OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.
Yesterday, André would have turned eighty-five. All day long, I was exchanging messages and calls with family and friends who all remembered the special day, my love among them – you know that someone loves you when they treasure all of you, including your past and everything and everyone who contributed to shaping (positively!) the you who you are today. I usually throw a dinner party for André’s birthday and celebrate with dear friends, but this year, in the evening, I lit candles in André’s library and, sitting in one of his visitors’ chairs, read through all the social media messages that came through on his birthday and was deeply moved by all the remembering. The messages continued coming until I was falling asleep with Salieri next to me. The last one was from one of André’s former creative writing students. He inspired and taught so many of us.
There is something about birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions that focuses and intensifies grief. The pain grows more bearable as the years go by, but the loss remains the same.
My lemon meringue pie from the Alma Café arrived home on Friday afternoon. It was meant to last the weekend, but the last slice disappeared already today just after dinner… I blame it on my hormones!
I had a slice for breakfast. The meal that I ordered with it was a divine butter chicken, also all gone by now…
Can’t wait for the new menu for next week!
Saturday morning was reserved for a grumpy Wild Earth hippo and reading (in bed). The hippo refused to share his water with the buffaloes and angrily rearranged the branches of the dam, displaying his impressive teeth and chasing everyone else away. It was quite something to watch.
In the afternoon, once I’d finally made it out of my PJs, I went into domestic goddess mode and vacuum cleaned carpets, polished wooden and washed tiled floors, dusted, hung out laundry and cleaned the pool. Sadly, I also had to bury a small mouse that drowned in the pool.
Mozart’s nest seems dry enough again for him to occupy during the day and the Frog Prince made an appearance.
In all my cleaning frenzy, I took the decision to return the guest bed to its usual location! Yep, no more TV bed in the lounge. I have manged quite a few nights in my bedroom bed and the house it getting so cold that falling asleep without an electric blanket is difficult to contemplate. During my refugee days as a child, I suffered so much from cold that I promised myself never to sleep in a cold bed again if I can help it. In case of insomnia emergencies, I will simply move to the couch, wrap myself in quilts and my winter duvet and hug a hot water bottle; if need be, but let’s hope not. My cheeks haven’t been sore for a long time, my back is okay, I sleep through most nights (although nightmares still continue to haunt me), so I should be okay. One gets used to almost everything…
The Covid-19 numbers in the Western Cape keep rising, and with the move to level three, they will probably continue in the direction of the CTICC. My mission is clear – avoid the CTICC at all costs until it transforms into an ordinary convention centre again. And so almost nothing will change for me at level three apart from walking more outside the property at different times of the day and stocking up on red wine sometime in the next two weeks (I am apprehensive about a possible return to hard lockdown thereafter). No shopping on Monday though. I think Monday is going to be an absolute shopping nightmare… Yesterday, I spent half an hour in a queue outside a supermarket for essentials. The man in front of me kept his distance, but he hardly ever wore his mask; when he did, it was incorrectly, and he spent most of his time talking on the phone. I was very grateful for my mask and my viser, but I was disappointed in myself that I did not have the guts to tell him to please put on his mask and to keep it on his mouth and nose while he was in the queue with the rest of us, especially when he was talking on his phone. Afterwards I felt that I should have stood up for my right to safety and health, but I simply wasn’t brave enough to be confrontational :(
I initially saved the bottle of pink bubbly that my friend and HAIR co-editor, Joanne Hichens, gave me before the lockdown for the last weekend of the first three weeks of level five (before we knew it was only level five). When the ban on alcohol was extended, I decided to save it for the last weekend before it is lifted. And voilà! After all the hard work of the afternoon, Mozart and I enjoyed a glass of pink bubbly on the stoep and watched Wild Earth and our own winter sunset in Rosebank.
Great literary news of the day:
Number one – yesterday I had a lovely Skype conversation with someone who is writing up an amazing family story and she picked my brains about it. I CANNOT wait to see what happens with this book. It sounds simply marvelous.
And two – I saw today that Lyndsey Stonebridge has a new book coming later this year. An absolute must-have for me!
Writing and Righting: Literature in the Age of Human Rights
A timely and topical work from an important literary critic
A bold and accessible argument for the moral and political value of literature in rightless times
Establishes connections between literary cultures and the development of human rights
Introduces the sub-discipline of literature and human rights to a general audience
Stonebridge’s latest, Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees, is such a vital book for our times. It taught me so much about my own experience and made me see the future in a different, kinder, way.
A Kalahari lion after devouring butter chicken and lemon meringue pie.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home. Please wear your mask in public spaces – please!
“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”