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Lockdown | Diary of a single Soweto mom: When cases exceeded 1,000, I felt Covid-19 whisper 'you're next'

30 March 2020 - 08:27 By cebelihle bhengu
Life's issues blur as priorities come into sharp focus during a pandemic.
Life's issues blur as priorities come into sharp focus during a pandemic.
Image: 123RF/Niwan Nuntasukkasame

29 March 2020- overcoming the fear and embracing the new normal

We’re on day three of the national lockdown and have 18 more days to go. I must admit I was a little panicked in the days leading to the lockdown because I enjoy having the option to either stay indoors or leave the house, so the thought of being confined to my tiny space for almost a month drove me a little nuts.

But I can’t be in a state of panic this whole time, so I decided to change my mindset by accepting that, until we conclude this lockdown, this is just how it is.

It fascinates me that from the first day of the lockdown, I had the urge to resist it by going out to the shops just so I could socialise with a few strangers- from a distance, of course.

I’m actually a loner and I don’t go out unless I absolutely need to. My friends will hate me for this, but I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve faked an illness or an emergency so I could stay at home and watch Netflix. I remember running out of excuses once and  wanting to fake my own death.

Not this time. I genuinely craved some connection.

I wonder if there’s a psychological explanation about why I felt the urge to resist the lockdown rules, despite knowing that doing so could cost me my life.

The ever rising number of South Africans who have tested positive for coronavirus really shakes me to my core. This is serious and it’s deadly. I’ve seen a few tweets from people suggesting that consuming less coronavirus news is one way to ease the stress during this period. While I think that’s good advice if it helps people cope, I can’t be the person who consumes less news. I’m a journalist.

When the health ministry announced over the weekend that Covid-19 cases had exceeded 1,000, I literally felt it stare at me straight in the face, whispering “you are next.”

So, on Sunday I decided to dust my old skills and baked what I hoped would be delicious butter biscuits that melt in the mouth. In fact, I secretly wanted to outdo my mom. She is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time); I swear she invented that recipe. But that didn’t go so well. My two-year-old son didn't know what to say, and he's never speechless. I clearly need more practice or baking lessons.

It's still very quiet here, and I haven't spotted the police or the SA National Defence Force.

As I head to sleep, I'm haunted by Tobi Akingbade's thread about her near death experience with Covid-19. I'm grateful to have not come into contact with it, and pray it stays that way.