It is exactly 9:00 am as I jot this piece of literature and I am not quite certain which story of my confinement will be shared with you. Wait. Why don’t I narrate to you the story of a quarantine session from a firstborn son’s experience? I had a feeling that my lowly boring self had something to tell. Ready to hear it?
We are at the beginning of the pandemic. My heart is melting. Not from any love affair but from paranoia. The virus is all over. People are dying. The news is being avoided like the Plague (coincidence right?) I am convinced that this might actually be the bus stop of life. “Are we there yet?” “Yes. The journey is over.” I try to cry but I cannot. Not because men do not cry (as if I am one) but because I knew that even if I did cry, would it stop the reckoning?
Fast forward a month later and something happened that changed my world completely. The news that we all perceived as a joke. “Hello. I hope this finds you well. This is to inform you that online classes will commence on…” Ah! Why? My recondite fury was not one to be tamed. “What is wrong with this institution? Is education all they care about? Can’t they even check on us?” My mind was a living rebellion. Strathmore University popularly known as ‘Stressmore’ was the one thing I resented. Not the school itself but the mental and emotional baggage it put on me. Did I say baggage? I meant bondage because I felt chained. Chained to a rhythm I did not go by.
All I can remember was that the following week was a happy one for Zoom’s executives for that was the main tool of survival. One particular thing that was rather rib cracking was the fact that despite it being an online session, the dreaded 8:00 am curfew was still observed. Those lecturers were and still are forces to be reckoned with. Please do not get me wrong. Some of them were really nice and helped us get through.
In the beginning, I was timid of even skiving a class leave alone not completing assignments. Oh no! This was beginning to irritate my rebellious self. “Come on Emmanuel…You don’t need to attend those classes. What are you gaining? Can’t you teach yourself? Is waking up early just to look at your computer really worth it? Who are these lecturers to tell you what to do in your own home? You have the whole quarantine to explore. Live life Emmanuel! Be free!”
Yes. Yes. Yes. The last word was just enough to possess my thought process. Freedom. I wanted to be free. Free from classes. Free from rules. Free from lecturers. Free from assignments. Free from anxiety. Free from everything! Without thinking for a moment, I began to dance to my own tune. The same way villagers would dance to a zither.
My 8:00 am alarm went off as usual but this time it witnessed the unthinkable. Emmanuel was not waking up. Why would I wake up just to stare at my laptop? Just to maintain my attendance, I joined the meeting, muted it and threw the phone away. I am sure my alarm is still shocked till this day for the “good boy called Emmanuel” was absolutely nobody to do such a monstrous act. This went on for the rest of the semester. But hold on. That is not the end of the story. Something else transpired.
My family members began testing me. Yes. I thought that school was my worst enemy during quarantine but it seemed that fate had begged to differ. I thought that I had witnessed the limits of my temper but my next of kin pushed me to levels of spite I only saw in movies. Let us start with my mum. She used to be on the phone and talk loudly to the point that I couldn’t even listen to my lectures in peace. Of course I could not tell her to keep it down for obvious African reasons. My dad was a short fuse. The slightest things could enable him to utter some profanity which were even worse than profanity itself. Even politely asking for some upkeep money made him spew ludicrous comments at me. My five-year-old sibling was my mother’s pet. He would disturb me and whenever I warned him, he would lie that I had beaten him or make my mother shout at me.
However, I have not shared something that really made me hate myself. Frequently, my own mother would tell me how useless I am, how her boss’s sons were better than me and whatnot. She had a point. I felt useless. Useless to myself. Useless to my lecturers. Useless to my parents. Useless to God himself. It was at this point in life that I had been experiencing burnouts, fatigue, and depression. I felt like a dying soul in a vortex. This made me reach out to my school mentor. He encouraged me and taught me lessons I would never forget. Two particular ones still lie close to my heart: Live one day at a time and Put yourself in their shoes.
The latter helped me understand my parents. Helped me understand why things are the way they are. Helped me digest various teachings of life. I would advise the same to anybody I meet. Before reacting, take a moment, and put yourself in their shoes. Before stressing about tomorrow, live today. Before wailing about what you lack, appreciate what you do have. Before feeling useless, find out how useful you can be. As I type this, I can now attest that I have created a proper schedule that enables me to give everything its own dedicated time. This is the only thing I needed to survive remote classes.
However, I dare to ask you: Are you happy now?
This article was written by Emmanuel Muturia, a BSc. in Telecommunications student.