The nationwide lockdown has put a tremendous amount of stress on many South Africans, myself included. For some people, this lockdown might be a good thing. Some people may have needed this time to rest and reflect on their lives. For the first time in what feels like their whole lives many are able to spend time with their families and actually be the parent and not the provider. However, the reality is that this lockdown will have a negative effect on the lives and livelihoods of the majority of people in this country.
The lockdown has affected my financial state quite drastically. My last-born is turning one year this week and I cannot even afford to buy him a cake because I’m so broke. The only way I make money is to wake up in the morning and take a taxi to Johannesburg to go and buy tissues. I come back and sell them house to house. This is not possible now. Most of my customers are street vendors and tuck shop owners who have not paid me since before the lockdown and there is no way of retrieving my money until the lockdown has been lifted. I imagine the payment will not be immediate, so my state of poverty will just have to remain as it is.
I did not have money for winter clothes and I thought month end was just around the corner. Of course, I could not have imagined something like this would happen. Now I find myself doing laundry every day because my one-year-old has one tracksuit and one jersey that he wears with his one pair of jeans. I’m not sure if I can call his clothes laundry, though, it’s just little pieces of clothing. But I wash them every day because if he’s not wearing the one outfit, he’s wearing the other and that’s it. His grant money is in but I cannot buy him clothes because all the clothing stores are closed. I pray that it does not rain for more than a day because if it rains for just two days I’m screwed. He will get a cold and we will have to go to the clinic where he will be more likely to pick up the virus than if he were at home.
For me, leaving the house is a stressful journey. I go out and get into public transport to go and buy food when we run out. The drivers refuse to keep to the amount of three people in the 8-seater so the taxi is full to capacity. Sometimes it becomes overloaded because now we have a scarcity of taxis. I can’t talk or say anything even if the person next to me is coughing. I’m just scared I’ll be told to get off the taxi if I see myself as too special. I have no alternative because walking to the mall is not an option, it’s too far.
My mother works at a pharmacy so she goes to work every day. She’s the clinic’s receptionist, which means every sick person sees and speaks to her before getting the medical care they require. She comes back home to us and I’m not sure how safe we are as her children when her work is constant Russian roulette on a daily basis.
I have had no option but to accept the lockdown and what it means for me and my family. I have adjusted to staying at home and doing nothing that will financially benefit my family. I feel useless and I started to think about my peers and how well they are doing. They probably saved for rainy days such as the ones we are experiencing now. I feel like the saying when it rains it pours is applicable to my situation right now. I try to be strong, to be positive and find ways to better spend my days but I constantly find myself worrying and slipping into depression.
When I’m not filled with sad thoughts I am bonding with my children. I started noticing things about them that I may have overlooked. For example, my six-year-old has gotten very good with his reading. My younger one I’ve realised his actually very good with his ball. He stunned me just the other day while dribbling with his brother. I cried because I realised he has a gift; a one-year-old should not be doing what he was doing and also I had no idea that he was better at playing soccer than his older brother. These are the very precious moments we miss out on. I am playing ball, hide and seek and other ridiculous games with my children on a daily basis now.
I want to believe that this will work but some of the things that are happening tell me otherwise. To what extent has government succeeded in really educating people on the importance of staying indoors? I go outside to get fresh air and people are roaming the streets. I see people in groups and I wonder if they even know what social distancing is, what it means and how important it is to apply it to their lives during this lockdown.
I have seen people joke about this lockdown and I feel that a little laughter is needed with all of this frustration in the air. We deserve a laugh or two but people should also realise the importance of this lockdown and why they have to play their part in minimising the spread of the virus. This lockdown is something new that we have never experienced in our country. We have had 13 confirmed deaths in the country already which is nothing when we look at other countries. Let us play our parts as South Africans, stay indoors, and fight together during these trying times. Read about it and stay informed so that you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.
Tell us: What has your experience been during the lockdown? How has it affected you?