COVID-19: Can you hear me?

20 May 2020 | Story Rebecca Njuguna. Photo Supplied. Read time 2 min.
Living in a shared open plan studio, Rebecca says she has little privacy.
Living in a shared open plan studio, Rebecca says she has little privacy.

#UCTLockDownLetters is a new feature on the University of Cape Town (UCT) news site. Staff, students, parents of students: we want to hear about your experiences of work and life in lockdown. Emails, audio and video clips, prose and poetry are also very welcome. This is your space.

This contribution comes from Rebecca Njuguna, a full-time master’s student in the Department of Information Systems in the Faculty of Commerce.

14 May 2020

I was on orders to get out more

Now I can’t go out at all

Not even to the chair on the corner where I sit each week

To gaze through the window of my soul

“The process must continue,” said the one who sits across from me

Now there is a screen between us.

Once she had to ask

“Is it your voice or signal breaking?”

She’s let no emotions get lost to bandwidth

A few times I’ve had to ask

“Can you hear me?”

And really, isn’t that the question of my whole life?

The private room is small and dark and has an echo

An evil satire

For it’s the echo from my past that brings me here

Yesterday I was on the seat for the weekly gaze

Then just sat there for long after

From thence I heard children play outside

Innocent, stress-free, unhinged

I looked at the chair on which I sat

And thought “what if they’ll end up here too?”

All the laughter and play faded

Things all seemingly harmless in their eyes now

Turned into vicious ghosts.

For growing up is nothing but an endless fight with ghosts of days past

Dancing to echoes of victory or weeping to dirges

And whispering

“Can you hear me? Does anybody hear me?”

Even when the signal scrambles

I know she’s there.

And that’s what it is about,

Knowing that someone’s there,

Whether I see them or not.

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