I could see the excitement in his eyes. He would finally be going back to school after being at home due to the ten-month ASUU strike. The past year had been a really difficult one for the entire family but my son thought he had it the hardest, as teenagers tend to over dramatize. I watched him quietly every time he had one of his “meltdowns”.
I wished I could protect him from what lay ahead but all man for himself. I did not share his enthusiasm to return to school. A school I knew all too well. At seventeen, my son is a second-year student of Computer Science at a Federal University. I wanted him to experience the best education available but the salary of a lecturer in a Federal University was barely enough to make basic ends meet. Now more than ever, I wanted my boy to not return to school. As we all know, COVID-19 made a grand appearance in early 2020 and life as we know it, ceased to exist. Would I be able to keep my son safe if I let him out of my sight?
Once his school announced resumption dates and my son stepped on that bus, could I protect from contacting COVID-19? He was going to be seated with other people for a duration of about six hours. Had the other occupants of the bus complied with the COVID-19 guidelines? When he gets to school and goes to his lodgings off-campus, would his roommates have complied with the guidelines? What about his lecturers? Would he wear a facemask to class? At least, the lecturer stays more than two metres away from the class. What about his classmates? Would they wear facemasks properly? They would be breathing off of one another, being that students have to manage the inadequate seating arrangement in lecture halls.
Would the school be constantly monitoring each student so if one gets infected, at least the wards can be notified? Would the school authorities take responsibility for infected students? Would they be cared for properly? If my son were to get infected, would he even be made aware during the incubation period so he can go into isolation before I can travel down to take proper care of him. With all these unanswered questions, how am I expected to let my son walk out the door?
Thankfully, we have not been paid our arrears owed to us by the Government. I could use that to keep him close to me a little longer. I’d rather have him alive and upset with me than brought back to me in a body bag.
I know it is utterly selfish but I am praying for another lockdown to be announced. I haven’t even thought as far as what this pandemic could mean for the future of my boy. For now, I am focused on keeping him alive and healthy. After all, what is a mother’s job if not to protect her baby?
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Halimah is a firm believer that the education and empowerment of women are essential tools for lasting peace and progress in our society and that women should be allowed to pursue whatsoever path they choose. Born and raised in Nigeria, she has been described as "outspoken,energetic and diligent". Her passion for social change has led her to volunteer at a number of organizations that are passionate about having a tangible impact on society. Halimah currently works as an Assistant lecturer at the Department of Library and Information Technology,Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria. She hopes to establish a mentoring program to provide young girls and women with proper guidance to make informed choices aimed at personal fufillment. She relaxes by reading and watching movies.