5 things Covid-19 Has Taught Me About Life – Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
In our new series in which writers and creatives of various stripes share with us their anxieties and fears regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, Abdulkareem Baba Aminu, says ‘free time’ is useless without peace of mind. Below are thoughts from the long-time newspaper editor, award-winning cartoonist, illustrator, writer, and poet. Ironically, it’s the Chinese who have the ancient curse which goes: ‘May you live in interesting times.’ And here we are today:
Things, and how they fall apart. I had my 2020 – professional and private – perfectly mapped out. Timelines for important projects at work, ‘warboards’ at home to underscore the importance of the earlier-mentioned timelines, and a journal detailing scores of personal targets to be hit. My friends and co-workers know I don’t make to-do lists; instead I map out meticulously crafted ‘must-do’ lists and follow them through to the letter. Trips around Nigeria, as well as Africa and other parts of the world were all planned out, dates fixed, and tickets booked. My year was, as they say, set. But along came Covid-19, and everything went crashing down, leaving a void that will be a struggle to fill as the world struggles to recover.
Now isn’t the best time to finish personal projects. I’m almost done writing my first novel, a speculative fiction one which I began last year after my car was broken into and my laptop was stolen, along with three complete manuscripts. I thought penning a new novel would be impossible, or at least daunting, but a story that stayed at the back of my mind took a life of its own and I began to pour it out, page after page. It progressed well, and I would work on it late at night then early in the morning before heading to work, or on weekends. I had a system, I thought. All I needed to finish the book was more time, I imagined. I was wrong. Now, with a lot of time on my hands, I simply can’t continue. Is it a fear of the unknown? Or is it that we, as a species, are wired to create when there’s a world to create for?
Looking after ones self is underrated. I’ve always loved to cook, and I enjoy receiving rave reviews from people with picky palates. So while I’ve been doing more of that, now it’s mostly for myself, no thanks to the need for social distancing. I’ve also resumed nightly exercising, alternating between brisk walks and jogs which total five kilometres, sometimes more. I also read more, which is a bit of an overkill, as I have always been a bookworm of sorts. It’s telling that I now consider tearing through my ample-sized reading pile as ‘self-care’. Yes, worry about others, but make sure you look after yourself. Otherwise, you won’t be able to look after others.
From the ashes a brand-new lexicon will arise. Lockdown. Quarantine. Rations. Curfew. I could go on, but Covid-19 – or Covid One-Nine, if that’s your thing – has brought with it a slew of words that, while not new, were not in everyday use for many of us. But, like I said earlier, here we are today. Also, now that our concept of the world is being challenged by a sweeping, unseen, and deadly adversary, a word that’s become prominent on my personal lexicon is, oddly, ‘hope’.
All that zombie apocalypse fiction – via books, TV and film – is paying off. No, really. I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction. And as any fan of The Walking Dead knows, it pays to be well-stocked. Water, food, meds, fuel, etc. And most of it is because, really, who knows exactly how bad things will get? And if not for me, they may turn nasty for family, and friends. Neighbours, even. Probably fuelled by a strong, innate dislike for not being prepared, I engaged in what’s popularly called ‘panic-buying’. The moral? Panic-buying is panic-buying only if you’re panicking while buying. But above all, what all that has taught me, is the simple maxim: Be prepared.