The Covid-19 vaccine season and a shot of happiness

Dubai - 'While maintaining social distancing, I am reaching out to touch grief, getting closer to it and then letting it go.'


Allan Jacob

Published: Thu 17 Dec 2020, 11:44 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Dec 2020, 10:31 AM

Only the vaccine matters, I am thinking one evening about a horrible year gone by while listening to Andy Williams crooning a classic that has defined the season. Millions of vaccines developed by different pharma companies are being supplied across the world. The gloom is dissipating over opinionated conversations.

I swipe my phone to check some messages. They can’t wait because I am gripped by some illogical fear of catching up and the fear of losing out. I have to say something, anything, on those 20 groups that have given a convoluted meaning to my virtual existence. I am here because I exist in splendid isolation there with all the chatter and disputes surrounding me. But Andy sees it differently, and his optimism is flowing through the music. He’s old-fashioned and I am too — when it comes to music. I like melody, harmony, and some heavy metal or hard rock thrown in when I am in the mood. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the hap-happiest season of all, with those holiday greetings when friends come to call,’’ Andy sings with some inexplicable divine elation and joy as if nothing has happened in 2020. He’s oblivious to the pain and suffering which makes me angry.

But the voice is soft and reassuring; he changes my mood from blue to bright, and takes me back to a certain time in my youth when I had nothing to worry or care about during the holidays, those happy holidays when carolers came singing at our doorstep.

This year, social distancing protocols have ensured I keep those I know away, at an arm’s length or out of sight. Safe that way, the missus and I agree as we plot an end to our temperature-controlled, bunker-like existence with the kids. I can sense her irritation, yet pretend all is well.

A vaccine is now within reach. Friends might come calling sooner than expected. Maybe I’ll visit them when all this is over. It could start with a walk-in to get the jab at a health centre in the UAE where Sinopharm’s shot is being rolled out. What perfect timing for the holidays, I think. With others like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna on their way, who knows, we might have an extended vacation during the most wonderful time of the year.

A colleague received the shot two days ago and we had a short discussion on the headline for his first-person account of the experience. ‘I feel good… I feel great,’ he said. I’ve never seen him happier. The wait for a couple of hours was worth it, and the relief was flush on his face. He was a changed man, charged and ready to get on with his life after months of sitting on the sidelines.

The end to the season of sadness may be at hand with vaccines bringing much-needed festive cheer. “I’ve got a fresh lease of life,” he said. We settled on the headline.

Meanwhile, the UAE is welcoming people for ‘the best winter in the world’. Folks can stay and enjoy the cool weather and the shopping. There’s lots to spend on (if you have some cash to spare), plenty of sights to see and people that you missed meeting during the pandemic. There’s a nip in the air and a buzz in business that’s seeing a revival after nine months of slump that has devastated millions of lives and livelihoods.

Last week, the missus and I even went masked shopping with the kids at a mall after months of being stranded in our forced Covid-19 wilderness. I realise I am ordering from my local grocer and the restaurant more often – my way of helping local business tide over the health and economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

While maintaining social distancing or physical distancing, I am reaching out to touch grief, getting closer to it and then letting it go. It’s become a remote emotion, aloof, and hard to fathom on the WiFi connection with blue lights that keep twinkling when the Zoom of grief and death takes over. Sounds like a Blue (WiFi) Christmas, but it’s not. The lights on the tree are twinkling, the many colours lighting my darkness. Andy is positively divine as he hits the high notes to bring the song to a close. A stillness sets in. I am happy to be alive for another shot at life. Nothing else matters.


Photo: Alamy
Photo: Alamy

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