• Dami Afam Ade-Odiachi

How my dad’s coping with Social Distancing

Three Arms Hotel Ikoyi. April 28th 2018. Dad's 60th Birthday. My 28th Birthday. We are twins albeit 32 years apart.

My father and I love each other like crazy people. This means our relationship is only wonderfully functional and non-abusive 5 per cent of the time. I think it’s because all I’ve ever wanted from him was for him to look at me and call me beloved; wondrous; amazing; fantastic; glorious; just for existing.

The thing is I don’t know what he wants from me. If I do not ask him I’ll never know. Living with the looming threat that is the Corona virus means that I can’t take our time together for granted. He has loved me to the point of psychosis and I have loved him to the point of idolization.

I must do it soon. I absolutely refuse to face the end of the world with daddy issues. At this moment, some words from the Cinderella Disney remake spring to mind.

“Have courage and be kind.”

My father, the beloved and dutiful Papa Afam began social distancing today. If you can afford to be solitary but you do not because you’re one of the people that thinks it’s “overkill”, then you deserve to hear what I’m about to say.

Everything we say or do answers two questions about who we are: is this what I want; is this who I am.

If you can afford to self isolate and do not, then you are saying that you are comfortable bringing death to your family and your friends as long as your crime goes undetected.

We cannot afford to forget that this is the year of the Rona. If too many people get it at once, health systems become overwhelmed - a moderate case of typhoid that would have been solved by 2 days in a hospital bed could become an invitation to anyone’s funeral.

Moving on.

Cash Money Papa Afam has started self isolation in a frightful way. Instead of lying in bed and waiting for the Rona to get him, he is renovating the house, starting with his room.

This could mean one of four things.

1. He thinks he’s going to die and so he’s preparing himself to do it in grand style.

2. Nothing. Self isolating in a room where one does not feel comfortable is simply no way to live one’s best life.

3. Is trying to anger me into talking to him... Something I refuse to do, as he is liable to call me a poof at any fucking time.

4. Is preparing himself for a future with things he likes in them. Very life affirming. I 100 per cent support his positive attitude. May he never get the Rona in Jesus Name. Amen. If you did not say Amen, you are a wicked, wicked, soul. Fuck you.

At the crack of dawn, he realises that he’s forgotten the combination to his safe. I think he changed it after my mother, dearest Mama Afam, walked into their bedroom to find the cook knee deep in Papa Afam’s closet clutching jewellery in his left hand, fiddling with the safe’s combination lock with his right hand. I suppose with the uncertainty that the attack of the Corona-Titan has brought, he feels safer knowing that he has access to his emergency cash stash. He summons the safe people to crack it.

After spending an hour in his room, he realises that he no longer likes the light fixtures. Tomorrow is too uncertain a day to right the wrong. They need changing now. He calls the lights guy who arrives with a new set of lights within the hour.

The punctuality of it is startling and unexpected. So much so that when he discloses his complete and utter ignorance about wires and fuses and general electrics, Papa Afam doesn’t flinch. The electrician is summoned with the urgency of a paramedic. “There’s a terrible, dire, life threatening situation in my house” I say on the phone. “Dad’s got a new set of lights and he trusts only you to fix them.”

And what’s dad doing while this is going on? He’s bullied the lights guy into joining the Safe breakers. “You can’t be idle on my dime.” He says. “If I am paying for your time, then it is mine to do with as I please. You shall be under the command of the Safe opener. A fool and his money are soon parted.”

While all of this is happening, Papa Afam has detected a leak in the bathroom that only he can sense. The plumber must be summoned immediately. My day has been disrupted and I am on the verge of being snarky.

“Afam, do you know that I’m trying to leave you and your siblings an unproblematic inheritance? Where will you find the millions to fix the rot that comes with damp should I die today? Your non-existent pay check?” He quips.

His Executive Assistant and driver, Super D’Souza, arrives on the scene. Super D, is a welcome presence. Papa Afam tosses a key over. It’s the key to the booze room. In the past year the family has had 2 weddings, 2 funerals, and a 50th. If Jesus popped round he’d probably think it was best to turn the wine into water. Papa Afam is on to the Messiah.

Super D’Souza loads every fridge with Prosecco and Moscato, Champagne’s less fortunate but still quite delightful cousins. Papa Afam looks at me and says, “If anyone calls me for a party, I’ll let them know that there is wine at home.”

At that moment I’m overcome with filial duty. If the old man drinks too much he is liable to catch the Rona and die. I can’t have that. I shall perform my drunken duty. I am a good son.

It’s 4pm and at least 12 people have been in and out of the house. It’s a scary thought. According to private briefings, projections, and analyses by the W.H.O, Nigeria’s cases are far more than are being reported.

How many of us are asymptomatic without knowing that we’ve become hosts of this demonic plague?

Be vigilant. Be safe. Don’t come over. We are social distancing here.

Happy Days.


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