30 March 2021 – Glasgow, Scotland

By Gayathri Warnasuriya

I am in another lockdown. This time, in Glasgow. Just over a year ago, in February 2020, I was in London at a conference and a weekend with friends. Many of the things we did, like chatting over loud music, squeezed together in a crowded bar, seem unimaginable now.  On the way back to Amman, I sat next to a woman in a Darth-Vader-like respirator mask and the other passengers and I looked askance at her. She was of course, ahead of her time.

After months in lockdown in Amman, I arrived in Scotland during the summer, sun shining and restaurants full of people eating out to help out. As cases went up, and a more transmissible variant of Covid spread through the UK, we rose through the tiers and another lockdown began in early 2021. Now in late March, after a tragic second wave of illness and death, the rollout of the vaccine has allowed for the easing of restrictions. My daughter is back at school but, apart from shops selling food and medicine, everything else remains closed.

I am fortunate enough to be able to stay at home and, for the most part, protect myself from exposure to COVID. I’m not yet vaccinated and still fearful. Our home feels like a cocoon and I feel like a long-term prisoner about to be released, excited about life on the outside but also apprehensive. Amongst heavier things, I realise that my standards of dress have slipped. I haven’t purchased any new clothing and have been able to hide my comfortable yet scruffy attire during the school run, by throwing on a big winter coat. Yet winter has passed and it is most definitely spring. For today’s school run and shopping trip, I decide to wear a dress, pulled out of the recesses of my wardrobe for an interview. The dress inspires me to wear some make-up, maybe some eye-liner and a touch of lipstick, yet I can’t find any, not having worn make-up for months.

I step out feeling irrationally glamorous in my standard work-wear dress. I hear birdsong above the traffic. Crocuses and daffodils are blooming everywhere. Glasgow is a friendly place where people smile and say hello on the street. I am approaching the supermarket and have my mask on. I smile back. Even though my mouth is hidden I know that I have inherited my father’s crinkly-eyed smile and I hope my eyes are enough, even without make-up, to convey the joy of that fleeting moment of human interaction.