Emmauel Agyei-Poku narrates his story of how he became the de facto health minister of the house, sanitising door handles and ensuring guests wore their face masks and washed their hands upon entering the home.
When covid hit Ghana, it tossed my family's true and tested routine, or so I thought.
We were a family who did things together. We ate together, prayed together, watched television together, and said goodnight to one other before retiring to bed. We even had a daily food time table.
You knew what you’d have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Routine made life predictable for better or worse. For instance, Dad expected us to sit together during church service, which prevented me from sitting with friends. To circumvent his rule, I usually headed for the washroom, only to return and sit with my friends once they took their seats. But barring such moments, we are a pretty tight family. Right from the youngest, a 3-year-old boy with an insatiable appetite for adventure, to the oldest, my 79-year-old father who defies his age. He still makes daily visits to his ailing patients at the hospital, albeit in a supervisory role.
When covid hit Ghana, it tossed my family's true and tested routine, or so I thought. My dad's age, coupled with his underlying conditions, meant he had to limit his hospital visits. But the old man would not have any of it. Relatives outside Ghana called to talk him out of it, as did my mother. But their pleas fell on deaf ears.
What's more, since Winneba, the town where we reside, was exempt from the nation wide lockdown and family members still went about their business, there was a need to adopt some measures to ensure we didn't jeopardise his health. As such, we no longer held hands during morning devotion and stopped eating together. Mum reasoned that while we couldn't guarantee his safety at the hospital, it was within our power to safeguard his wellbeing at home.
And with that, I became the de facto health minister of the house, sanitising door handles and ensuring guests wore their face masks and washed their hands upon entering our home. Another blow to our routine is the fact that I no longer watch football with him, which is devastating as we support the same team. Also, since we do not attend church anymore, the fun in dodging him is lost.
Grappling with all these changes is difficult. I constantly worry about my old man each time he drives his car out of the gate, thinking he’s probably just an asymptomatic patient away from contracting covid. But each time he comes back home full of life and vigour. While we remain thankful for this, we cannot wait for things to go back to normal for us to hold hands again and partake in activities together.
Emmauel Agyei-Poku, Ghana