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A Pandemic Like No Other : 90 second read by Farriz Mashudi 03/12/2020

Photo by Denise Duplinski

In the women’s waiting room sitting quietly I’m the only one of five ladies not looking at my phone. Anything wrong to you with this picture, or is it business as usual?

                   Across the way in the Men’s area two males in thoubs laugh together under their white cotton headgear. It’s over an image one has shown the other on the screen of — you guessed it, his phone. Although, it could have been any one of the many other mobile devices filling our worlds. At least they were talking. In conversation, engaging, not wholly preoccupied in only themselves.

                        One of the women has exhausted hers. No more messages to tend to, she stares into the air. I count a minute tops; hardly long enough for a pause. To ponder, think, day-dream. Or is she looking for a distraction, trying not to worry? If so, fair enough, it was a hospital, after all. She pulls out the phone again. Checking. Nothing. She puts it back.Twiddles her thumbs. Checks again. Repeats the sequence.

                        Another woman works — you could tell from the purposeful gait as she entered. Busy with messages, her sharp suit and sunglasses indoors, but mostly the ceaseless chimes emanating from her vicinity, speak volumes. She needs a break she daren’t take. Not allowed to, or is it in fact her that prefers to not work from home?

                   We are six now. The latest joiner is portly and happy to dwell a while as she sinks into her seat. . . before commencing to fidget. From the folds of her voluminous black abaya emerges a slim phone. She holds it deftly in a broad left hand that scrolls and flicks to the next items with its thumb. The benefits these days of chunky ones.

   And these are just the adults.

                  What can cure this pandemic? A virus to wipe-out all non-essential electronic comms . . . like what we’ve seen with commuting (and for others, getting drunk socially) in 2020: Provided no one dies, what a welcome reprieve, even a blessing it would be — for all, or is it just me?

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