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Last Day of Quarantine

Unwanted steps, ones you dread, approach ever closer. With every beat from your heart, comes an increasing sound. You try to settle the frightful expression on your face, but as in every hopeless situation, emotions fail you. Sorrow spreads around your chin, tremor in your breadth, mucus in your lungs.

It is the last day of lockdown. Nobody understood why it had to be. Clearly there were still records coming up with NCDC statistics racking up. Even the most patriotic citizen would accept, with unassuming willingness, that a great seed of irrationality was sown among every Nigerian leadership. ‘Incongruence’ could easily have been their motto. How could they end this lockdown now?

You could only stare at the television as they offered information on what was to be a “New day tomorrow” and the effects of one of the most economic downturn in recent times. You cast your eyes away from the television to the chattering lips of two cleaning aids, then to a first aid kit carried away almost nonchalantly by a nurse. You had come on the account of Dr Eze to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), Yaba. You’ve been redirected from the reception to an almost empty office that looks more like a deserted room. Waiting.

Only ten days earlier, the whole place had an air of pestilence and of death about it; it seems, now, nobody cared about Covid-19. But nobody is not you. Of course you do remember. After the day of the bus hoodoo, your heart was left wandering with your components seemingly disintegrating. Self-isolation seemed the best option, so you took it for fourteen days in that small tiled room with precious little to eat after a mini-shopping with mighty precautions.

The temperature was ravaging, yet, fluctuating; Hot today, cold tomorrow. Who altered Mother Nature? The heat wave brought you to the ground by night. In the morning you were terribly cold.

An overpowering laziness gradually crept in with your body encouraging hyperthermia… and pneumonia. Like every other Nigerian with self medication tendencies, you went straight for the malaria drugs. The situation worsened amidst a mild cough. You feared for the worse.

In your panic mode, you dialed NCDC. They referred you to the nearest center to your location for testing, Yaba. To IDH you went, and got scheduled but not after series of inconsistencies, pushing you from one phone line and person to the next, changing schedules and venues like underwears; all the nonsense you get and have to swallow for being in a country, solely committed and determined to inciting your soul. Whilst your fever was rushing.

You never felt so dejected before. In the sample collection room that felt more like an abattoir, with each phlebotomist observing you all, who came for the same purpose, condescendingly, derogatorily. With hands tossed out and blood in a tube, it was time for the waiting game. Oh, you were not allowed to go home.

Oga, Room 16 don full,” a man could be heard from just outside the door.

“Oh leave these ones here, then. Monitor their movements and make sure nobody leaves until their results are out,” a phlebotomist retorted once out of the door.

You were fed that night and the next morning, an unwholesome meal, a meal nonetheless. Thirteen minutes after noon, you heard your name in the same sentence with corona virus and isolation, on the lips of two men you could only assume to be doctors.

“Why is Mr Wisdom still in…? Of corona … doing … get him o … he … no isolation,” came the distant interaction of mandible and maxillae that looks to be heading your way.

This was when you stood upright from your bed, fearing the worse.

“You are now reacting to a cold you’ve caught, somehow. But we can’t be too sure,” Dr Eze said from the four walls of the unsuitable room to a confused you. “We have to get you started on some decongestants and expectorants and watch you for the next few days … maybe weeks.”

Days became weeks.

And, here you are in that empty office, on the day the lockdown was to be the last, awaiting fearfully, the return of Dr Eze.

“Is it a …” You were unsure and cut short.

“Your blood samples are free from any significant viral load.”

Your nightmares were over in a heartbeat. But for the social distancing restraint, you would have gone for a hug, then a handshake. You looked on with appreciation.

“You’d also be needing a dextromethorphan,” the doctor said as he walked you out, hurrying to give relief to yet another burdened heart; and you pondering on alternatives to sleeping on bare tiles. Phew.

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