Written by: Qasim Oyèkọ́lá
Theories have emerged on what could have been the sources of COVID-19. Some are of the opinion that it was a deliberate attempt by some super-powers to subjugate the world; hence, they fashioned and unleashed a bio-weapon. To others, the deadly virus was a laboratory accident: that it stealthily escaped from its confinement and infected a man and from him another man, then another still, till it becomes a viral killer that the entire over 7 billion world population is now scared of.
To some others still, àwọn ẹlẹ́nu-ma-rì-mà-jẹ (lit: those who make no choice of food) started it all. Those who love to eat anything but their faeces consumed some animals that are the natural hosts of the virus. Whatever or whichever was its source, COVID-19 is already here and the world is already feeling its impacts. The positive and negative effects of the virus are already being felt by all the residents of our global hamlet.
Many pens and keys have been exhausted on views, opinions and global impact of this Corona Virus. Many have looked at it from some hopeless angles while others have been optimistic in their reactions to it. We wish to join the class of the latter group through the door of our head question – Covid-19: Will Life Return to the Golden Era?
Assuredly, both the formal and informal sociologists who have been studying the patterns of our social relationships, our social interactions and the culture of our everyday life, cannot agree less that life before the COVID-19 #StayAtHome orders was not what it was about half a century ago. Life about 50 years ago was really a golden one. Those were the days when wives and husbands were mutually truthful and trustworthy partners and friends because they had more time to stay together. Irrespective of one’s jobs, professions or engagements, his or her mind would always be at home. Friends matter less than family. The children who were the products of such relationships had confidence in their parents to discuss with as confidants, and all were always at home and at peace. They all fulfilled what the essence of family is.
In contrast to the above, what order of life was in vogue in the immediate past before the #StayAtHome order? This was the era when the wings of both parents were flying high in the sky of materialism without looking back neither to the psychological or moral concerns of each other nor of their children. They both would leave home at such early hours which elders in our part of the world fondly refer to as: ‘ó rí ni kò mọ ni’ [lit: the early hours after midnight and before dawn]; and would return at ‘má tẹ̀ mí mọ́lẹ̀‘ OR ‘má tẹ̀ mí lọ́mọ pa‘ [lit: night]. The result: majority of the children became wayward and nonchalant about everything and everyone including their parents!
Again, the golden era was the period when ceremony of any kind would be taken simply and viewed as ‘what one is capable of doing’. Those were the days when the wit of our forebears: “‘Mo mọ ìwọ̀n ara mi’ ẹdìẹ níí fi í kómọ” [lit: one who does not overrate his ability slaughters chicken to celebrate the naming of his child instead of the usual animal] was the order of the day. Our parents then did not venture into what would make them regret their actions.
Prior to the compulsory #StayAtHome, our ceremonies had become ‘must-do-affairs’ whether the onínàáwó [lit: the intending celebrant] has the means or not. Every weekend has become ‘ceremony designate’! All the monies earned by families in the working days would always have ceremony hoses or conduits through which they would disappear. For them Ọjọ́ gbogbo ọdún ni [lit: every day is a festival]. For those who do not have immediate means to organise their conceived ceremony, they would patronise the Gbọ́múlé Láńtà Finance Houses to borrow on multiple interest. When the ceremony that had become a business of sorts for many is over, the lenders would start to run after the borrower for the redemption of the agreement. Away would then flow the borrowers’ rest of mind!
Again, another point that calls for fetching is an all-important means that leads to regaining strength, ability, agility and refreshments of the mind. This means it is RESTING. In the epoch between COVID-19 Era and the Era we refer to as a golden period, our lives and the way we lived them had become so tensed and hurriedly that we hardly find time to rest. Whereas the restless life has taken so much toll on the life itself that both mental and physical health were diminishing daily. Due to this, personal and communal developments have become retarded.
Conversely, during the golden era, much of our activities are scheduled with enough and required rest. During that time, a spade was called a spade when it comes to issue of resting. During the siesta time of any member of the family, no matter the status of any guest, he or she would always be told that the person that was being visited was resting, because everyone knew that cutting short the resting time for the person could have adverse effect on his or her health. During that time, even now in some sensible climes in our society, it is compulsory for students or children to have siesta between 3 and 4 pm daily after school. Then, there was no extra school lesson or coaching that would make the children remain in school beyond 2pm. Every parent and organisation understood that kò sí ohun tí àgbẹ̀ fẹ́ máa ṣe lóko dòru àfi èyí tó bá fẹ́ jí iṣu ẹgbẹ́ rẹ̀ wà [lit: nothing would make a farmer be on farm in the night except he intends to steal some neighbour’s yam]. That was then.
Life During Covid-19 #StayAtHome
It gladdens our heart to see that family values have been forcefully returned from their oversee sojourn. Wives have returned home. They have assumed their primary duties and responsibilities.
The homes and their environs are now neater than before. Mọ́ínmọ́ín eléwé and ẹ̀kọ mímu (lit: Beans pudding and corn pap) are the constant breakfast on the dining table for the family as against a small cup of tea and two slices of bread that had been the norm in the pre-COVID period. Fathers too have been forced to stay back and patiently tend to their wives and children. With steadfastness they now look at the school books and notes of the children. The challenges of the children’s schools are discussed one after the other and not in a hurry. The husbands now know that the complaints of their wives were genuine. The wives too develop more interest in the affairs of their husbands.
With the #StayAtHome order in the world, and especially, in our own part of the world where ceremonies have become like a second source of rest of mind for many, it is either no ceremony or a very limited chance of organising it. The old English wisdom: ‘cut your coat according to your cloth’ which teaches self-control and moderation has again become our proverb.
Today, when the Covid-19 has confined everyone to home, it is now compulsory to sleep and rest even beyond what one would have ordinarily scheduled. Who are you not to go for it, when you do not have anywhere to go? Those who are fond of reading would read and sleep while engaging with their hobby. Those who prefer surfing the Internet, do it until they find themselves surfing some strange lands in their dreams. And those who love to glue to their screens, when their eyes start to daze, they would take to having some nap and nap after nap. There is no third option!
Summarily, the emergence of Covid-19, despite its notoriety in the world, has actually come to refine everything about us and our life. Or, should we say that the Corona Virus has come to redirect our steps from where they have strayed to the right path that nature had hitherto put them? The good days of every family has returned. The sweet memories that husbands and wives used to have for themselves have been rejuvenated. The children now have the thighs and backs of their fathers and mothers to play. Now, there is enough time to take regular rest.
It appears that the prosodic poetry of Kitty O’ Meara (2020) that is already viral has reached us all timely. She writes:
“And the people stayed home, and read books, and listened and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still and listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced, some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently, and the people healed, and, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Our question now is: Will Life Return to the Golden Era? Are we not going to mend our social ways when an ‘agent’ of change has come to propel us? We hope our ways will not be like those of the residents of Charles Dicken’s Coketown to whom ‘every day was the same as yesterday and tomorrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next’.