‘My first time outside in 39 days – the sun burns and I’m scared of people without masks’

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Karabo Mavuso (PHOTO: Supplied)
Karabo Mavuso (PHOTO: Supplied)

Before this I hadn’t even gone out to do shopping but as the days went by, I realised this wasn’t ending anytime soon and I’d have to get some supplies.

I woke up on Friday morning and worked remotely as I normally do. The only difference was I was anxious about my trip later that day.  The night before I had asked my mother to accompany me to the nearby mall to get some hair and face products – on the day, however, it was my dad who made the trip with me.

I ordered an XL car on Bolt and with our masks on, we left the house. The driver made us sit next to each other in the last two seats at the back of the seven-seater. He did not offer us any hand sanitiser but luckily I had two bottles in my bag. I sprayed the seatbelt and sanitised my hands afterwards.

The roads weren’t as empty as I had imagined they would be. It was less apocalyptic-looking and more like a Sunday afternoon in town.

As we approached the mall, my eyes widened as I saw the long lines outside. I only wanted to go to Dis-Chem and I joined the line for it.

There were 15 (yes, I counted) people in front of me and each person ensured that there was space between them. I watched people walk past, some with masks and others without. Those without masks made me feel uneasy and panicked – like, how are some people still not wearing masks right now?

I couldn’t concentrate on my phone as I kept looking around to make sure that whoever walked past was an arm’s length away.

When the time arrived for us to enter the mall, our hands were sanitised again. I felt like I was entering a mall post-zombie apocalypse because of how empty and quiet it was. My body tensed up as we walked towards Dis-Chem, where we stood in another line and had our hands sanitised again.

Something about being inside Dis-Chem got my body to relax. It could be all the skin products, the organic foods and the cosmetics section. I went about my business, bought everything I needed and left the mall.

My dad and I decided to sit outside the mall and wait for our ride back home. I asked if we could move into the sun as it had been a while. My complexion caught me off guard as I am the lightest I've ever been. I lasted for about two minutes in the sun before my skin started to feel like it was burning. Cape Town weather wasn’t hot on that day, 25°C to be exact, and I didn’t understand why my skin was burning.

Once I got home, I took off my clothes and immediately put them in the washing machine. I went to my room and called my boyfriend to tell him about the adventure I had just been on. He didn’t exactly understand why I was feeling like I had just achieved something big but it made sense to me at the time.

Once I got into bed and opened my laptop to start watching series, I realised I had just been outside and the paranoia of getting the coronavirus came back. Right there and then I told myself I wouldn’t be leaving the house again until after the lockdown ends, and so my isolation continues.

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