By Nehru Odeh
Though still mourning the death of her closest aunt, multiple award-winning writer, feminist and public intellectual, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on Sunday, took to Facebook to motivate her teeming fans across the globe. She also said grieving her aunt’s sudden death has been made surreal by these strange times occasioned by the onslaught of coronavirus.
“And it is more surreal to grieve a sudden death in these strange times when the world has shut down, places once full are empty, heavy with the ghosts of silent gatherings, and across the world people are dying alone. Coronavirus is a menace in the air, a menace inside our heads. Every day I am reminded of how fragile, how breakable we are,” Adichie said.
However, Adichie also hinted on how the virus had made her anxious and uneasy, since she had to worry always about her health and that of her loved ones. She also said, in spite of that, this is the time to cope in the best way we can.
“My husband is a doctor and each morning when he leaves for work, I worry. My daughter coughs and I worry. My throat itches and I worry. On Facetime I watch my elderly parents. I admonish them gently: Don’t let people come to the house. Don’t read the rubbish news on Whatsapp.
“This is a time to cope in the best way we can. There are moments when our spirits will sag. Moments when we will feel tired after doing absolutely nothing. But how can we not? The world as it is today is foreign to us. It would be strange not to be shaken to our core,” she explained.
Still, the brilliant writer and one of Africa’s 50 most powerful women according to Forbes Africa, also said that the paradigm shift that conoravirus has caused in the globe has affected her work habit and output in no small measure. However, in spite of that, she advised that we must choose to live and set goals, no matter how small they are.
“I cannot imagine thinking of over-achieving, or of accomplishing more than usual, when all around you the world as you know it has changed, perhaps never to return to what it used to be. And yet we must continue to go on day by day. We must choose to live. And to do so we can set small goals. Like drink more water, if you’ve spent the past ten years wanting to be more hydrated. Like learn something every day, no matter how small. Like call loved ones – not text them, call them. Like help someone – with a small cash transfer, an encouraging message, a shared laugh.
“I believe in allowing myself to feel what I feel. But endless negative feelings are enervating. And so to manage it I give myself time to feel what I am feeling – an hour, or two, or three, or four – and then when the time is up, I try to push my mind into a different territory. It doesn’t always work. But it’s worth trying for when it does work,” she advised.
Adichie went further to say that in spite of the anxiety coronavirus has induced in these pandemic blighted times, she won’t allow it fester into paranoia. And what has helped her is the acquisition of knowledge – educating herself, getting the right information and be sure of her news sources.
“In these pandemic-blighted times, living with a medical professional who so far has diagnosed two positive cases, in an American state being told to brace itself for an onslaught of more cases, my goal is to feel anxiety but not allow it fester into paranoia. And what helps me is knowledge. The news can be emotionally exhausting, and can inflame anxiety, but it is important for me to educate myself. I am always careful about my news sources, and I always keep in mind that there is much still unknown about this coronavirus. I will share links to articles in my stories.
“And I make an effort not to read only about the coronavirus. I have just started reading ‘Selected Poems’ by Kenneth Fearing and a wonderfully honest memoir, ‘Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning’ by Cathy Park Hong,“she maintained.