By: Emelife Uc
She came to me.
She must have heard that I am a journalist.
She walked into the shop, my mother’s shop. A friend of my mother. Sat, with her legs sprawled.
She buried her face in one of her palms, used the same palm to wipe sweat off her face. She returned it to her lap.
“Auntie, what’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s this Corona o.”
Corona. She said Corona with a bitter loathful voice. Like he is an estranged lover. Or a man who promised her daughter marriage and left her pregnant at the altar.
“What about Coronavirus?” I asked.
“Is there like a vaccine for it?” She replied in Igbo.
I bit my tongue trying to do same. To reply in Igbo. It required going in details and I am far from adept in the command of the language.
Her phone chimed. She looked at it. It’s a call from her husband.
“Chelu! — Wait.”
She said to me. The minutes spent on the phone provided time for a mental translation to Igbo of all I had to say.
Or so I thought.
She ended the call. Placed the phone carefully in her bag, like not being gentle with it will take away the smartness of the smartphone.
I settled for English. My ineptness failed me.
“There isn’t a vaccine, neither is there a cure, Auntie. But there are some things you can do to prevent the virus.”
I literally saw her enthusiasm increase. It almost jumped out of her body.
“Gwam — Tell me.”
I did. Told her everything I had learnt on how to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Wash your hands regularly with soap but preferably sanitisers. It kills the virus immediately…”
“Gini kwanu bu sani gini?” she didn’t let me finish.
“Sanitiser,” I smiled, but almost immediately added, “It’s a hand-washing solution. You can get it in malls.”
I saw her confusion leave her and her visage unfolded.
“Avoid unnecessary contact with your face if your hands are not washed. If you want to sneeze or cough, cover your face with the arm of your cloth. Preferably, isolate yourself if you are sick…”
I went on. Listing more preventive measures. She followed it keenly. Painstakingly. Nodding at the end of every measure.
Motivated by the reception, I continued.
“Don’t go out to public places especially where there are crowds, so you don’t come in contact at close proximity with one who has the virus.”
Her expression changed. She looked at me quizzically like I suddenly stopped making sense.
“Public places? Make I no go market again? What of all the contacts I’m forced to make in the market? So I should keep washing my hands when there are many customers?”
She stood up. Walked past me. Turned.
“Uche, leave this one. The blood of Jesus is my sanitiser.”
This piece was originally published here on Medium.
Emelife Uc is a reader, writer, journo and an all-round literary enthusiast. When he isn’t doing any of the aforementioned, he would be found binge-watching TV.