Casting off a Pandemic at the Edge of the World

Every day is the same. COVID-19
threatens to deal with whoever is careless—waiting in the streets, sampling
lungs to find one sweet enough to satisfy it. It obviously found too many in
USA and Italy.

I have been extra
careful, locked up in my perfect-square room. And every day, it seems, the room
gets smaller and I’m running out of oxygen. A friend advised me to stay away
from the news but social media has been a hive—every WhatsApp and Instagram
story contains the word “COVID,” “Coronavirus” or “pandemic.”

Aside the year being covered
in a fog of fear, I have had to deal with other mental viruses I’ve been evading:
the ones that have caught up with me as I remain indoors, scared of the world
outside. My friends tell me how they’ve dealt with regrets and demons: I don’t
tell them I see some part of me in their stories. Today, I can’t help but liken
myself to Max Vandenberg in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.  A Jew in Nazi Germany sheltered in a basement;
hiding, fear crawling all over his body, facing imminent death if ever
discovered.

The month of May is a
cabin that houses years of regrets and wishes, every year where I  recount things I have lost. I sit in it longer
than I should, wishing I could right wrongs and even bring someone back from
the dead. And this May of 2020 brings a cameo to this one—giveaway packages: of
COVID-19, a lockdown and little souvenirs of problems each day, based on the
colour of the clouds.

Click here

Today the clouds are hopeful.
Even Max Vandenberg had Leisel to cheer him up. I decide to gather everything I’ve
been running from and take them for a stroll. The government asks us to stay
indoors, quarantined, but  forget that our
problems don’t like being quarantined or contained, but like to exercise. In
the TV series Game of Thrones, Tyron Lannister describes his visit to
The Wall as “going to piss off the edge of the world.” Would it hurt if I  visit the edge of the world, too?

The possibility is slim:
scientists and geographers have proven the world has no edge, and to my
hardluck, there’s a lockdown with uniformed men hounding the streets, and I
need reasons for my truancy if these men stopped me. I remember Andy Grammar’s
song “Leave a Light On,” whose lyrics I once sent to a friend I believed needed
it:

 Tell me what’s been happening, what’s been on your mind
Lately you’ve been searching for a darker place
To hide, that’s alright
But if you carry on abusing, you’ll be robbed from us
[ . . . ]
If you look into the distance, there’s a house upon the hill
Guiding like a lighthouse to a place where you’ll be
Safe to feel our grace 'cause we’ve all made mistakes
If you’ve lost your way
I will leave the light on . . .

I invert the lyrics in my
head to fit my predicament: How do I man a lighthouse to rescue drowning souls when
I’m in that ocean, sunken? My father said a prayer one day during the family devotion,
after which I took the Volkswagen and headed for the edge of the world.

There are places we go
to, in our imagination or a place, that mend our souls even for a moment. There
are friends that are like cushions we throw our problems brooding no regret.
There are also memories, good memories, that we wrap ourselves in and feel
ease. Sweetness. Like the taste of sharwama and chilled smoothie  on a warm Makurdi evening, listening to a Jon
Bellion song.

Today I felt this
sweetness when I stood at the edge of the world and I saw my fears and regrets
fall off and disappear. I sat and counted the clouds—the sky was bluer. The
pandemic, I believe, is not the real problem. The real problem is in our hearts
and head. I should come more often to this place to take photographs and pull
myself out of my shell, towards light.


Adoka Adaji is a student of Benue State University. He is a writer, a photographer, a performer with Benue Poetry Troupe, and a worker with SEVHAGE Development and Literary Initiative. He is the winner of the Mad Dragon Spoken Word Contest 2017, and has performed on different platforms such at Sevhage events and Afrika-Writes Poetry events. His works have been published on Tata Reviews, Eazygist.com and Pencraftpedia.

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Persian poet credited as the spiritual instructor of Rumi, revered in the Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrīzī and here: Webmaster.