A woman once lived in a time riddled with much uncertainty. However, she still went to bed one night certain that the knot of tense muscles on her upper back was resulting from workplace stress and burnout, long hours spent hunkered over a desk for a faceless employer. The branding of capitalist exploitation.
She was also certain that the yearning, gaping abyss that stared back at her when she closed her eyes was the arduous task of introspection. Another of her certainties was that she was in love and that it was righteous.
The words from the object of her affections echoed in her mind: “Aah, the restless and clamouring privileges of Africa’s petty bourgeois.” He’d muttered after she had rattled off to him about her recently multiplied “essential service” work load. His tone was light and devoid judgement, just laced with a sagelike grasp of the human condition. It jolted her.
The woman who was certain about these things in the time of uncertainty, and her newfound lover, both glowed with the trademark splendour of their Motherland while simultaneously festering from her wounding. He, the child who stayed behind to nurse and advocate for an afflicted parent; she, the child adopted by a distant uncle.
She fussed and burned Babylon with an electronic fire on social media spaces, often complaining of a curtailing of personal liberties by quarantine guidelines, distress inflicted by cabin fever. She had also recently taken to railing and ranting, alongside her cousins of the inadequacy of a $1200 stimulus check. He listened and watched with the patience of Job.
When they were alone together but not together, via Facetime, he regaled her with vivid narrations of police batons and whips pounding and lashing on black bodies in their quest to enforce quarantine curfews. Curfews that snatched morsels from the mouths of hungry children and demanded the absurdity of those with neither space nor shelter, to shelter in place. His obsidian eyes burned when he described the stony silence from heads of African neo-colonial states in times of great uncertainty and looming health crises. She stared and gritted her teeth in boundless yet helpless fury.
“That word, it has taken over the world like a spell,” she mused to herself. The media was abuzz with it. It blinked with a vertigo-inducing frequency from lengthy government and organizations' emails and statements. What a privilege, to be faced with uncertainty only once in a lifetime. She had momentarily forgotten the starkness of her Third World roots. Where calendars, with little regard to geopolitical demarcations, jarringly reminded downtrodden peasant citizenry that a lifetime consisted only of three days: Yesterday’s Trauma, Today’s Struggle and Tomorrow’s Uncertainty. Don’t rinse, just repeat, perpetually.
Unless of course the children of the Third World, seized their familiarity with uncertainty as an upper-hand opportunity, organized, and revolted.
The thought warmed her like a lover on a cold night. Revolution had begun to blanket her waking thoughts. She was certain that while it had always laid latent within her, her encounter and interaction with the distant lover had set her on a fervent trajectory, a quest to consciously inject revolution into every crevice of life. Oh the possibilities! The inherent limitless value of grafting personal intimacies into Third World resistance, of cultivating honest connections across similar yet seemingly different realities, mutually accommodating vulnerabilities amongst lovers and comrades alike...
She was certain that being honest and strategic about endeavours and desires can be profound and deeply meaningful to both lovers and the movement to redeem the children of the Third World, in the time of COVID-19 and beyond.