LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

By Nii Tei Laryea.

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”                               

– Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

It has come like a wave washing over our globe, this elusive virus which makes no distinction of social status, or wealth, or age.

This leveler which prevents African politicians from seeking treatment overseas, and which permits so-called third world economies to ban supposedly first-world travelers from entering their ‘under-developed’ countries.

A polluted wave bringing with it the debris of quarantines and self-isolation, of shut-downs and shortages, of panic-buying and sheer panic, of rumors and health recipes; debris of debt, of death.

MARKET SCENE: Ablade Glover, oil on canvas, 122 x 152.5 cm 2019.

And yet… It’s very nature promotes, no, demands a oneness of humanity. Perhaps like never before, we sink or swim in this wave together. It importunes one to think not only of oneself, but of the other. You may be uninfected, but will not stay so for long if most others are.

You may be infected but asymptomatic, but will have to take the same precautions as the symptomatic if you do not wish to infect your loved ones, particularly those who may be vulnerable.

So it is that amidst the tragedies are also instances of humanity coming together. Of heroic doctors and nurses in Wuhan who after battling for unimaginable hours to successfully control the pandemic in their own city, get on a plane to endanger their own lives again for strangers encountering the scourge in Italy.

UNTITLED: Max Boadi, acrylic on canvas 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Of the expressive Italians themselves, giving free, spontaneous concerts from balconies for the neighbourhood and the community, offering hope and lifting spirits while on lock-down.

Of neighbours helping each other, particularly the elderly, with suddenly hard to get staples.

Of Moroccan parliamentarians and government officials who voluntarily donating a month’s salary each to the King’s COVID-19 fund, helping to raise $1,000,000,000 in two days.

Yes, $1 Billion in two days.

Even of a likely burst of ‘COVID-19 babies’ across the globe by the end of the year, with all these lock-downs and shutdowns (for those couples who survive suddenly having to actually spend lots of time together…)

PHASES/ FACES OF MAN: colored string on canvas, 90 x 86 cm, 2017. Private collection.

Maybe this respiratory illness, bringing the world to a standstill, gives us a chance to also stop for a moment. To breathe again. Maybe this pain is yet another opportunity for the rebirth of humanity.

This too shall pass.

This coronavirus shall pass.

The fear and the panic shall pass.

Unfortunately, so too shall the stark reawakening that whatever affects one infects us all. It shall pass – until the next warning, the next reawakening.

Self isolating Chamber III, Tema 2020.

Soon enough, we shall revert to self-quarantining on our own accord. Of our own free will, we will be isolating ourselves, catering to our individual needs.

At least until then though let us keep what we have been reminded of. We all are one. And if we are to spread anything, let it be the care and concern for our communities, for each other and thus for ourselves as well. Let it be the ‘virus’ of love in a time such as this

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