There was a time I felt that shaking hands as a common culture of greeting will be without modern implications. It was a time when I associated happiness with the cheering excitement of football fans, and my friends talked about 2020 like it was a holy grail. Mi thought the same too only that she had no idea that 2020 would bring so much surprise. Before the pandemic, when Mi was 16, she had wanted to get married in 2020.
Mi is my friend. Someone I consider to be a conversation buddy. She is vivacious and laughs like a baby. Like Mi, I was staying in Keffi when the first wave of the virus communicated its presence. There was fear but there was also hope. In Keffi, Mi had a few months to complete her National Youth Service and I was pursuing another degree in Mass Communication and also working at the state radio station. Every night, Mi and I would sit outside close to a kiosk and talk about politics, relationships and music. Mi had an uncanny way of talking about music. Whenever my girlfriend called, she would speak to her and ask her to pay her for taking care of her husband. It was always amusing to hear her say that but Mi was free-spirited and exude the energy of someone that was always cheerful.
I received all calls that came whenever I was with Mi in her presence but Mi received most of her calls moving away from earshot, she would move away from me to a place where I couldn’t hear the conversation. I was very comfortable with that. I’ve always understood that privacy and boundaries were central to human relationships. Whenever Mi returned from her calls, we would simply continue from the point of our conversation.
The toll of the virus continued to rise, the world was feeling the heat, and death continued to claim people through COVID-19. Nasarawa had recorded its victim and trepidation, caution and reckless abandon were still in existence. One night, I was sitting outside with Mi and we were talking about some of the lessons that we learned from the pandemic. Mi said that this has taught her that life is fickle and unpredictable. I thought that was a grand thing to say and I wanted her to explain what she meant. Life is fickle, it is continuously changing and when it does it replaces problems either with a bigger version or with a smaller one, “Problem no dey finish,” she said. I understood that to be the quote of the year because everywhere you go, everyone was either quoting it, “Problem no dey finish, enjoy your life o,” or simply quoting a similar version.
Mi wanted to know how I feel about this pandemic and I told her that I feel strongly that it stole my plans from me. I had hoped that I would have completed the first part of my degree and gearing up for next year to complete the final lap.
I was talking about how I had to retweak my plans when Mi took a brief excuse to receive a call. I saw her walk hurriedly to a dark, far place. When Mi came back, she was crying. I was mortified. I have never seen Mi cry. Mi was crying because she had just confirmed that her boyfriend was married for four years and this had deeply torn her apart. Like everything that happened in 2020, it was obvious that this news was totally unexpected. I felt extremely sad for her and I tried to cheer her up but I was making very little progress. Mi said she was going to sleep at her female friend’s apartment. It was 9 pm, and I walked her to the place.