What day is it?

Today marks Day 5 of the full curfew in Kuwait. This week also marks 12 weeks (or 3 months) since children stopped going to school and nine weeks since the airport, mosques and other public places were closed. Eight weeks ago the government imposed a partial curfew, a decision at the time that seemed remarkable and frightening. This weekend also marks six weeks since Mahboula and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh were isolated, their inhabitants cut off from the rest of Kuwait.

Each progressive measure adds to the surreality of the experience. What day is it? How many days since this all started? Where do we begin counting from? Time, our routine way of segmenting the day into minutes and hours, has lost its meaning. What does it matter if its Sunday or Thursday when there are no appointments, meetings or places to go?

Life has become calendar-less. Working or being at home, the days begin to fold one into the other. By now, most of us have established some sort of routine. We might be working from home all day, sleeping at night. Or maybe sleeping until noon, watching TV or reading, exercising, waiting for iftar. Ramadan typically is spent visiting family and friends, attending gatherings, enjoying qhabqa feasts and spending the nights outside. Now, however, that is impossible, and so we wait out the long, quiet nights alone or in our small, family groups.

And the next day, we do it all over again and in this way time passes but within very narrow sets of experiences so that the days seem to mimic each other, to repeat themselves until we lose track of time, track of the days that have passed. Is it 12 or 13 weeks since schools closed? Are we on Day 5 or Day 6 of the lockdown? Is the day Friday or Saturday?
Most lose count, waiting only for the two upcoming events that will change the situation – May 23 or thereabouts for the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid. This will disrupt the routine in many households in Kuwait. The major event will be on May 30 (insha’Allah), when the planned and hoped for freedom will come with the end of the lockdown.
In the meantime, we stay at home and wait our way through the minutes, hours and days.

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