Marlon Miller

Day 7/Sunday March 22

It was my first day obeying what had been preached since the Monday before—stay at home.

Around 1.50 p.m., after an hour and 35 minutes preparing the perfect omelette, it was cut in half, put on a plate and taken to the table on the porch. I went back into the kitchen for a napkin, washed a knife and fork, and headed to my culinary masterpiece.

As I went through the doorway, there hovering over my brunch plopped all over the floor was Brandi, who had been lazing under the couch just moments before. It was the best Sunday meal she ever had.

And that was the lowlight of my first day on lockdown. I figured it must have been a form of punishment for not observing the protocols and doing my best to protect my octogenarian parents and my 20-something-year-old daughter, who has been very disciplined in keeping herself at home while I traipsed around the place.

It took me a while to figure out that this is no joke and I just have to hope it’s not too late, well aware that people in China and Italy didn’t get a second chance.

Younger daughter Lauren has taken up sewing, having voluntarily closed down her massage therapy studio; a friend started growing weed in all the spare time on his already idle hands; and a girlfriend bought a bicycle to pedal away the hours of solitude and sacrifice, worried about her employer having quickly removed some of her allowances while she works from home.

Someone said we can listen to the birds flying overhead now that all manner of aircraft has been grounded. But what will the pilots listen to, far less the men and women on the tarmac and in almost every form of work which is slowly grinding to a halt. While people like me flout the guidelines and get upset over a dog eating my meal, with many not knowing where their next one is coming from.

I may be flippant but I’m not nearly as bad as the professional preachers who are insisting their flocks attend the next service, not needing to remind their devoted to walk with their usual donation for the collection box, although telling them to bring along the sick and the lame, the maimed and the blind.

At least my conscience pricked me when I was in the Play Whe line last week, even though practicing social distancing from the other players, knowing that the change going back in my pocket might be infected. So I’ll try not to go back there in a hurry, despite NLCB having money for me from “Big House” on Saturday night.

But if I don’t collect those winnings, I’ll have to head to the nearest ATM, which may be just as covered in the virus, leaving me with a tough decision, while others less fortunate have to decide whether to spend their last dollar on bread or water.

So that this column isn’t totally useless, that’s a gentle prod to the bottled water people to consider donating some of their products in places where WASA doesn’t reach.

My daughter at home doesn’t usually read the columns but I still shouldn’t disclose here how much I got around on Saturday afternoon, the day before I finally decided to keep my tail inside, as Lauren might lock me out if I manage to make it through the next two weeks. Or at the very least tell me in no uncertain terms what a “covidiot” I am.

But I could say that I took the girl with the new bike, purchased in Woodbrook, to also spend some money in Aranjuez, buying seedlings for a kitchen garden, doing our small part to keep the local economy from grinding to a halt.

There were a few other customers around—yes Lauren, I kept my distance—and there was still some traffic on the main road, where a liquor mart, as opposed to a rum shop, was open for business and we wondered about getting some beers, until I conceded that it would have been another example of my irresponsibility to walk out of there with two cold ones in hand.

So I opted for food over liquid, and for the first time ever I got a park almost right in front of my favourite eatery on Ariapita Avenue, with the pub next door all shuttered up.

And that night in St Ann’s, three couples, seated well apart from each other on the open patio, passed their time with hot soup, wine and karaoke under a cloudy sky, the light drizzle failing to chase them inside the house, where they might have gotten too close for comfort.

Having turned into a hypochondriac, I dreaded catching a fresh cold, which would be the ideal opening for that deadly strain of coronavirus to move in. And nobody would feel sorry for me, not even Lauren, everyone sure to say I looked for it gallivanting all over the place.

Which reminds me of the abuse being suffered by the cruise ship passengers who came back to Trinidad last week, were put into quarantine in Balandra, and since tested positive for COVID-19.

While some of them are now fighting for their lives, others whose only talent is to dispatch hate via a keyboard are attacking them.

I guess those haters wouldn’t admit that we’re all in this together and it’s going to take a whole lot of love to get us through it.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

It is a well-established truism that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

On the basis of and in recognition of this reality, conversations are taking place among various professional and sectoral elites about how not to let this moment pass without taking advantage of it.

The action taken by the Government over the past two or three weeks with respect to control and containment of the COVID-19 virus, which has been in line, by and large, with the action taken by other countries, ought to be supported if we are to weather this virulent epidemic.

The T&T public is generally satisfied with how the government has handled this Covid-19 crisis to date. On the other hand, one senses a reluctance, if not open fear, to express a contrary opinion or suggestion. Why risk being called divisive or inappropriate?

Speaking recently in New York, the state governor, Andrew Cuomo, said: “The stress, the emotion, is just incredible, and rightfully so. It is a situation that is one of the most disruptive that I have seen, and it will change almost everything going forward. It will. That is a fact. It’s not your perception. It’s not just you. It’s all of us and it’s true and it’s real. Nobody can tell you when this is going to end... It will change almost everything.”

Nerves are frayed, tempers are on the edge, patience is dissolving. In any prolonged period of stress, the psychological toll is amplified. Even those who are generally composed—the Unflappables—can slip into a crack.