LOCKDOWN 2020: THE TEEN EXPERIENCE

Khadijah Ras (age 14)

By Khadijah Ras 4 May 2020

Seeing your loved ones over WhatsApp or Zoom is really not the same… It only helps to know they’re OK, says Khadijah Ras. (Photo supplied)

I get an uncomfortable feeling in my chest about people who don’t abide by the rules and regulations that’s been put in place for the lockdown, people going about as if everything is still the same as before.

Daily Maverick asked some high school pupils if they (with the permission of their parents) would share their experiences and thoughts on lockdown and the Coronavirus.

About a week before schools were supposed to close for the end of the first term of 2020, our government officially declared the country was in a state of emergency. Suddenly we were being educated about social distancing, isolation, voluntary isolation, self-quarantine, coronavirus, Covid-19, incubation period, personal hygiene etc. Sounded just like the movie Contagion

Being in Grade 8 and having friends wanting to hug each other but not being able to was really hard. And, yes, I do have that one crazy friend that said she doesn’t have corona and WILL hug me or else we can’t speak again. It was really unsettling but I gave her a piece of my mind. I’m sure you would have too. And that’s the problem, that’s how Covid-19 got to where it is… people don’t feel the symptoms and thus don’t realise they may be contagious.

At first, this lockdown meant nothing to me other than just an extended holiday. Now that I’ve watched news and have seen what’s happening all over the world it’s become much more scary. Some people worry about the last of the pasta in the pantry, toilet roll, detergents, sanitiser and about paying the WiFi so their kids are out of their hair. Others worry about keeping their job or even having a job to go back to when things ease up.

Then there are those who worry about “where will I sleep tonight, will I have food tonight, will I make it through the night”, or where will my next meal come from, what will my children eat?

Once we were on official lockdown, in my mind and in the world around me, I felt the change. Day by day we watched the numbers increase, death rates increase and, in South Africa, the high unemployment rate and our statistics with violent crime really got me worried about the families who do not have an income in this extremely challenging time. Yes, I know coming from a 14-year-old it’s a lot but I worry about these things and I think you should too.

On a lighter note, there’s been quite a few positives in my life I can think of, one being my brother who is usually in boarding school is now home and we never really had much bonding time but now we are each other’s only friend. I haven’t only grown closer to him but I now spend 24/7 with my parents who have started learning TikTok with me, which I personally love. I can feel the family love much more tangibly.

Yes I do get annoyed and sometimes really just want to run away, go to the beach, see my best friend whom I haven’t seen in soooo long and having had a holiday date with her because we don’t attend the same school anymore. It just feels unfair. (weeping eyes, heartbroken)

Seeing your loved ones over WhatsApp or Zoom is really not the same… It only helps to know they’re OK. 

Exactly four days before the official lockdown my sister-in-law gave birth to my first nephew. He was brought into this world under rather harsh conditions considering what was normal before lockdown. He hasn’t met any of the family except the five people that live with him. Usually, we will have a huge name-giving ceremony, but this time it was just us.

I am part of an Islamic Nasheed group at school. Every year Discover Islam hosts this huge competition where groups from all over Western Cape come together to compete for a championship. It would have been the first year that I competed, but it got cancelled and I feel like Covid-19 took something from me that I’ve been practising really hard for.

It upset me at first but as soon as I remember the reason it got cancelled I completely ease up, then I get an uncomfortable feeling in my chest about the people who don’t abide by the rules and regulations that’s been put in place for the lockdown. Those who are ignorant or uninformed, going about as if everything is still the same as before. Some of us are making sacrifices and others are causing mayhem.

And of course our police force and military cannot police every inch of our district. What to say about medical staff and our hospitals… gearing up to fight this pandemic?

If only we could all behave as if everyone has Covid 19. That way we would protect not only ourselves, but everyone around us. And I believe that’s the only way to fight this unseen enemy: imagine it to be everywhere. That will ensure social distancing to a point.

Many challenges remain, our nation will need to continue and abide by lockdown regulations. But we can do so knowing we have a president who understands what sacrifices are necessary to keep our people safe. South Africa can rise again.

Stay in your house. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. DM

Khadijah Ras is 14 years old and lives with her family on their smallholding in the Western Cape. She is in grade 8 and misses school and her friends. She wants everyone to survive the Coronavirus but is grateful for the time the lockdown has allowed her with her parents and brother.

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