Last year I wrote this ‘essay’ to submit to a writing competition that was organised around the theme ‘personal Covid-19 lockdown experience’. Perhaps too flowery and too difficult to read and badly written; or even not at all prosaic, which is how an essay should be written — this piece was not chosen. Nevermind, I am posting it here on my blog, which is a personal ‘essay’ that describes the emotions that I went through during that tough and frightening time, where perhaps you’ll find it scarry how the feelings described seem vivid and palpable here.
A Period Of Intense Reflection
Perhaps I felt it since months ago — that strange feeling that something bad was about to happen. I felt disaster creeping through my veins, while my mind carried dreams of bad omens. Even the rain, the wind, and the chant of birds seemed then to me ferocious, ill at eased, with bruised voices whispering in my head that gloomy days were hungrily approaching. There was even a heavy weight weighing on my habitual feathery heart, but I just couldn’t put words on it. Now thinking about it all, I should have seen it coming . . . the tears, the blues, these emotional disasters, the fear, the paranoia, the lock down, and all these deaths — oh so many deaths. I should have learned to read the signs — all of these changes that operated in our field of aliveness, and perhaps, forced myself to conceive the inconceivable. But my mind couldn’t make sense of these augural molecules that fluttered around. But then, what could I have done, beside trying to survive amidst the hurts, the aches, and the paranoiac state of mind, which most of us went through at the news of Covid-19 extending its deathly shadow till our vibrant island.
During these first days of lockdown something in me started to shift, where I went through a radical change. Dark thoughts often took over, and I found myself drowning within a sea of stressful moments. You know, the mind endures so much, yet this heart of us tries its best to hold on to something that looks like hope. At least, that’s what helped me to keep going, to remain on track and not break down. I also tried to occupy my mind by continuing to make plans for the future, as I would have in normal time; to mold the future in my head so as to not be distracted by the tumbling down of it all, or even succumb to general panic.
In my head I kept preciously the imagery of a healthy tree with its colorful leaves clinging themselves tightly to their branches; though I knew that the leaves were infested and were infecting, and falling down to the ground, I resisted and fought with the gloomy ambiance that clouded my thoughts — with the death chambers and the catacombs, with the grim reaper and other angels of death, with the virulence of the virus and the fright, for in my head, I wanted it all to be beautiful. Beautiful like everything that I have ever known in my life.
Then, it was not the virus that I feared — not anymore. It was just the tension in me that aroused due to the fact that we were matchsticks stuck in a matchbox. Again, another issue that I needed to take care of. Again, another internal emotional disaster that I needed to overcome — those disagreements, those annoyances, my anxiousness everytime my husband had to go out to buy food, and everything else that got on my nerves like needles pricking my skin, my head, my whole body. And this time again, I was about to let the sickness, the ugliness, and the weariness take full control of my mind… however, my heart got in the way.
My habits changed during that lockdown period. It had to. Particularly in the areas of my life that demanded time and organizational management. All of my heartaches of yesterday were soon forgotten, leaving space to only the curiosity of knowing about what tomorrow would reveal, mainly after that destiny gave us such a harsh blow. And again, anxious questions began to trot their way in my head, such as, what about my children and their studies, and food and of other necessities; and how would our existence look like when it will all be over. I wanted my life back. I wished that everything returned back to normal, right before Covid-19 struck the world, before it all collapsed, before the awakening, before it all drowned under water, before it all cracked, before the fires, before the deaths, before angriness burst out, before the heartaches, before the confusion, before the fright. Before everything else went wrong . . . before everything else went oh so wrong. And I kept asking everyone around me why such horrible circumstances had to happen in our existing time-line. I couldn’t wrap my head around it all, and even made horrible nightmares where people were coming after me, extending their hands to reach my neck. These nightmares were so strange and horrific that once I even woke up screaming while in tears . . . I guess that our dreadful circumstances affected me more deeply than I thought.
However, I was able to overcome it. Always through doing those activities I like; indulging my mind into things I am most passionate about, like writing poems and stories, blogging, listening to music, watching movies, reading a lot — doing and thinking only about beautiful and aesthetic things. Always walking straight on that path, though how dark it is, and though how rocky it is; always walking straight, taking care to avoid looking in Medusa’s eyes, fearing that I might be turned into stone if ever I caught her gaze, or if ever hers caught mine; also, taking care of not looking back, fearing that I might remain frozen in the past. So I walked straight. And slowly, but surely, I regained self-control.
Fortunately, not everything about those days of lockdown had been about interior battles. It has also been a very enlightening period for me. I realised that I was running after impossible dreams, for the oasis I thought I saw was only a mirage. The moment I made peace with that truth, casting away those silly elusive thoughts, I started to move on to other things. New doors of possibilities unlocked and I started to dream again of paving my way through.
It seems crazy to have come to all of these realizations, and made all of these hasty decisions during these past two months of being under lockdown. Yet, I am happy with the choices I made, and even feel more relaxed than before.
Thus I wrote a short story to submit to the local collection of short stories — and while writing it, inspiration struck my mind with new ideas for my next book. During that period of time I was more than ever drawn towards the want to write poems too, and to explore the artistic world more deeply. Have to say that my wish to become an independent fictionist-poet-blogger has doubled — though I realised that the road will be a long and difficult one. But despite all of that I must trust that time is on my side. I need to.
I also had the time to learn some cooking and baking tricks with my co-sisters-in-law. We shared lots of cakes and other little pastries. I even baked a chocolate cake for my elder son’s birthday when in normal times we would have bought it. However, because I had put too much cocoa in the mix, the chocolate cake had a bitter flavor, while the buttercream icing was a total disaster. But I’ve learned about the importance of balancing the right ingredients for baking a delicious cake. Next time, I am sure that it will taste better.
As a consequence of the pandemic, and because we were all under lockdown, my co-sisters-in-law and I learned how to assist and take care of my 94 years old mother-in-law. Touched by our personal care, I guess, my mother-in-law then insisted that she didn’t want strangers to assist her. Thus, while still trying to pave my way as an autodidact writer — which proves to be difficult, with many hardships, errors and trials and the lot, I accepted the responsibility to assist my mother-in-law while still continuing trying to get there where I intend to be. And this time, I decided that I will be less pushy with myself, trusting much more my gut feelings, all the while learning to live in serenity and acceptance. Furthermore, I also took the decision to stop complicating things more than I should; trusting that everything is working out fine for me.
Thus, the Covid-19 experience has proved to be quite positive for me, a period of intense reflection where I’ve learned to accept these things that I can’t change. For sure, if that period of pause didn’t happen, I would have never taken a break — I would have continued to bang my head against the wall. My eternal frustrations, erratic behaviors, stress, and episodic paranoia then eased magically. I saw my life under a new daylight, and found myself again. And though I am starting all over, I am confident that I will do things differently, at least I’ll try my best to do so, for new beginnings have always been the main fuel behind my motivation and enthusiasm.
PS: So that I might improve my writing skills, practical criticism about this ‘essay’ is more than welcome here. Thank you in advance.