooking up a storm
A week later, I started deluding myself that it would blow over in a week or so and I would continue my journey home. My mood and mind were all over the place I started to feel like a Gemini (no tea, no shade) unable to control my emotions. While in the throes of these emotions, I remembered how passionate I have always been about cooking and how therapeutic I had found it. So the idea came to me to cook, try all the recipes in my food folder on Instagram, all the saved videos on YouTube and perfect all my personal recipes. This was it, this was the time I was going to cook myself into a state of bliss and feed my cousins (with whom I had found refuge) so well that we forgot our current circumstance. That also quickly wore off, there was only so much home-made mayonnaise I could make, I had more home-made chili than I knew what to do with.
Catching up with the housewives
All my attention now turned to television, I had a list in my notes of shows I have always considered watching but never made the time for; shows that were just about to come out I waited for with anticipation and eventually even that wore off too.
After the recommendation of a friend, I started yoga I am the least flexible person I know but against my will and on the hunt for a new activity I took up some beginners classes online. Eventually even the novelty of that wore off too.
I have been in lock down for just two months but it feels like a year. After missing my sister’s four birthdays while she was abroad for University we decided, this would be the one we celebrate together since we would both be in Uganda. Again I experienced that thing about God laughing at man’s plans. My cousin (read sister as well) also had a second baby which I missed after promising myself and her that I would be there. I was consumed by the kind of loneliness no phone calls or video chat can take away; I just wanted to be with my loved ones.
It is what it is
I know there are many out there in my present situation (some of you probably reading this) my message to you is this, the times we live in are grim and the situation is very much out of our control. If you do have a higher power pray to them and have hope, channel only the positive in your mind, do as many activities as you can indoors in your efforts to stay safe and keep others safe, cook, clean, watch TV, play board games, read books, exercise and repeat even though they start to feel like mundane. Just keep going hoping and praying for change, I have no doubt it will come soon.
Written by Bradford Kamuntu
Mr Kamuntu is a public relations and marketing strategist.