Looking forward to another few weeks lockdown in Bulawayo as a retiree, in relatively comfortable circumstances and inspirational surroundings.
It has been almost surreal. No traffic, even in a usually quiet road. Enhanced sounds of nature. No planes overhead. No driving school vehicles. Even generators are mostly silent because ZESA promised power during the lockdown.
Being alone, except for my animals, makes coping with limited shopping and severe water restrictions so much easier. Heavy on my mind are those friends and acquaintances of all ages who are not so fortunate.
Reduced incomes have severely curtailed many people's ability to put balanced meals on the table for themselves and their families. I am fortunate enough to have some produce and fruit in the garden to share whenever possible, as well as sufficient funds to assist others occasionally.
Social distancing is a serious protective issue, so I only leave the house for essential shopping, which is available online. It obviates contact with other shoppers, and limits my interaction to the shopkeeper. All purchases are brought to my vehicle, thus limiting exposure to a potential threat.
Not knowing really how the virus is spread, how to deal with it in daily life, or not knowing who is infected and who is not, makes it problematic to make informed decisions, especially when reliable information is hardly available. People close to my home have passed away from COVID-19, making the whole situation real. It contrasts painfully with the report of the limited number of confirmed cases in town. This one was real, and close by.
During this lockdown period the community spirit in town, and especially in the neighbourhood, has been fertile and empathetic. Informative residents' Whatsapp platforms promote services like gas and fuel supplies, fresh produce availability or assistance with power and water outages.
Security problems are attended to by conscientious fellow residents in conjunction with the ZRP.
Bulawayo City Council has been understanding about the need for refuse removal and other council issues, especially water-related. Rainfall this year has been very low and water is scarce again. Since it is rarely available we have all learned to be economical and resourceful with water, and not take it for granted anymore.
The silver lining to this lockdown cloud is most definitely the way it has brought the community closer together. We are discovering who our neighbours are, offering a tremendous comfort when living alone.
It is obvious that many people of all ages have elevated stress levels trying to deal with what life is throwing at them during these times. Assisting wherever possible is selfishly comforting and helps me maintain my balance and preserve my inner peace.
With the help of family, fellow residents and friends we shall overcome this period that has brought us resilience, creativity and introspection. Compared with many other parts of the world, we have been spared the worst so far. For that I am grateful.