Ask Bernard Ndege what loneliness looks like, and he might just tell you that it’s life for a septuagenarian in a home for the elderly amidst a Covid-19 pandemic.

Together with dozens of elderly colleagues at Nyumba ya Wazee in Tudor, Mombasa County, where he has spent more than 30 years, Mzee Ndege’s life was turned completely upside down by the coronavirus.

“Happiness is like a mirage here due to the pandemic. We’re very lonely and bored. Before the pandemic, we used to walk about in Tudor, visit the neighbourhood and friends, but we no-longer have that life. We’re in a cage; its like a prison. No one wants us to visit them due to the virus,” Mzee Ndege says.

Freak road accident

At first, the seniors would keenly follow the daily Ministry of Health briefings on the country’s coronavirus status. However, the briefings became too stressful and they stopped watching them.

Mzee Ndege sought solace at the elderly home 40 years ago after he was injured in a freak road accident. The father of two was admitted to hospital and later discharged after failing to pay a bill in excess of Sh100,000.

“I survived the road accident, but with broken limps. I was taken to Coast General [Teaching and Referral] Hospital where I spent 10 years before a Good Samaritan came and helped me,” he says.

With failing memory, he cannot remember the last time he visited his Kirinyaga home. Nyumba ya Wazee has been his only home with fond memories. But he says his family, including his wife who remarried once it was announced that he had died are not aware that he’s alive.