The poor man’s wish in my country is for the rich and wealthy to have the opportunity to wear the shoes of the poor, live a day of the poor, eat from the shackles and experience life from their eyes.
That wish might as well be playing out. But………
The true middle class in my country are still basking in some euphoria. I say this, given the ease at which most of them scampered to the markets and shops, right before they were shut down, to stock up on food and other household items. In this scamper, was a tight calculation that ” as bad as e bad”, one month” and the scourge would be over and life might as well return to normal. In this scamper for food was also a duster, that cleared debris over verses from the bible or what have you for further fortification against this unforeseen force. This duster had come in handy for the middle-class men as soon as the calamity had for some reason befallen a select sect of the society-the the rich and wealthy. The middle class had naturally selected themselves as the next in line in this devouring virus, hence the renewed and frenzy adherence to any known defense methods that had priorly been ignored. If it were hunger, malnutrition, cholera, malaria, and likes that had a predisposition for the very poor, the middle class would have been up and about as nothing happened.
This one is different, it had claimed the rich and famous.
My middle class was still basking in euphoria as I have observed them from afar, all in a new coat of glow and extra fat, munching still on food and niceties bought only a week ago. They had accepted this new reality “homestay” as a well-needed vacation and needed time for rejuvenation. They had primarily put a mental note projection of a fortnight being the longest they might have to stay away from the normal hustle and bustle. “I am going to get super fat” I had one of my friends say over the phone. ” I have been eating like crazy, four or five times a day” she had continued. She had even wondered if some exercise regimen might work given so much food in-sight. “My butt is aching,” another friend told me ” I cannot do this”- I do not know how people do this”
This little vacation is different-it might be extended.
My middle class is still in euphoria. They had filled the jerry-cans with fuel and diesel, ready to binge on television, while ensuring uninterrupted power supply, garnering all the news in all available media, digesting a few whiles “forwarding a lot more in their continuous quest to stay on top of the situation, in a continuous bid to wish time away just as the world floats by. A renewed hope arising each time a semblance of a cure is floated, bringing closer to the end of an untold hardship of “social distancing” and one step to the end of an unmatched fear that this scourge might outlast the food depot and throw them into an abyss.
This harbinger of death might.
My middle class is still basking in euphoria. They had gone ahead of the virus and they had now armed themselves with vitamins, chloroquines, zinc, shear-butter, you name it. The shelves in the neighborhood pharmacies were all empty. They were all in the anticipation of a visit. If it were hunger, malnutrition, malaria, the cholera-my middle class would still be on the street, shaking and hugging, kissing and sneezing into each other as nothing happened.
My middle class still basked in euphoria as they all had their eyes and ears glued to the cable news outlets and now have imbibed a lot of the social distancing as encouraged. They had all become proponents of change. They have joined the upper class in advising the majorly poor to seek help or better still do the same. They claim “It worked” all from the confines of their fenced and terraced abodes in Lagos and cities of Nigeria. I had seen them brandish facial masks as trappings for the well and connected, with fear strewn still on their faces, buttressed by the notion that “mask might not truly keep death away” Death was lurking.
The euphoria might be short-lived, this I fear as I write.
My middle class had been comfortable for so long, with meager or non-existent representations in the healthcare industry by successive governments and had either turned a blind eye or remained mute and indifferent ” after all, they all had private hospitals and a bouquet of family physicians in a beck and call”. They would have been the very best to have formed a reprisal in the first place, denouncing and calling out governments when social good was trampled upon. The policies and programs in this nation had all been manned by the middle-class. They had been in these positions where their palms were constantly greased to look the other way, where their pockets were continuously filled with wealth, heavy as rocks- stifling movement in right directions, where the apparels of their ego are constantly changed to douse any shine that might emanate from the progressives. The proponents of change as we speak are now running helter-skelter, looking for little ways that might stop this scourge. Ways that they had sat on, stifled rather than see the light of the day. They are the ones, in renewed efforts, in dying minutes “had we known” berating the government for lack-luster attention and response. They were among the problem. They had accepted and benefitted from the way things had been run in this country forever, they had benefited from the largesse at the expense of the common man. Every facet of the economy was good to them so far they were not affected.
It took a little RNA virus to reset the nation to par, where the poor, the needy, the middle class seem to have a common fate awaiting them-death. It had united the people as chasing a common enemy and all lacked perfect arsenal to fight.
The rich, middle-class and the poor have arrived at the notion that air might be the only free meal.
The poor would be the easiest to understand this balance, given his longstanding experience of drought, most of them knew nothing of good housing, a majority still see good water as a luxury, a good education was far fetched, “what more hardship is out there” most of them would say. They were already used to going hungry, going without good health delivery. They were acclimatized with epileptic power supply and can go on for a longer time without hope. There was no timeline to an end to their suffering.
It had only been a week and the middle-class seems to be getting tired. There is no end in sight. The food supply is running out. The fuel for the generators is fast depleting. Sanity is on its way to getting eroded. The stay-home policy would soon be violated by a majority of them who cannot sustain the earlier stance. Their fenced abode won’t matter anymore. The hand sanitizers and mask might be discarded and they might as well join the populace in total resignation to fate- a poor mans wish
A fate that they have relegated to the poor forever, was now, a plate serving away.
By providence, the hospitals that had been left only for the poor would now serve the same for the middle class and wealthy- a fate never envisaged
A transverse view of all the nation’s hospitals and outlets would show complete dilapidation and derelict nature of squandered common good. The rich and wealthy do not have better places to run to or be holed in, they might have to stoop low to share in the available services of these buildings termed hospitals. They might, with luck, appreciate the extent of miracles that had been going on in these buildings. They might, with luck see what the poor had been passing through. They might, with luck swear for a rethink if they survived this scourge, to push for better infrastructure if given another chance.
With luck, they would all say “ Never again”, “ we would be better”, “ we would treat you right”
We would come out of this a better people I think. The poor man would have gotten his wish, however little, even for the fact that the rich also cried.