In our new series in which writers and creatives of various stripes share with us their anxieties and fears regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, Chika Unigwe, PhD and award winning author says “be careful what you wish for”.
And it was told to the people, Covid-19 has come to teach (us) these things:
1 The fragility of life/the world
This pandemic is a tragic reminder that the world/life is like an egg, Humpty Dumpty on a wall and one push is all it needs for it to crack. We live with an awareness of mortality and the fragility of life as we never had reason to in recent times. Every email – even professional ones- begins or ends with ‘stay safe.’ There is this sense that something major has shifted, that the ground underneath us isn’t solid anymore.
2 The best laid plans can fall apart, and you can do nothing about it.
I had trips and conferences planned well into October. Many- even those happening later in the year- have been cancelled. I’ve learned not to worry over the things that I cannot control, to take each day as it comes, to be kind to my mental state. It’s a reminder that we, humans, are puny creatures. There is something humbling in realizing that our sense of control is illusionary, and it doesn’t matter what part of the world we are in, how much fame and wealth we have, how well we eat. It’s a good lesson to learn, I think.
3 To take pleasure in little things
Walking the dog several times a day. Drinking loads of coffee. A hot tub and the company of family. Finding toilet paper online. Comfortable joggers and t-shirts. Netflix and Britbox. Working internet and zoom. Good books and power. Chinchin and peanuts from Nigeria. It’s difficult to take anything for granted at the moment. I hope that this joy in little things and the sense of gratitude for them stays with me beyond the pandemic
4 That ‘Forwarded as copied’ often accompanies the most ignorant posts/videos.
Fake news has always been a problem, but it seems to have got out of hand with this pandemic. I can’t tell you how often I get really silly ‘forwarded as copied’ texts, urging one to ‘save a life by forwarding.’ Most shocking, for me, is getting them from people from whom I expected better. People I thought were educated enough, smart enough, wise enough not to fall for anything. Perhaps, the lesson in this is that when people are desperate/helpless, it’s easy for them to fall for anything. Perhaps, I do not yet feel desperate enough and that’s why my level of discernment is still normal, who knows?
5 Be careful what you wish for
Frustrated with the state of things in Naija, I often wished something would happen to force Nigerian politicians to rely on our local healthcare facilities. Maybe I should have been more precise in speaking my wish into the universe. I should have wished for whatever it was to spare the poor, the innocent, the weak. To spare those who do not enjoy the benefit and privileges of the politicians.