What does a city look like during the corona outbreak? Photographer Annelien Nijland is documenting the daily reality of one-and-a-half metre life. Part 3: Waiting for visitors.
Jan has lived in his house on the outskirts of Utrecht for the entire 87 years of his life. It’s where he was born, where he took over his father’s horticultural concern, lived with his wife and raised his children. He’s a fixed asset for the local community, his door is always open and people like to drop in and visit him. Take his birthday, for instance, just six weeks ago. Twenty friends and neighbours turned up. It cheered him up, particularly now that he’s a widower (his wife died two years ago) and his sight is gradually fading.
But Jan’s house is now eerily quiet. Corona has put an end to all the visits. His children take it in turns to come round. He misses the chats and the company. He sometimes sees an acquaintance at his window, but it’s not the same. Even the football that always lifts his spirits has ground to a halt. Luckily, he has a home help to talk to three times a week. The nurses used to put drops in his eyes every day, but they aren’t allowed to now. He has to do it himself – and just manages.
He really misses his wife now that the days are so empty. But he doesn’t want to be pitied. Even though his sight has deteriorated, he knows where all the knobs and switches are and he can still spread his own bread. His children take care of the evening meals. He’d be happy with a microwaved meal, but they bring him fresh vegetables. He listens to Radio M Utrecht, his audio books and TV to pass the time. He can’t actually see what’s on, but there’s usually a news bulletin or talk show he can listen to. It’s just a pity that no-one can talk about anything but that virus at the moment.