Being in mandatory quarantine after returning home from South Africa reminded Jennie Ridyard how important the touch of another human can be.
For the last twelve days I have been in government-mandated quarantine, serving my time in prison at home. Only two more sleeps to go.
Not that I’m counting.
It’s been … interesting. Basically, I came rushing back to Ireland, to my family and, most important of all, my dogs, before the Irish government could implement its obligatory 14-day hotel quarantine for travellers returning from South Africa, all at one’s own expense.
I was to stay in our spare room, use the guest loo, wear a mask if I left my quarters, and keep two metres away from everyone in my family – although bellowing “Typhoid Jennie” when I was on the move was my own addition.
I wasn’t meant to cook or even switch on the kettle until my family, bless them, realised that my demand for early-morning tea would be their undoing, so I was allowed in the kitchen on condition I wore a mask and sterilised
everything before I decamped back to my room, to my Netflix.
None of this was particularly hard.
All of this was truly unsettling.
On arrival, the dogs rushed to greet me but not the humans. Instead they stood at the door, all big eyes behind their masks. I hadn’t seen them for five weeks, but there were no welcoming hugs or kisses – just the hint of hidden, anxious smiles.
As the days progressed I started to feel like an alien, like an invisible woman, flitting through my own house avoiding people, barred from cooking for anyone, eating alone, not allowed to even pat an arm in passing. Such is the law.
On day six I was freed briefly for a mandatory Covid test. I drove there the long way, window open, and never has a highway been so beautiful.
Yet still quarantine continued.
I became mulish, sulky; my family became fretful, grumpy. However, I realised what was wrong when Himself suddenly (and illegally!) hugged me from behind, and I burst into spontaneous tears of relief.
Health-wise, a lack of human contact is like smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and we had been starving.
Haven’t we all though?
We hear so much about Covid destroying the sense of smell, the sense of taste. But I think most of all we miss
the sense of touch.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.