#Stories4Health Could be me. Could be you.

The words hang up there – floating…waiting. The person for whom they are meant goes about her duties unbothered, someone else has must take them in and ponder. ‘Someone’ does and looks around, a little perplexed. Is hand sanitizer sufficient, can you count on the honor system, will someone really step forward and declare that they don’t feel too good, that they forgot to wash their hands and have been cradling their cheek for a while?

Could be me, could be you.

He looks at the scene before him – a crowd waits to be ushered into a room. They stand there in a line, shuffling. There’s a little unease here and there, nervousness sitting on a face or two. A person steps out of the line – this is it, patient zero… another, then another. They are not making a beeline for the exit, or reaching for their phones to call the non-existent toll-free line to report a spike in temperature.

One seems eager to stretch; another checks out the lady that just joined the queue. The third seems to have vanished, he reappears, emerging from the washrooms. Did he wash his hands for 20 odd seconds? Did he dry them? In the distance, a throat is cleared.

Could be me, could be you.

There’s sweat on a brow. There’s no way to tell what it’s doing there. No one thought to have a thermometer on the ready, so it’s anyone’s guess right now. Maybe it’s nothing…or panic. It could also be something viral. Why isn’t it being wiped away? It won’t leave of its own volition and no one’s going to step up to do something about it. All anyone can do, really is just stare. And stare everyone does until someone talks about how lax and selective the rules are; people are skipping quarantine. A friend of a friend came into the country a couple of days ago, her flight making a few stops, according her a layover that offered more than enough time to mix and mingle, not a chance to self-isolate or stay single. She’s back now and her beau went to pick her up.

Could be me, could be you.

The revelation’s unsettling. How long was she gone, who did she meet? Maybe she took all the precautions, but what if she didn’t? Who’s to say? She’s been away, she’d want a ‘home cooked’ meal – she could have gone home straight, but maybe the song “Party after party” made her nostalgic and she couldn’t wait to get down, ‘UG style’. So ‘get-down’ she did, not a care in the world. Even as that random guy approached her for a dance, a squeeze and asked for her number.

He thought nothing of her sneezing, went ahead and shared a cocktail, that hit them different. It stung a little, made her cough a bit. These out of town people and their allergies. He walked away from her and her soft parts, smiling. He’d got her digits. But what if he’d got more? The thought likely never crossed his mind as he approached a mate at a bar and high-fived him.

Could be you, could be me.

The moment comes and goes, people wait to be dismissed. A voice rings out over a PA system, “If you experience any symptoms within the next 14 days, please let us know so we can ask everyone else to exercise the necessary precautions. Thank you.” That announcement sticks, but only for a while. Six other words continue to take up a tonne of space in different people’s minds, living there rent-free.

Could be me, could be you.

Later that day, the announcement is made, our first patient. Theories abound, everyone’s suddenly an expert on the workings of the disease – the gestation period seems wrong, the symptoms manifested late, the guy might have got it on the plane, except, maybe, he didn’t. Who knows? The reassurance comes through, he’s been locked up. So that’s a win. The situation has been contained. What hasn’t been, are the other passengers that were aboard the flight. Where did they go? Were they infected? Are they among us? Who are they?

Could be me, could be you.

There’s no way of knowing. Some people think it’s a non-issue. We’ve survived worse. Others know better than to leave it all to chance and do what they think is right, stock up on as much as they can so they can ride this thing out. There’s a mini lockdown in place and of course that rubs people the wrong way, no worse than the infection were it to rub a person away.

Could be you, could be me.

Optimism ebbs, having previously found its place among the populace – bathed in religion, clothed in the misguided notion that we’re either too young or too African to be affected. We hope to rise from this, pray none of us will fall. Some do what they can, bleakly aware that from this one, we can’t really run. We buy the sanitisers – paying close attention to labels, looking at the percentage of alcohol within, place orders for masks, hoard fruit, and stock up on drugs, there really is no way to tell who our actions may save…son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, grandparent, father, mother, friend…

Could be anyone…

Could be me…

could be you.


Cover Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

This post was created with our nice and easy submission form. Create your post!


Written by Ivan Musoke

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

10 Things We Should Do Now to Improve Healthcare in Uganda

Kintu and Nambi; Kayikuzi and Kintu #25