Two of my friends recently had babies. Of course; as is to be expected; this was met with joy. However, it was also met with sadness and some tears. Why; you might wonder- well it’s because the fathers were absent. It was not by choice that they were not present. They could not help it.
Some kilometres away from where my friends had their bundles of joy; a friend’s niece was getting married; albeit in a different way. The large numbers of relatives who would have wanted to be present; could not be there. The families had to adhere to the regulations put in place by Government which prohibit crowds of more than 50 from gathering. But even more significant was the fact that the groom was not present.
Again, it was not by choice. He would have wanted to be present for the lobola ceremony and to participate in the custom and traditions that would see his fiancé finally becoming his wife but he was stuck in France where he works.
Like many others of their age; he would have wanted to participate in the photo shoots that have become synonymous with lobola ceremonies these days. It was also a wish of his wife’s. But alas; it was not to be. His relatives had to do it without him.
I know someone whose husband is working outside the country while their two children are studying in Canada and Australia respectively. She is alone in her big house with cleaning staff coming in twice a week. Most times she just cannot summon the energy to cook. She has taken an online course now to keep herself busy and also improve on her qualifications and knowledge. She is terribly lonely.
Henry celebrated his 15th wedding anniversary alone. This is because while he is in the United States of America, his wife is here in Zimbabwe. He says he is slowly becoming depressed. Both countries have in place their own set of regulations to control the spread of Covid-19.
I shall not even talk of the many lovers who are in long distance relationships who find themselves cut off from each other because of Covid-19. Talk of lovers in different parts of the world who have always been able to jump onto a plane as and when the need arose who find themselves unable to.
Covid-19 is not just a health crisis. It is an economic and social crisis whose ramifications we have not even begun to unpack. Can you imagine couples who have been kept away from each other due to the various lockdowns and border controls that have been put in place by countries?
These people have not enjoyed conjugal rights for the longest time ever while some have had to miss important milestones in their family life.
Zoom is not being used for just business meetings as some families have had to turn to the same platform just to have a meal together every evening and to have some semblance of connectivity.
While we have seen the effects of covid-19 on economies; on learning, mourning loved ones and many other areas; there is need to spare a thought for those couples who have not seen each other since beginning of year who still are not certain when they will see each other again.
Nakai wed her husband, who is a professional based in the United States in February. While her husband went back to his base leaving her to serve her notice at her job in Zimbabwe; the Zimbabwe lock down was announced at the end of March. She found herself out of a job and also locked out of joining her husband as originally planned.
Can you imagine what she is going through and how her husband feels? South Africa has been in the eye of a storm with its statistics for infections and deaths becoming really worrisome. At the same time Zimbabwe has also recently had to tighten its measures following an increase not just in deaths but in cases of the deadly virus. So the two lovebirds who are both excited about their second chance at love as they enter into this second marriage for both of them; are slowly becoming frustrated.
“We thank God for video calls for this is how we have managed to just keep our love going. We share everything throughout the day; make plans for the future, pray, do our budgets and even have meals together but it is hard,” says Nakai with a wistful smile.
Mary who recently had a daughter without her loving husband by her side says at times it feels quite hopeless.
While her husband sends money for upkeep from his United Kingdom base and is always video calling with her; she was so upset that he could not be there for the birth of their first child together.
“He was also upset. He cried so much. But what could he do? He has to work and he also cannot travel due to the restrictions in place. I am just keeping the faith that soon we will be together and once we are; we do not want to be apart ever again,” she said with tears in her eyes.
As the weeks go, as the months go, all across the world couples in long distance relationships (and they are many) keep their hopes up. Some have come up with online dates; some watch movies together online while virtual sex has kept some going and prayer is helping others.
For those relationships that were not strong; some have since cracked with some cheating while others opted to look for love nearer to them as a way to beat the stress and anxiety that Covid-19 has brought with it.
However; many others are waiting; waiting in hope and faith and in love; for an opportunity to be together again once it is safe to do so. Some countries have begun to entertain requests by partners to be together; realizing the importance of doing so. Zimbabwe has also now removed mandatory quarantine with those coming into the country who have a PCR negative test being able to isolate at home. This has seen those who come from countries where going back is easier; coming in to see their partners and families. Even love has not been spared by this virus.
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