I cannot shake your hand in these times of COVID-19, as you well know. I certainly cannot give you a hug though we both need for fear of one of us infecting the other with this airborne curse of our times. But I must greet you.
We are human after all.
Our humanity has come to the fore more since the explosion of this novel Coronavirus we first heard of in December 2019.
In being forced to stay away from each other in the recommended self isolation for the infected and their caretakers, we have discovered how much we need each other.
Not since the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, have we seen a disease that touches each and everyone of us. You have suffered. I have suffered. We have all lost someone or know someone who is battling the disease, gasping for breath and life and there is little we can do but pray for them.
As I write this, 4,086,966 people have died of COVID-19 around the world. In our Uganda, 2,286 officially have died of the disease. I fear the unofficial number maybe higher. I fear this because many a friend has complained of the familiar symptoms that hint that they have contracted COVID-19 and resorted to a self prescribed herbal regimen.
We treat ourselves to survive and many have survived.
Like HIV/AIDS, to have COVID-19 that is severe is to tread on a long road of trial. Treatment in hospitals is prohibitively expensive.
I can understand therefore why the lockdowns of March 2020 and June 2021 have left you, like I, depressed and lonely. We are not just losing loved ones but we seem to be losing our futures too.
The offices we went to, the companies we worked for, for the most part have shut down. The side hustles we hoped would usher us into self employment on pause if not completely collapsed in the economic stillness brought about the enforced lockdown.
Our children are at home, looking at us puzzled. They ask, “Why can’t I go to school? Why can’t I go to visit my jajas? Why can’t I…why can’t I?” Our answers are no longer convincing because perhaps we are no longer convinced this nightmare of our time will ever end.
The President said we wait. But we wait for how long? We have lived through a year, coming to two years of this hibernation.
I greet you now because this is what we are left with. Reminding each other that we are here for another day. Alive. We have survived this far. We can survive longer. I call you to remind you and to remind myself.
Be strong, friend. We will make it.