Footprints

For Cultural Hybrids Seeking Home

One Day in Jill's Lockdown

21 April 2020

5:30. Or is it 6? Wake up—no alarm needed anymore, because it doesn’t matter what time I wake up, no more pre-dawn leaps to get to the office before the traffic sets in for earnest. A smidgeon of light comes in through almost closed curtains. The sound of my helper opening the doors to let the tame life out.

Stretch. Knees over the bedside, and get up. Bathroom, of course. Realize I better take my thyroid tablet and drink water. Flop back on the bed and think about how it is essential to launch into the many tasks awaiting. Start a crossword puzzle instead. Knees over the beside and get up some time later.

Breakfast. Time to use up that gluten-free flour left over from my granddaughter’s visit in 2018. Pancakes with apple mango on top. Not bad! My helper keeps her own flexible mealtime schedule; half the pancakes await that time.

My apple mango tree is being bountiful this year. Not sure what to do with it all. (A few days later, it finally dawns on me that I can distribute some to the security office, for the guards who remained for us. They are very grateful).

9-ish. Exercise is really boring, but I try. 50 flights of stairs, up 2 at a time, down 1 at a time, stop each 5th to drink. The vain hope is that I will still be able to hike after this mess works itself through—in a year or two. Will I have the stick-to-it-iveness? The first time I did this, Bertie, the new rescue dog, accompanied me. Initially he was quite enthusiastic, as is his nature, but his enthusiasm began to wane and he started looking at me strangely. The second time I did this, he had decided I was obviously out of my mind, so planted himself in the way to stop me. When that didn’t work, he asked to be let out. He has shown himself to be a very smart dog.

I go online and try to get into MetroBank online to sign up. After a few tries, this obviously isn’t working, so I call. MetroBank, mercifully, doesn’t exasperate me with a whole string of ads for their services, but plays some rather decent music, and at a rather decent volume. However, the time I get to listen to this is rather a reach. When, finally, I get a person on the line, she actually turns out to be a non-robot, switched-on human being. Mercy, how wonderful! However, it turns out nothing can be done for 2 days until Metrobank deletes the whole first attempt. Not wonderful. I remain offline and unable to pay.

Meditate. Better than Panic.

Noon-ish. Lunch. Homemade broccoli and coconut soup with olive and rosemary bread and tasty, bitey cheddar. The first part of this lockdown, I lost weight. Things are reversing with a vengeance, as I find resource avenues opening up, new supply chains forming (although erratically). I move into scarcity mode, and stock up on just about anything I can get my hands on. And then, of course, eat it.

Cash is running out, so no choice but to go to the bank. My premier fellow agrees to come to the car and hand over the money after I tell him I am super high risk due to age. I am wearing a face shield. He wants to know why. I explain. Innocence abroad…

Driver is waiting on his motorcycle. I give him 2 weeks’ pay. On the way home I pass long lines of cars queuing up outside S&R. Panic…what do they know that I don’t know? What am I missing out on, here today, gone tomorrow, forever and ever amen?

Later, my driver texts his thanks (again) and asks if I will also pay him again on 15 April. I feel like crying… thinking of all the people let go, with no income, and of his uncertainty and fear as he sent the question. I text him that he’s on salary throughout lockdown. “Thank you, Ma’am, you are so kind.” I feel so sad again—this isn’t kindness, it’s a moral responsibility, after all. But then there are people out there who may be unable to carry their (now former) staff’s burdens.

Day’s end. Water half the garden. My one remaining helper does the other half. Bertie does his sprints, tearing back and forth in the space that now confines us. He is working off his high energy level exuberantly. The cats disapprove. A couple of them feel it their duty to stop him and lie in wait. To avert disaster, I intervene.

Dinner: fruit shake: guyabano (frozen), mango, banana.

Join my daughter’s online yoga meditation. Relaxing, results in a good night’s sleep.

Next day: Repeat, with variations. 

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Jill de Villa is an author, editor, producer, ecologist, and an ethologist-at-large