Life in Lockdown

The anxiousness of lockdown

Ciara Power 
MA Candidate in Anthropology

It was the beginning of COVID-19 lockdown in the Republic of Ireland. The most beautiful day I had seen this Spring. I’ve been staying with my grandmother in Dublin. Her Victorian-style farmhouse-fortress is situated deep in the country landscape, sheltered by green trees standing tall like skyscrapers. Hustle and bustle sounds of the city are scarce, but these silences amplify the voices of birds – their joyous hymns distract me from thinking too much. The virus confines my grandmother to her home because she is categorised as ‘vulnerable’. Her independence stripped; she relies on others to complete her tasks beyond the stronghold. She half-heartedly asks me to drive to the closest town to purchase the weekly shop. I can hear the unhappiness in her voice. She thirsts for her freedom. Like everyone, she wants this isolation to end and return to what she constitutes as a ‘normal’ life. 

As I anxiously drive a small, raspberry Nissan Micra, my grandmother’s cries for freedom ring in my ears. I wonder if she will ever live a ‘normal’ life again. I wonder if I will ever live my ‘normal’ life again. I blast the radio loudly, distracting myself from thought. The radio station plays a bog-standard chart-pop tune. Impatiently, I click  through different stations to find any ‘oldie but goldie’. After a fifteen-minute journey, I arrive at the entrance of the underground, drive down the narrow ramp, and proceed to find a parking space. I can’t believe my eyes as I scan the length and breadth of the large, industrial car park. There’s just a handful of cars scattered around the place. There are no bumper-to-bumper, vibrant vehicles or people going about their day-to-day shopping tasks. It’s eerie, lifeless, and I feel empty inside. 

I park the car nervously, steadily pull up the handbrake, and carefully switch off the engine. I break into a cold sweat. I swallow the razor-sharp lump in my throat, take a pair of blue latex gloves and stretch them over my clammy hands. I quickly snatch my purse, two shopping bags and a handful of anti-bacterial wipes from the passenger seat. I mentally prepare myself for this psychological warfare as I open the door and step out of the car. I look left, then right, then left again. I hear the faint buzz of electricity waves from the overhead rectangle lights. A blue hue beams across the parameter of the parking lot. I yearn for some reassurance from just a single person, but I am alone.

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