My Sweet Lockdown Surprise
Vincent Ochieng describes the joy and uncanniness of finding love and dating in the shadows of the pandemic
I had high hopes for 2020. It was supposed to be the year I fulfilled plans drawn up the previous year. It was the year I was supposed to start my own business, travel around, clear my debts, move into a bigger house and get married. I had big dreams.
And then Covid-19 struck, disrupting lives and businesses like the travel company where I work. My company slashed salaries and announced employees would work from home. Coping with a pay cut, which was just enough for rent, and watching my friends and colleagues go through the same issues was frightening.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
A neighbour who returned from upcountry shared sacks of vegetables with us, and another neighbour often enquired about my well being, extending an invitation to visit in case I needed company. Also, I fell in love.
I had met her before. In fact, a year before. We worked in the same vicinity and our paths often crossed at the bus station in the evenings. However, we never spoke. I didn't think she even noticed me. But then, I signed up for a ride sharing bus service and to my surprise she was on the bus. We exchanged pleasantries, and since the bus ride usually consisted of the same passengers, we became familiar with each other. We exchanged numbers and stayed in touch, but nothing romantic happened until February 2020. I realised I was falling in love and missed her terribly when she wasn’t on the bus, so I mustered the courage to ask her out.
However, we never went out on a date because something usually came up, and then one month later, Kenya went into lockdown.
With restrictions eased, we've visited each other mostly in our houses while taking into consideration health guidelines. But there have been hugs, I must confess, as they’re hard to resist, and I can’t wait for the pandemic to end so we can go out on normal dates in public, take nature walks together and or explore new places.
Despite the anxiety brought about by the pandemic, the relationship gives me hope of brighter days ahead and demonstrates that love and happiness can thrive in the midst of pain and turmoil. The pandemic has also proven that humans are inherently kind and good, having witnessed neighbours share food and look out for each other, and that we’re hopelessly optimistic, eagerly waiting for life to turn the corner.
Covid-19 may have turned 2020 on its head and put my dent in my bank account, but a reduced workload has provided plenty of time to reflect on the essence of life, what I want out of life, and led me to the conclusion that I don't need much to be content. With that said, I can’t wait to make the dreams I dreamt for 2020 a reality.