I forget sometimes that we’re still in a state of National Disaster, here in South Africa. At other times the consequences of the lockdown are all too real. The loss, of whatever it is, sits with me, in my body. And I’m aware of a sense of anticipation… or impending doom… what will happen next? The continued sense that something is gone, without quite knowing what, or all, that it is.
I like curfew. I hope it keeps people in their beds from the specified time of midnight to 4:00am. Even the crims need a break. It feels like a respite form clandestine activity which I’m very good at imagining. Every bang could be a gun shot, every squeal of tires a getaway attempt, a hijack. Every screech in the night a domestic incident, though it’s usually Alister scoring a point on League of Legends and letting the entire neighbourhood know about it with his whoops and squawks. (‘Yes, mom, I’m studying, I’m just taking a break!’)
As things (seemingly) settle down, I’m learning about the ripple effects first-hand. I’ve lost business, lost income. I’ll be flogging paintings I inherited from my dad. It’s not as desperate as it sounds. In fact it’s not desperate at all. I’m fine. So fortunate in many ways. More than getting money in, I want to let go of the past. My so-called TV room is almost a replica of my dad’s study, with his paintings on the walls, and his paraphernalia on shelves, and when I go in there I feel the pull of the past. he’d been dead six years now.
I always wanted these ‘things’, maps of Africa, Chinese snuff bottles, ashtrays of Jasper and Verdite (really? why did I want ashtrays? I don’t smoke, though I did thirty years ago, thirty a day, Gunston, Winston… (I was a tough chick) but now, for the last few years, and especially over lockdown, it seems pointless to hang on to items that had meaning in my parents’ home but seem so lack lustre in my own.
I forgot to wear my mask yesterday, that’s how ‘normal’ things appear on the surface, and one goes about as if the air is clear, no virus out to get you, just waiting to mutate, and contaminate you as you pack peanut butter and potatoes in your trolley.
I walked down the hill, got to Checkers with my cloth bags – at least I remembered those – and was turned away from the door, as the security guard pointed to the ‘no entry without mask’ sign and I slunk away in a walk of shame. Thankfully I could zip into Thandi Boutique and buy a designer mask, why not look good in Checkers? I was not about to walk home again, up that damned hill, in the sun, sweating, my thighs aching, my heart beating. (As Al says though, as long as your heart is beating, you’re okay, keep going…)
I got a message from a friend in England, saying that the Brits are going crazy buying toilet paper again; I read that the first US presidential debate was like a toddlers free-for-all, all that shouting and yelling over each other (Palesa, come back!). I read the Greeks are towing migrants back out to sea almost before they land on island shores, and leave men and women and babies there, floating in motorless life rafts, hoping the Turkish coast guard will pick them up. I read something like twenty-five thousand South African matrics will not be returning to school to write their exams in a months time. Is all this true? Is this the state the world is in? Especially the toilet paper thing, didn’t we learn the first wave around that toilet paper doesn’t combat Covid-19? Not even three-ply with printed blue puppy dogs?
I have to put the cat down. He is not well. I was taught ‘one’ says the cat is ‘ill’. Who says that anymore? ‘Ill’. I bear you no ill will. I am ill. No man, I’m sick, I’m sick and tired, I’m sick and sore and I’ve had enough. I’m sick of the state of the world. Sick to my stomach at the selfish, self-centered way of the world.
My phone beeps. I’m going to run a memoir workshop for a group of lovely writers. I’m going to get another short story anthology off the ground. I am stroking my soft, sick cat, right now, as I lie typing in bed.
I pick myself up. I look out of the window. The sun is out. It’s a beautiful day. The waves are rolling in ,and back, the ebb and flow, as always.