In retrospect and in bittersweet irony, I am glad that they are not with us at this particular period of vulnerability. Nothing evokes more ‘sweet sorrow’ than seeing our grandchildren on Facetime twice a day everyday, knowing they are just two exits away from us, but an unknown time removed from our hugs.
For the past three weeks we have been playing a lethal game of grandmaster chess and dodge ball with the virus. The trouble is I do not know whether I have managed to outwit it, chase it out or it has just been lying still and stealthy into getting me to drop my guard, so it can outflank my paranoid sense of survival. I do not even know if I have managed to stay under its radar successfully or failing that, I am just an unsuspecting and asymptomatic carrier in whom Mr and Mrs Corona have just decided to be benign tenants.
I hope for the sake of my loved ones that I have escaped the dreaded red mark of the scourge and that sooner than later we will all regain our freedom to step into the sunlight and mingle without fear. But we are still another aching eight days into social solitude and who knows how many weeks after that.
Each day starts and every night ends with the obligatory but now countless routine of 20 second bouts of rigorous hand washing. Soap in, water on, rinse in and rinse off. Oops I touched the faucet! Start again.
In between I keep looking at my iPhone and iPad with forensic suspicion and try to gauge the efficacy of a simple towel wipe or a vengeful swipe of Lysol spray. All this, while I fight that irritating itch on the left side of my nostril. Hold on, I’ve got to lunge for the Kleenex before I sneeze. How is it possible that each simple physical action of personal hygiene has assumed an elemental importance of preventing the imminent zombie apocalypse?
Covid-19: Both danger and opportunity, Marcia Chen