Gerald Mwale writes…
For a countless times I have driven along this section of the Great East Road, resisting the temptation to step on the gas, as the road dips and rises sharply past the imposing edifice of the newly built Levy Mwanawasa Hospital. This is one part of Lusaka that has undergone tremendous change over the years.
If you are coming from Chelstone going into the greater Lusaka area, you will drive past the Munali Flyover bridge still under construction, then into the now widened six-lane highway past the University of Zambia, then the ultramodern Eastpark Mall, then climb the now completed Arcades Flyover, that makes you glide right past the intersections of Thabo Mbeki and Katima Mulilo roads. The six-lane highway takes you right to the heart of Lusaka.
I’m conjuring this picture as I stand at the fourth floor of the Levy Mwanawasa Hospital, gazing at the area beyond Munali and Kaunda Square. Farther beyond I see the rising hills of Kabangwe to the Great North Road. It’s been raining heavily in Lusaka, giving a lustre vegatitave look to the city. It’s a picture that has set my mind thinking about a subject I had never given much thought to, until this time.
This is because I’m gazing at this beautiful scenario from my hospital room, where I have been admitted the last two days. I’m in the COVID-19 section of the hospital. I’m feeling much better than I was two days ago when I was brought in. It all started with a rather irritating sore throat, then a tightness in chest, followed by laboured breathing.
Coptic Hospital was the nèarest facility for testing, the result was positive. By that time I had lost strength to stand or sit on my own. I was referred to Levy Mwanawasa Hospital. A wheel chair and a disinfectant man covered in protective gear awaited our arrival. I was straightaway given a bed, with oxygen tubes and a drip. All the hosptal personnel were dressed in protective clothing, their faces totally incognito behind the shoprite screen masks.
Then followed a period of drug administration, temprature checks, throughout the night until morning. Another shift of the health personnel took over, going through the same routine. After the first night I felt some of my strength return. My mind was clear enough for me to think over my ordeal. And so, as I sat through this period, staring at the ceiling, I picked up my phone and decided to begin this narrative.
I really do not know the aim yet; whether to alert you to the reality of COVID-19; or to let it sink into you that you might, like me, be driving past the Levy Mwanawasa Hospital and never thinking that you might end up in that hospital room one of these days.
You see, it’s not as “impossible” as you think. It’s just a matter of letting off your guard in a moment of careless abandonment: forgetting to wear your mask properly; failing to maintain social distance, and not sanitizing your hands. Just as simple as that.