Pandemic Diaries: Kuwait’s 20-day challenge

By Jamie Etheridge

The Cabinet decided Friday night to place Kuwait on total curfew for the next 20 days – starting from Sunday at 4 pm until Saturday, May 30. The total curfew means no one may leave their home except for appointments to grocery shop or for a two-hour window from 4:30-6:30 pm daily, where we may walk in our neighborhoods.

Predictably, the announcement triggered a wave of panic buying and Saturday morning grocery stores, vegetable markets, butcheries and all other food shops were packed (the panic buying had actually started a few days earlier when rumors of the total lockdown first surfaced). But Kuwait has proven with the closure of the airport and then the imposition of the partial curfew that food will continue to be available.

The total curfew is scary not because it means we may run out of food or other basic necessities, but because it means 20 days of isolation. Kuwait has been under stay-at-home orders for nine weeks already. Our children have been stuck at home, unable to go out for more than 70 days. The strain of staying at home, of being isolated from family and friends, from going out, from any type of change can be overwhelming.

At the same time, we now have what hopefully will be a clear and fixed deadline – 20 days and then the country will open again! Twenty days till freedom! We can block out a calendar and count it down. There is an end in sight, a day zero we can work towards.

I am not fan of the popular 30-day challenges people often do. Thirty days of yoga, 30 days of drawing, 30 days of no sugar, 30 days of self-care, 30 days of photography…Google search ’30 day challenges’ – there are literally thousands of ideas. I can never complete the full 30 days. I’m always too busy, life intervenes and I end up not doing whatever challenge I’ve set myself and I almost always end up feeling like a failure.

But now we all have a 20-day challenge ahead of us. We will have the time and we will most definitely need the distraction. So my family and I will do a few 20-day challenges. Perhaps we will do 20 days of being kind to each other, 20 days of physical activity (we will have time to walk outside), 20 days of creativity and 20 days of prayer/meditation.

Twenty days seems like a long time; a difficult challenge to achieve and I know I will hit snags, low points and depressions, where it seems the 20 days will never end. So I will break the 20 days into four blocks of five days each and start counting down. Anyone can manage five days. Five days is nothing, a snap of the fingers. And in that way, insha’Allah, we will live and enjoy this next 20 days. Ready. Set. Go.

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