By Jamil Matar
“It’s incredible. People are dying who have never died before!” that was the joke on Facebook after the United States Government announced that it is forecasting the coronavirus pandemic to contaminate 1,000,000 persons in the U.S.A. within the next two weeks and cause the deaths of 100,000 patients. In our little country, we have recently announced our third case. According to my understanding, our cases seem to be mild and the patients may recover fully within a couple of weeks. Praises be to the Almighty! Also perhaps thanks to this heat. In either blessing, I think our national response has been cohesive and coordinated, our healthcare providers blessed with common sense and diligence. As such, I do not think that we will experience widespread contamination, panic and dread as in other countries. Then again, we seem to have an overabundance of opinions, optimism and bush doctors these days, so let me rephrase the previous statement. I hope and pray that our little Belize is not besieged by the COVID- 19 pandemic, Amen.
Today, Tuesday 31 March, at the COVID-19 national coordinating committee’s press conference, I noted the weight of the crises resting heavily on the Prime Minister’s shoulders. I do not think he expected such a pre-retirement bundle. To put icing on his cake, there is a prevalence of self-proclaimed intellects on social media and on the counterfeit Christian Television station. These “masterminds” relentlessly second-guess Mr. Barrow’s decisions at every turn. This annoying trait combined with businesses pressuring him for relief in all forms; he must be taking a pounding in his walking moments. For me, also, sadly, after many moons of voluntary quarantine, I once again had to hearken to the annoyingly nasal vocalization from the “sabelo-todo” from the West, Don Hector, who, as usual, was offering his endless, guileless opinions on every subject under the sun, and on every call-in show desperate to shake off cobweb from their phone lines.
In order for personalities like Don Hector and Sheppard-Tillett to give their flipsides a rest, I would offer people like them good money to simply stand behind the podium at press conferences and continuously bob their heads at every utterance made by the Prime Minister. That is the new way to hold effective press conferences these days; loud, angry proclamations combined with emphatic subordinate endorsement. Shouting and clapping strategies are old-fashioned demagoguery.
If you will have noticed, I am just rambling off today, overwhelmed by absolute boredom. I previously thought quarantine would be fun, you know, reading and watching TV all day, but just the idea of not being able to go out makes me want to go out. I am genuinely sick to the back teeth with Facebook. Only food and foolishness on my personal pages. I mention that with apologies to the Fake news providers and panic mongers. To them I say, “Every day bucket go da well…”
I guess that what I really miss is the regular feedback I used to get from the Badman brigade who never failed to update me on recent deaths and political events. These days I had to settle for crumbs from a die-hard, low- level PUP supporter named John. His understanding of the national emergency proclamation is that the curfew is round the clock, and all- encompassing. He loudly posed a rhetorical question to me “what will we eat now? Even ramen gone from our menu!” Recognizing that his theatrics was for political profit from the two Acosta brothers in hearing range, I jokingly responded that he should have planted Moringa, Chaya and “calalu”. Those are edible and nourishing plants, I told him. He rode away in a huff, knowing that I knew that he was spreading false information. Many little Arthurs running around these days, no true? What I cannot fathom is the obvious glee in the reactions of certain fanatical PUP supporters when there is bad news for our country. Then they hypocritically force themselves to look upset! I will leave you with the quote of this season, “there was a divine reason Jesus was sacrificed between two thieves; He wanted to give them an opportunity for redemption”.
By Jamil Matar