Life During the New Normal

Sampson is looking down at the camera with a slight smile.

by Sampson Edowe (@Siriacy_Trust)

Life during the new normal” is being quite challenging for me, yet revealing. It has provided an ample opportunity for self-appraisal and introspection. It has also shown that what ordinarily appears unthinkable, undoable and maybe outright unrealistic is very much in the opposite. Such that I can conclude that at some point physical disabilities are not all regrettable hindrances but necessary limitations.

I am Sampson Edowe by name, 35 and a single parent with an amputated leg. Being a single parent of one daughter is most definitely going to be very challenging, most especially in the face of a pandemic. The current reality has brought along with it more discomforts amidst uncertainty. As a man who had being living with an amputated leg, I had already made some necessary adjustment to help me cope with my current situation. The adjustments had been coincidentally favoured by the stay-at-home rule occasioned by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

I have lived with my disability for almost three years now. The outbreak of the pandemic has indeed caused some changes in terms of my lifestyle, job and daily schedules even in my relationship with my twelve year old daughter who is still in high school. The novel coronavirus was first reported in Nigeria on the 27th February 2020. I could remember vividly I was returning from a private publishing firm in the ever-busy city of Lagos where I have worked for five years when the news of a man being tested positive for the virus was reported in the country. I was greatly troubled because I had read what western countries with even better medical facilities were going through. I imagined the worst as I feared my unpreparedness for the new evil was going to be costly.

The spread of the virus started gathering momentum in March and the first issue that shook my world was when the company driver that was assigned to take me to work was asked to withhold his services. I then had to rely on the goodwill of my neighbours to get to work for the few days the company kept running before everything grounded to a halt. The government had to enforce the city lockdown in order to curb the spread of the virus.

I had just paid my daughters school charges and my mortgage fees so I was barely struggling to stay financially afloat again. Battling with a nagging back pain that I felt was a result of the sedentary nature of my job made me feel everything was happening all too quickly. Having to cope with the adjustments caused by the lockdown policy has always given me nightmares. I tried to understand that walking about to get things I wanted was always going to give me difficulties because all along I had been reliant on friends and neighbours to get going. All that had since changed. Everyone is now trying to find ways to survive the uncertainties of the moment.

School had since closed and my daughter is constantly with me at home reciprocating all the love and care I have been showing her since she was a toddler. Though she is young, her level of maturity and understanding is rare. My married sister who lives a few miles away had been stopping by to help us in cooking meals most especially in the evenings but with the lockdown policy she could no longer stop by. I have now tried to do some cooking by myself with my daughter providing some little help. I had gotten a wheelchair to quicken my movement around the home and I tried to level every surface high enough to hinder my movement. This has help get around some places which hitherto I seldom enter like the store, kitchen and laundry room.

As the lockdown intensifies I tend to rely more on online shopping than I ever did before with the charges being at cut-throat rates.  Before the outbreak of the pandemic my company driver was given the permission to drop off my daughter at school in the morning where she was served breakfast and lunch before driving me to work. At work Id sent a colleague to help me with shopping if I ever needed anything. Sadly, all that is changed now as everybody is concerned about their own affairs.

With the graph of the pandemic rising daily I was among the first set of workers that was advised to work from home and was equally placed on a pay cut. The company had been severely affected by the pandemic and needed a little adjustment to stay operational. The pay cut has had dire consequences on my finances and well being at this period. I have already told my daughter that we are cutting down on the amount we are spending on buying cookies and also the money we spend on TV subscriptions. In addition to the discomfort caused by the pay slash is the problem of poor electricity supply which has hindered my productivity. I cannot work on tasks or ensure the timely completion of tasks that are assigned to me. As a result of this, I am constantly queried for not living up to the expectations by my employers.

My daughter who had been home now for almost two months now constantly battles with mood swings. She complains bitterly that she misses her friends and playmates in school to the extent that she makes it really difficult for me to be focused on tasks. The reality I face as disabled person is compounded by the outbreak of the pandemic. I can only wish that a vaccine for this virus be discovered early enough so that we can at least return to the period where we enjoyed the company and solidarity of others which the social distancing and lockdown rules have robbed us of.

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