What is COVID 19? It’s referred to as: virus, disease, pandemic. By any name, one thing is certain and that is: it wreaks havoc. Claude McKay was a Jamaican poet. And as death after death became mountains, his poem, “If we must die”, stood dominant in my mind.
If We Must Die
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
The year 2020 was dubbed the vision year for everyone. We had great intentions and ideas to improve our lives. Some of us planned to make our biggest mark in life. We were ready to show leap year 2020 that no matter how it tried to lift its tail of usual woe we would be victorious in all we had planned. But just as we began our great expectations all hell broke loose. A new strain of coronavirus swooped down on planet earth. Nation after nation reported about it. By March 2020 it was declared a pandemic. We were told to remain home, wear masks, practice good hygiene and adhere to public health manners just like our elders and parents had taught us to do.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it uncertainty and fear as we listened to public announcements and updates by leaders, doctors and scientists. Fake news about Coronavirus and it's origin sounded plausible, I hardly wanted to dismiss them. Because according to a Jamaican saying, "If it nuh goh soh, it near goh soh". Which simple means that some of the fake news must have some element of truth to them.
As the awful behavior of COVID-19 took charge. People with deep cultural beliefs used remedies of old passed down by ancestors. I for one took advantage of my cultural upbringing and tried bush-teas of all descriptions. I used Jamaican white rum to rub my body here and there and dab the tongue with a small amount just for taste, or clear my throat according to the old time people. I increased my intake of lime, ginger, lemon, turmeric, garlic and onion. The remedies didn’t hurt me as a child, they did more good than harm so why not try them. And especially since they said that the coronavirus carried symptoms like the flu those were perfect choices.
The COVID-19 pandemic took me back to basics in true Jamaican fashion. Items for use against germs were imperative: Carbolic soap, dettol soap, liquid dettol, bay rum, and rubbing alcohol. There was one old fashioned germ fighting item that wasn’t available and that was jeyes. I recall my parents used to wash my siblings and I bodies in tepid jeyes water when we rolled around in dirt. God forbid if we had picked up any germs in the form of a scratch-mark, bump or pimple, the germs would be nipped in the bud. Not get out of hand. When I had my children, I also washed their bodies with the same jeyes formula if I suspected they had mingled with any germs. Jeyes was also used to disinfect floors too. Jeyes was a big deal disinfectant for domestic animals, floors and humans.
It’s weird that I should have written this piece in the past tense as if COVID-19 is gone. It’s still on planet earth doing its ugly and desperate visits. On Sunday, April 26, 2020, it robbed me of a dear sibling, a brother, Norman Washington Fitz-Herbert Dunkley aka Sloopy. He was a resident of the United States of America and a Jamaican citizen. With an already frail body beaten by Parkinson’s and lying in a Nursing Home, COVID-19 seized the opportunity to prey on him. Don’t forget that people with underlying conditions stand less chance of surviving the ordeal. So it was easy when it attacked him. COVID-19 robbed my other siblings of a brother too. He was witty, comical, intelligent and a charmer. COVID-19 robbed his children too. It robbed his grandchildren too. It robbed his nieces and nephews too. It robbed his family, relatives and friends too. You name it! COVID-19 didn’t care. It took friends, neighbors, strangers, a friend of a friend. It even took my Primary Care Physician as he worked on the front-line.
It is with hope that COVID-19 goes away, RIGHT NOW! No more lingering. Go away destroyer and evil! GO! ENOUGH!
Tah-tah! Exercise Care: Wear Masks. Cover Coughs and Sneezes. Wash hands. Let all the good prevail among us.
Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2020