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Prelims and pandemics




As an introvert who loves my bed and Netflix, it almost feels like a strange, very sudden holiday. While the chocolate stash in my room is fast dwindling, my screen time is increasing by the day.

Even my mother, upon seeing me spending some quality time with my sister, expressed concern at my sudden, unusual need for human interaction. Never mind that we were both on our phones, we were together, and that’s what counts.

However, in the midst of all these unexpected occurrences, we had mini-prelims scheduled. In the exam hall for the few that we sat, sanitisers and tissues were a feature alongside our papers. I’m pretty sure the scent of sanitiser will linger in my nostrils and that exam hall for years to come.

And then, the rest of mini-prelims were cancelled due to the lockdown, and now we are preparing to do actual schoolwork over everyone’s new favourite app, Zoom. My school is trying to maintain a sense of normality – for which we’re all grateful – but you can’t escape corona.

During those exams (mini-prelims), we’d write, then see friends for very brief interactions before being swept back home for more work and endless procrastination. Now, Zoom. This sour attempt at normality only highlights the effects of the virus: not having the solace of social interaction during this intense matric year is difficult.

Seeing my friends and extended family on weekends is what often got me through the week, and now that has been snatched so suddenly from us overloaded matriculants, we are all feeling it.

A group video call just doesn’t match the feeling of real-life social interaction. I’d never have thought I’d be saying that, considering I’m a huge homebody who far prefers my warm blankets to going on the jol. But it just feels like there’s something missing.

As matrics, we have countless questions – mainly regarding the matric dance and 18th birthday parties – but also about our schooling. I’m not doing this whole high school thing again, and I’m sure all my fellow matrics share that sentiment.

We want to know if that fateful lockdown day was our final day of school, if we’ll participate in our final sports matches or theatre productions. We’re confused about final exams, about university applications, and gap years.

So, this is an appeal to those younger and older than myself – stay home. Stay safe. Stay aware. If not for yourself, for your grandparents. And if not for them, for matric 2020. It’s in your (hopefully washed and sanitised) hands.

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