Diary of a soul in semi-isolation

Today is Day 7 of 15 and I’m in it to win it.

I am now 64. Some would say that I actually turned 65 when the lunar rat scurried into February last month. It is also March of 2020 and since last week, spring has never seemed so sour or dire for those who have crossed over the age of three scores. I’ve now entered the susceptible zone and soon I will be treated as a ward of the state, henceforth known to be eligible for Medicare.

I hesitate to add the post descriptive of ‘Year of Our Lord’ because it feels like the supreme entity has made it abundantly clear he has been pissed with us for a while, and has left everyone in 148 countries pretty much to face the virulence by ourselves.

Can’t blame him at all when we have all done such a great collective job of messing up, damaging and destroying what took him all of six whole days to create. Imagine that, the All Powerful needed a breather to rest and admire his handiwork on Sunday and we had to go and dirty it all up before he could say “millennium”.

Of course, I speak of the dreaded crown headed microbe whom I shall not call by name, in the dread that by calling it out I will be inviting its insidious presence past the flimsy barriers into my home and space where I breathe and live. I share the confines of my empty nest with my love and soulmate of 38 years. Our grown offspring have all gone from their rooms and not much of their physical aura remain, other than framed images of prom dates and high school football. We call them photographs. I have been told that it has trended into digital memes.

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A local grocery store Safeway remains open amid the lockdown. Photo: TASHI T SHERPA

In retrospect and in bittersweet irony, I am glad that they are not with us at this particular period of vulnerability. Nothing evokes more ‘sweet sorrow’ than seeing our grandchildren on Facetime twice a day everyday, knowing they are just two exits away from us, but an unknown time removed from our hugs.

For the past three weeks we have been playing a lethal game of grandmaster chess and dodge ball with the virus. The trouble is I do not know whether I have managed to outwit it, chase it out or it has just been lying still and stealthy into getting me to drop my guard, so it can outflank my paranoid sense of survival. I do not even know if I have managed to stay under its radar successfully or failing that, I am just an unsuspecting and asymptomatic carrier in whom Mr and Mrs Corona have just decided to be benign tenants.

I hope for the sake of my loved ones that I have escaped the dreaded red mark of the scourge and that sooner than later we will all regain our freedom to step into the sunlight and mingle without fear. But we are still another aching eight days into social solitude and who knows how many weeks after that.

Each day starts and every night ends with the obligatory but now countless routine of 20 second bouts of rigorous hand washing. Soap in, water on, rinse in and rinse off. Oops I touched the faucet! Start again.

In between I keep looking at my iPhone and iPad with forensic suspicion and try to gauge the efficacy of a simple towel wipe or a vengeful swipe of Lysol spray. All this, while I fight that irritating itch on the left side of my nostril. Hold on, I’ve got to lunge for the Kleenex before I sneeze. How is it possible that each simple physical action of personal hygiene has assumed an elemental importance of preventing the imminent zombie apocalypse?

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Meanwhile, my depleting inventory of toilet paper causes perceptible palpitations at every visit to the loo. Mrs Sherpa tells me that we need to make a run to the local Safeway for provisions and I counter that with.

“How about ordering them online?”

“I’d rather not be touching stuff and staying in a queue of sniffles or coughs and besides I’ve seen the kids get everything delivered, last week. Why can’t we do the same?”

Like two excited pioneers, we sign on and create our account. A loud ping on my phone says “Welcome to Safeway!” We browse, select, deselect, create our cart and choose home delivery for today. Almost as if annoyed, the screens says ‘Choose Another Date’.

We click all the way through Tuesday until we realise that it’s a fruitless exercise in frustration and nobody in Safeway has the time or the intent to deliver our grand order of $97.50 (after the membership discount of $2.75). So it is old school shop, bag it and bring it back for the two of us. We don’t even bother to take advantage of senior shopping hour.

And thus my seventh day ends. Oh, and I still haven’t started on that big thick novel yet.

Tashi T Sherpa is Creative Director and CEO of Khangri Sourcing based in Seattle.  

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