How can I unsee the hurt, the loss and the pain? I am hopeful as the number of reported cases dwindle, as we attempt to get back to some kind of normal through learnt resilience. Through this traumatic and stultifying, collective experience, I have enjoyed the freedom of dangling breasts. Wearing a bra is so 2019.


2020 is a year I would love to forget. Perhaps I should not and maybe no one should. This pandemic taught humanity a lot of great lessons. The lessons we have learnt and those we are still learning as we understand the virus better will help us comprehend why things never really change. Hopefully, future generations will understand the cyclical nature of pandemics, for them to be able to do more to forestall an outbreak of this magnitude. Every personal story is history foretold, given the scale of the disruption wrought, and how the threat of infection has bent the arc of socialisation and hygiene in significant ways. For someone whose life is based on order and rational expectations, the pandemic upended everything that spelt security within me. It reflected how the unknown can steal certainty and revealed how life can change within a minute.

Before March, I had no idea being in the middle age is a pre-existing condition for a pathology and a severe disadvantage until the pandemic hit. Coronavirus exploited the lacuna of our habits and cultures by creating a perfect storm of reactions in infected people, leading to deaths of thousands globally. Before masks and hand sanitisers became factors of survival, I also thought very little of chronic conditions that can be managed with medications, like asthma, diabetes and hypertension. Chronic conditions have since become aiders of morbidity for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). For almost six months, for fear of infection, I am cooped up at home, living an unstructured life in my loungers and totally stripped of routine interactions that give meaning and make my every day fruitful.

An unseen enemy has made it impossible to have relationships exactly as we had before. While social distancing helps keep the virus from spreading, social isolation is decaying our emotional attachments. Are we ever going to shake hands again? Will the norms of social exchanges evolve? I had no idea how therapeutic a hug and an embrace was until the pandemic hit.


Sitting at home without direct social contact outside my nuclear family is the stuff of torture. I don’t know what to call what I feel, but I know it’s real. The coronavirus pandemic has blurred the line between what is sensible and what is unreasonable. An unseen enemy has made it impossible to have relationships exactly as we had before. While social distancing helps keep the virus from spreading, social isolation is decaying our emotional attachments. Are we ever going to shake hands again? Will the norms of social exchanges evolve? I had no idea how therapeutic a hug and an embrace was until the pandemic hit. Lockdowns meant to curtail spreading the disease has affected how we work, pray, do business, and socialise, with severe strains on family and friends. What does social life mean when we touch less, speak less, breathe through our masks and keep up with each other via Zoom? Through many outlets like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, we have improvised, demonstrated creativity and shown solidarity. However, as we rely on technology to communicate and express our emotions, can virtual interactions substitute real human contact in ways that are healthy? Isn’t play and granular social interactions with each other, our default state? For me, while I welcome innovation, these clever improvisations are starter cultures. A lasting fact that would stay with with those of us who are lucky enough to survive this virus, will have to live with a change in our mental landscape forever.

On the flip side, the last few months spent in indoors have offered me an opportunity to reflect on my life. They have also prompted a reset. Like those of others, my world has been altered in unimaginable ways. Simple things like attending a party, enjoying meals with family and friends in a restaurant, have all become a distant blur. I have clothes and shoes I can’t wear and bags I can’t carry. Over the course of a few days in late March, it dawned on me that we actually dress to impress. I asked myself: What was all that struggle for when all I have worn for months are six loungers? Is it really worth it to measure our self-worth through the yardstick of runaway capitalism? The clothes, shoes, bags, cars and many more things we acquire to look and feel successful are really not necessary. They don’t offer happiness, instead the miserable index for the buyer may increase after the initial high of buying wears off.

Even though this year is a year missed, I have learnt how to make something of my life with far fewer resources and far fewer interactions. I hope you have been able to find pleasure in forced solitude and a renewed interest in the beauty of nature.


It is not all doom and gloom though. We all have the capacity to find comfort in our own curious ways. I have tried to stay sane by walking the sidewalk when the sun goes down, I have enjoyed communion with the pavement and shrubs on the hiking trail I frequent. I have thought about you, dear reader. I have looked beyond the fight to survive, beyond the fight to be normal, beyond the anxiety, to see the out-of-sight and the unseen people that are hurting. Even in my occasional melancholy, I know I am one of the blessed who can ride this out working from home, but so many people are hurting. How can I unsee the hurt, the loss and the pain? I am hopeful as the number of reported cases dwindle, as we attempt to get back to some kind of normal through learnt resilience. Through this traumatic and stultifying, collective experience, I have enjoyed the freedom of dangling breasts. Wearing a bra is so 2019. I have obtained a break from trips to the salon to wax my brow, or have a pedicure.

Even though this year is a year missed, I have learnt how to make something of my life with far fewer resources and far fewer interactions. I hope you have been able to find pleasure in forced solitude and a renewed interest in the beauty of nature. In the face of a vicious virus that picks its victims, seeing a new day is a win and survival is an accomplishment. Do not dare this virus, keep wearing your masks and observe social distancing. Stay safe!

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo