The clarion call ‘Work from Home If You Can’ was a timely first, for our government. The face of the marauding Covid-19 virus became uglier, still, when schools and colleges had to close.
The general mood in college instantly grew grave: Yaani, hii kitu ni serious hivi?
Well, its family tradition to ship to the village when school closes. The family home is also better suited for ‘Social Distance’. The epidemic was just beginning to show its fangs locally but we already knew the secrets to combat it:
Wash hands frequently with soap and clean water, or alcohol-based sanitizers. Maintain social distance. Avoid contaminated surfaces, or items. If been in contact with someone who’s been fore-exposed, practice self-isolation for a fortnight – and present yourself for tests at a medical facility.
However, my brother and I hadn’t figured out some few aspects. Our maternal grandmother, for instance.
Grandma will tentatively make octogenarian this Easter. That hallowed weekend ranks higher than Xmas, in her calendar.
How do we explain the national hullabaloo surrounding this new epidemic? She’s very affectionate – likes hugging and petting her grandkids, especially her namesake. Won’t she take ‘social distancing’ as mildly offensive?
She ain’t lost on the trending bits, luckily, through her ageless transistor radio tuned to our vernacular stations. But, still…..
In her 80 years, lots of calamities have befallen our land, including the infamous State of Emergency Declaration – but none banned attending church. Certainly, none led to closure of learning institutions. Actually, enterprising youth would enroll in colonial schools to evade calls to join the militia.
We did settle quite well. Grandma slowly grew into the groove, and found great amusement with the hand sanitizers. Though she felt odd squirting it into her palms after every hand shake, she got used to it. She also stopped shaking hands, altogether. If you have grandparents, you’ll appreciate how hard that is. That’s like admitting you’ve been doing it wrong for an entire life time.
The curfew brought some discomfort. Being indoors has been a new thing. Grandma has always regaled us with stories from her childhood. On everything, name it: the early Mzungu days, her courtship (mis)adventures, notable tragedies in the locality, et al. However, we’ve not had a holiday in the village longer than a week at a stretch.
I’m afraid our talkative Grandma is running out of stories to tell us!
For a decade now, the family has got into an Easter weekend tradition – it’s also celebration of her birthday. We make a birthday party and hand over gifts. This year, though, that’s not happening. We have to figure out something.
She’s given up all farm work, save for her kitchen garden – fenced with wooden planks – behind the house. It’s her personal space, a ‘No Man’s Land’. It has, however, lately been neglected.
We decide to gift her a kitchen garden make-over.
In town, at the agro-shop to get supplies:
“Got some DAP fertilizer, sir?”
“Of course.” Ok, wash hands first at the entrance with soap and water!
Organic seeds – coriander, ginger, onion, beet root, red pepper, Kales and lemon grass. A length of rubber hose pipe and sprinkler.
The attendant is, in the face of COVID-19 threat, avoiding cash like the plague, no pun intended. He asks for cashless means: either pay with your Coop Visa Card, or alternatively pay via M-Pesa straight into a Co-op Bank account using Paybill no. 400200 – both options are free of any charge. We use the Coop Visa Debit Card.
The main dilemma, now: How do we get a way to work in Grandma’s garden without her knowledge? It’s supposed to be a surprise!