Day Four (4)
This is the fourth day of the lockdown and it is not getting any easier. The fourth day is supposed to be the time when we really begin to settle into the new routine but it doesn’t seem to work that way. The first day was a bit of fun. I received a video from a friend which showed two grandparents, parents and four children were all sitting down cross-legged and playing the ancient game of oware. I sent the sender a message of congratulations and wished him happy lockdown. When I called him this morning, he sounded a bit grumpier. Anyway, I wished him happy lockdown. He grumbled something and faded away.
By the way, how do you respond to the greeting “happy lockdown”? Unless this can be disputed with clear and unambiguous evidence, I will like to claim that I came up with that greeting. It is catching on. The idea is not that a lockdown is a happy time but that we should make the best of it. In other words, as the saying goes: happy yourself.
As I greet people with the new salutation, different people try and respond in an appropriate way. Some come up with some witty response. Someone responded with, “yoo, happy quarantine”, which was splendid, as quarantine rhymes perfectly with Valentine. Except that we are not exactly in quarantine. This lockdown itself is a strange expression. I think it was coined by the Western media to describe the situation in China when the government there decided to impose what were described then as “draconian” measures by an “authoritarian government”. Perhaps, the idea at the time was that democracy offered a natural defence against the “China virus”. Now we know better. But I digress.
The lockdown is different from quarantine and I have likened it to a mass jail term. Other times I like to think of it as a kind of house arrest. Yesterday, a friend described it as “protective custody” and we both laughed. The terms preventive detention and protective custody are politically loaded terms from Ghana’s history. One day we will talk about that. For now, let us say that the response to happy lockdown can never be “many happy returns”. No. Never.
Working from home; well, the fourth day has needed some effort to concentrate on the work at hand. We all know that working from home is not difficult when you are not compelled to do it. And that is the secret. Let us pretend to enjoy it and soon we will. I don’t know if you all remember the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence. To refresh your memory (although I don’t remember the details too), Tom’s grandma asked him to whitewash a fence on a Saturday when Tom had planned to go out and play with his friends. As he is reluctantly doing the job his friends come and ask him to join them to go and play. Tom would dearly like to go but he can’t so suddenly he gets an idea. He pretends to enjoy the work so much that all the boys in turn beg them to share in the fun. He reluctantly gives the brush to each boy. This way, Tom himself did very little work; they all had fun and lived to tell the tale.
Instead of moaning and feeling bored and sorry for ourselves, let us pretend to have fun and fun will come. If you have your family around you, engage everybody in the work you have postponed for decades and pretend it is fun. That is the way forward.
Happy lockdown, folks.
Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng
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