A car pulls up in front of me and a familiar voice calls out, “Hello Chits, what are you up to?” It is Sandy and his wife. It has been a while since I’ve seen him. I am in the middle of pulling out overgrown weeds from the roadside grass verge just outside my house. The grass seeds, which the council team sowed as the final item of their street makeover session, seem to have disappeared. The birds ate them before they could flourish and now the weeds are thriving. I come up with some lame excuse, “it was too nice a day to sit indoors” I babble. Sandy is on his way to the golf course. He looks like he has put on a bit of weight and is regrowing his beard. Masks won’t work over beards, does he not know, I want to ask but I don’t. I’m just glad to see him. The elderly couple who stopped the other day to chat also stop when they see me and we catch up where we left off. “It is a bank holiday Monday and where is the rain hiding?” he asks jokingly, reminding me of past bank holiday weekend experiences. “Exactly, the lovely days are passing me by and I cannot take the grandkids out”, I grumble. They smile and walk on.
Spring is slowly edging its way out and summer is almost knocking at our doorsteps. My walks have been moved to earlier slots each time I go out so that I can get back before the day gets too hot. My timings are slipping but I realise that there is no point in competing with myself. It is the time to marvel at pretty gardens filled with eye catching blooms, buzzing bumble bees which have come to feast on them, flittering butterflies and the goldfinches who slowed down for me to check out their details so that I could google them later. Google didn’t disappoint, the small bird with a red face and yellow patch on its black and white striped wings is a common garden bird it says. It is the first time I have ever noticed them. Nature and it’s tiny miracles.
A distant crying child wakes me up from my thoughts. I can hear birds tweeting and talking to each other but I need to tune in to listen. It is also easy to tune out and just listen to my thoughts. I was listening to a podcast of messages from people all over the world who have sent in their Covid-19 short stories. It gives me a rough idea of how people from different countries and different walks of life are coping with the situation. Some have had to listen from afar while their friends were having a meltdown, unable to give them a reassuring hug. Others have found ways to entertain their neighbours by having singalongs from their balconies. Few are recreating their favourite restaurant feeling at home and dressing up for an evening of eating in but this time in style. Then there are those spending the lockdown alone, some finding solace in it, others cracking up and longing for some human touch. A common thread of emotions and feelings is binding us together. There is a kind of strength being born from knowing that we are not facing this alone. Some countries are doing a better job than others by holding fort admirably while others are failing. For us in London and surroundings the first wave of attacks have come and as they recede we await the second set of arrows with trepidation.
Some of the nurses and trainees have been released from the intensive care unit and have come back to theatres. The relief on their faces is palpable. Some cannot stop smiling as if they’ve been released from prison. They tell us about the gruesome time they’ve had, especially during the peak period. I’m glad they are back in one piece. Most of us have got away lightly compared to our Italian counterparts. I hope the second phase will spare us as well. I snigger when I see Mano disinfecting the chair he is about to sit on and Dinesh adorning the full paraphernalia of FFP3 mask and visor for his trip home. I shouldn’t be passing judgements. I must be careful, I have been letting my guard slip by not wearing masks when I should have been and not washing my hands enough. If not for myself, I should do it for my colleagues and for those around me. I shouldn’t be the cause of their ill health. I make a mental note not to be complacent. We are not out of the woods yet. It is going to be a long haul journey.