The mask

The mask is made from the body of an old t-shirt. We cut the bottom third off, fold it into thirds, slide elastic hair ties on each end, fold the ends over and voila! – a cloth face covering. It may not help. I put my palm up in front of his face and he breaths, pushing air out and I feel the heat of his breath on my skin. Not good enough. So we use a different shirt, with a thicker, tighter weave and we add an extra fold. This time when he breathes out, no air reaches my hand.

Ready for the grocery run. We are grateful we have access to food, a safe place to live, freedom to go and come and get the supplies we need. Not everyone is as lucky. Some will queue for hours, bunched up into tight knots of impatient humanity, social distancing impossible in the urgent crush for rice and bread.

We make a list, careful to focus on items needed and to limit luxuries to things like fresh fruit (I’m a sucker for lemons and oranges) and Greek yogurt for the kids. He puts on the masks, tucks the list into his pocket and heads out into the world. It’s dangerous out there, potentially fatal, but one of us must go and so he does. I stay home with the children.

The above might read like an excerpt from a science fiction novel or a scene from Mad Max but it’s not. This is our morning routine in Kuwait, a family of four, staying home, staying safe while fording the dangerous waters of daily life in the time of a global pandemic.

And we are among the lucky. We have cars and jobs still. We have an apartment with a small balcony. We have each other. We have our health still. It is easy to complain, to bemoan the long hours of ‘staying at home’, the boredom and the cabin fever.

But there are so many millions struggling – out of work, out of food, out of hope. Millions in India forced to walk hundreds of miles to reach their villages with little food, water or money and no help from the government. Millions around the globe without a job. In Kuwait, in the areas of lockdown, people must risk their lives and their health in order to queue for hours for a packet of bread, some rice and lentils. They linger along the roads, waiting for an opportunity, for work, for something.

We have hope. And so we make a mask. Even if it doesn’t fit properly. Even if it’s from an old t-shirt. Even if the creases don’t lie perfectly flat.

Check Also
Back to top button