Hence! Home you idle creatures,
Get you home!
— Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, I, 1
Go home, gwaan a yu yard, find yourself at your place of residence, seek out your abode, be in your domicile. They say that when trouble tek dog, him find him yard. Home is where the heart is, a house is not a home unless there’s someone living there, home alone. So much has been written about the home, it’s a refuge, a sanctuary, a place to be in times of trouble, a place of comfort.
It’s good to be home, if you have a home that is, and if it’s a suitable and comfortable place for you to exist in. Right now the call is for people to stay home as much as they can to curtail the spread of this crosses virus that has overtaken the very fabric of our lives.
The call should be heeded, for if you’re at home you won’t come in contact with anyone who has the virus and neither can you pass it on to any other person. Staying at home means all-round safety for everyone, but it’s not as easy as it sounds for some people, for human mobility has always been a challenge.
Telling people to move from one point to another, where to go and where to stay is often met with resistance. Urban drift from rural areas is always a problem for most societies. This applies to even telling people to go home, get off the street and stay home. Plus, staying at home for any extended period of time does present a number of challenges.
Staying home, that’s where we’ll be today, right after these responses to ‘Corona crosses’.
In these troubled times we all have crosses to bear, some heavier than others. I am fortunate and thankful that my wife and I are empty nesters and have been so for a long time, as the kids have moved out, leaving us with plenty of space in which to be confined. Many people are not as fortunate, as we have homeless people on the streets who have nowhere to be confined. When one thinks that they are experiencing hardship during this COVID-19 crisis, there are those who are experiencing it even harder. Let’s hope that we can get back to some normalcy very soon.
Crosses is really what’s taking us now, and it comes in all forms. Who would have thought that the world would have been brought to its knees in a few short weeks by a virus? Big and small countries are crumbling and every single human being is affected in one way or another. Some people expected some sort of disaster to befall the world, such as a tsunami, earthquake or even war, but didn’t anticipate a modern-day plague to make mankind quake in its boots. All we can do is hope that it goes away soon.
I remember as a young boy growing up in Harbour View, the worst thing that you could do to me was tell me to stay at home, especially during the summer holidays. Oh how we used to be on the streets, playing football, cricket, going to bird bush, riding my bicycle to Port Royal or St Thomas, riding my home-made skateboard. The wind blowing in my face was exhilarating.
I learnt to swim at Harbour Head park, and spent many hours of the day immersed in the deep blue sea. You get the picture? I lived outdoors, to run road, and being confined was anathema to me.
Certainly I am not alone, as there are many people who loathe being at home for any extended period of time, unless it’s just to eat, sleep, and take a shower, then hit the road again. Conversely there are the stay-at-home types, homebodies who like to be at home as often as they can be.
But being at home is even used as a sort of punishment, as some offenders are placed under house arrest, not allowed to leave the confines of their homes, unless it’s an emergency. Well, if you have a nice house with all the trappings and luxuries of modern pleasure, being under house arrest isn’t such a bad prospect after all. But if it’s not ideal, then that can pose a problem.
Right now we are encouraged to stay home as much as possible, and rightly so, to curtail the spread of the virus. But this can prove to be a challenge for some persons. During the lockdown of St Catherine recently, I spoke to some of my friends and relatives who live in Portmore and got mixed responses to the stay-at-home edict.
One friend of mine, who is a furniture maker, was freaking out. ‘Lock up in the house with all the pickney them is driving me crazy. This is for lazy people,” he cried.
Another tradesman friend of mine rued the fact that he couldn’t get out to work.
My accountant bredrin wasn’t so sad, a he has worked from home for many years now, and his children are computer nerds who live on their tablets, so it hardly affects them. Yet another friend of mine cried that it was 11 of them living in the house, he and his wife, children and grandchildren. He was going out of his mind.
For people used to being on the road all the time, staying at home can be traumatic as it really comes as a shock to their system. This affects couples too, and statistics in the USA have shown that domestic violence increases during this time.
Getting out of the house to go to work is also therapeutic for many couples, as those hours away from each hour serve as a balm, a catharsis, a relief that eases the tension of being together too long and getting on each other’s nerves. “You a go tired fi see me face.”
Being together for 24/7 is not a good thing, as every little nuance is magnified out of proportion.
“Why you scratching your nose?”
“How many times you going to use the bathroom?”
“Do you know that you breathe heavily and disturb me?”
My friends regale me with what they are going through while staying at home too long. On a personal note, I got a jolt when there was talk of an islandwide lockdown a few weeks ago. I wasn’t alarmed at the prospect of the lockdown, but more because of what my dear wife told me.
“During the lockdown we are going to spend lots of time tidying up the house and doing things that were put off for too long.” Well, my life flashed before me at that prospect, and I breathed a sigh of relief when the impending lockdown didn’t materialise.
But I have friends who weren’t so lucky, as their wives have them under the gun, so to speak, doing things around the house, all because they’re staying home more.
“Man, these shortened working hours and longer time at home just give her licence to pile on the chores.”
Staying home with the kids can be a blessing or a curse, for many parents are not equipped to deal with their children on a long-term basis. Homeschooling is not for everyone and school was not only a place for children to learn, but also for them to get the hell out of their parents’ way.
On the good side, some couples are rediscovering each other as they spend more time together, talking, realigning themselves, and showing interest in each other. Even the act of sitting together and watching a movie on TV is cherished.
But for others, it’s a calendar of chaos. Day one is okay, as staying home means getting some much-needed rest. Day two is fine too. But by day three people start to get antsy, longing for the great outdoors, yearning to mingle. “Tis ever common, men are merriest when they are from home,” said Shakespeare.
Some men miss their outside girlfriends, some women miss getting together with their posse. By day four nerves start to jangle, especially if the people involved are those who always crave company. By day five, staying at home is not pretty. “I have to get out, I want to go to the streets, I need freedom.”
Now, all this is bad and not so bad if you live in a comfortable environment. So can you just imagine what people who don’t have the luxury of many rooms and multiple bathrooms must be going through. I’ve mentioned it before, but it has to be done, it’s a sacrifice that has to be made for the greater good. So whatever pain or pleasure it may bring, staying home is for your own good and the good of others.
Footnote:This COVID-19 must be the virus of all viruses, it must be on steroids. It seems to be one step ahead of all the scientists who have a hard time keeping up and are playing catch up. First it’s not airborne, then it’s airborne, then it attacks the lungs, but now attacks the heart and kidneys also. Then it causes blood clots and strokes in some people with others even getting lesions on their feet and pink eye. Is wha dis pon we Fadda?
Scientists say that it will be with mankind for a long time and are expecting a second wave to hit the USA in the Fall. I watched the movie Contagion made in 2011 and the parallels to what’s happening now are eerily frightening. Life does imitate art. Check it out.
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