YESTERDAY, March 27, marked the 14th day – hence, per DOH guidelines, end – of my home quarantine: mandated for having stayed in the same room with, if only for about an hour and some distance from, Pampanga health chief Dr. Mar Jaochico who died on March 24 from Covid-19.
So now I write: There is nothing liberating, nothing of that “live to tell the tale” exuberance, in getting through home quarantine. After all, there’s ECQ for our sufferance ‘til April 13, fingers kept crossed at that.
There is everything enriching though, so I found, in being locked home. And this may serve me well the rest of the ECQ way.
Resistance is a natural reaction to change, an abrupt one most tellingly. The first day of home Q hit as hard as the day I quit – cold turkey – smoking. From three packs a day of Philip Morris 100s for over 15 years to nothing, not even a puff, was absolute hell. Go, ask any quitter.
Where nicotine once was, a home-only-to-sleep-in mindset is, for years now, my new addiction. Home Q then its unpalatably bitter antidote, and the inevitability of withdrawal symptoms in series of anxiety attacks.
Anxiety at every thermal check three times daily, assuaged somewhat with body temperature invariablyranging from a low of 35.1C to a high of 36.7C –below fever point, throughout the fortnight, plus the absence of cough and dry throat. No symptoms there.
“Oh, missing Eeess-eeem!” Laughed youngest daughter on video call, inquiring how this mall rat is doing as a house mouse.
It helped a lot that Punto! online continued – the print edition ECQ put in limbo. Aside from affording me breaks from home stress with the stories from our correspondents needing editing, and some limited writing, it gave a sense of continuity to what-now-used-to-be.
Facebook, the supposed to be ready refuge against the isolation, is in the age of Covid-19, no more than a vitriol vat of its own. The rants, the rage, the disinformation, all the fakery trouble the very soul.
TV? Just about any newsbreak or newscast but an outbreak of imbecility in all government instrumentalities: like the virus, epidemic in scale; more damningly, endemic in character.
Reading provided another escape from home humdrum. Alas, only three chapters into Lenin the Dictator, the eyes felt desert dry. Need to preserve astigmatic and myopic sight for the more important, read: financially rewarding, online editing and writing.
Work from home notwithstanding, there were some gaps that boredom, irritability, even melancholy, easily filled in. By the third day – for good or bad – one starts seeing, aye, sensing extraordinariness in everyday ordinary things.
Like the tingling in your skin touched by the morning sun; the red you see facing up eyes closed is not really red but light orange-red, paling to whitish red hues the longer it takes. Not to miss out on those popping blobs of deeper red. And yes, 15-minute exposure decongest stuffy noses. Wow!
How about the iron window grill where rests your head and shoulders as you sun yourself is good for massage, as you press against it!
The air is cooler and smells cleaner at the sideyardshaded by the jackfruit and guava trees, under which proliferated ferns, sansevierias, colocasia and alocasia, even insulin plants, and where the sun peeked, a potted anthurium.
For too long, bayabas fruits ripened and fell to the ground wasted, swept and garbaged. Ay, it was back to boyhood climbing the tree, picking manibalang fruits, and where the hand could not reach, there was the dependable sungkit.
By first week’s end, I have come to talking to the plants – a photo in FB drawing a lot of jocularity. And yes, the plants responded – the langka with two sweet smelling ripened fruits, the sampaguita far back the yard in full bloom, even the potted marcotted figsapling that shed its last leaf in February suddenly leafing. Plant whisperer, anyone?
And dog talker too. Franco, our golden retriever, all too playful for serious conversation though.
There is no grinning, there is only bearing the physical distancing self-imposed at home, especially with my precocious 3-year-old grandkid Baste. He just could not understand why he had to stay six-feet away from me at all times, why he could not hug and kiss me goodnight, or sit on my computer table and look at all his pictures in my laptop. It breaks the heart.
Social distancing though is breached in the web – all the kids and grandkids, the Tokyo set included – with daily viber, skype, and videophone calls. Home Q upholding family solidarity there.
Family solidarity further fortified in prayer. As the Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton memorialized: The family that prays together, stays together. The Holy Rosary prayed daily before the family altar: in supplication for a cure, for the eternal repose of the souls of the victims,for the comfort of the afflicted, for strength and health of the frontliners.
A most uplifting spiritual retreat – the Holy Mass broadcast daily at 9 p.m. over EWTN global Catholic network. The liturgy imbues one with a deeper meaning of the sacrifice, the Latin hymns and prayers as it were verily lifting one to the heavens – Kyrie eleison deeply penitential, the divine providence in Pater Noster, Agnus Dei of mercy and peace, what the world needs and only the Lamb can give.
Ite, missa est assuming in meaning not only the end of the Mass but a sending – to the world – to live the Faith as the Faith lives in you.
Ah, if only for the anticipation of the family praying the Rosary of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Sacrificeevery evening, how can home quarantine ever be hellishly boring?
A life not really altered but amended here. Benedicamus Domino.