Steupsin’ and Segregation: We vex. But a contained and shock-absorbing kind of vex. Speculation, but nobody really to target for the blame, nobody to whine or complain to, because we all in this together and ‘everybody have a story’. A global pandemic, we seemingly entered the Twilight Zone, without even a ‘doubles’ to pacify us.
‘You can’t, hold, hug…. kiss your grandchildren’, one of the difficult lockdown rules to endure during this complicated time. For the most part, we stayed away and paid homage to WhatsApp and Zoom.
Aside from those who were soon forced to suffer financially and stand in ‘bread lines’ after barely three weeks, I don’t know who I felt sorrier for—the little ones who barely grasped what was happening yet digested the information and processed the enormity of the ‘rules’ with extraordinary understanding; the teens and young adults who were forced to abandon their schools, graduations, boyfriends, girlfriends, wedding plans; those who had to bury their dead with zero pomp and little ceremony and those unable to return home.
Serenity and Sanity: Not even dogs were barking in Blue Range. That in itself was a miracle. The atmosphere was akin to our typical abandoned neighbourhood on a Carnival weekend, deathly quiet. I imagined people would start playing loud music or children would make more noise. Nothing.
Gradually, my ‘camp’, as with many others, became very busy. Experimental cooking, spring cleaning, being part and parcel of the constant drive to distribute charity.
Prayers, prayers, and more prayers. I did not understand being bored. Requests for ‘Covideos’ of one kind or another, birthdays, anniversaries, or graduations. Not to mention working online and those who were tortured through home schooling, from both ends.
Still the silence, eerie at first but gradually enjoyable and peaceful, remained. Never so missed as the first day of Phase I, when a throng of safely distanced exercisers walked the block amidst loud chatter and a motorcycle roared up the hill.
Suspicion and Selection: Stepping out gingerly like Noah from his Ark, people emerged with very different visions of the ‘new’ world. Many discarded all forms of protection and threw caution to the wind. ‘We good now’.
Others remained cautious and masked but hugged their grandchildren. “Statistics show children don’t get the virus.” While many remained gloved, masked, and wary of worse to come, resurgence of the virus, 5G, 2020 microchip, painful to impossible travel restrictions and tiptoed out.
Safe to Say: ‘Trinis can’t form a straight line, lacked discipline, only think about themselves’. Not true! People lined up outside banks and utility centres like bachacs on a garden wall. The majority of them proved these stigmatic references so very wrong.
We witnessed the extraordinary generosity of our people. Citizens went above and beyond when called to donate, help and organise and obey the rules as much as possible, sullied only by a few token fools, well perhaps several token fools.
One theory goes that centuries of war, famine and plagues caused the progressive culture of tepid physical expressions of affection that is present today in many first world countries. God forbid our ‘distancing’ lasts long enough for that to happen to us.
We are a wonderful people, a faith-filled people and while our ‘warmth and hospitality’ in the physical sense will be stifled indefinitely we can pray and hope that it will only be for a short time.
We may take a while to revert to eating cake after a four year old has blown out the candles, but when the time is right, let us ensure that we remember, and our ‘COVID babies’ learn what it means to be a Trinbagonian, to hug and kiss, call everybody ‘Aunty’ and ‘Uncle’, relish the thing called a ‘lime’ and realise that truly ‘God must be a Trini’.
—Christine Mahon, Blue Range, Diego Martin