Operation Oysterhood: Day Thirty-Nine

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.


The day started with a ruse, all calm and solitude. After taking out the bin, Glinka and I had coffee on the stoep and listened to the human and car traffic outside our property, and I understood that I will have to wait for rain to enjoy a safe morning walk-outing again.

Today is Star Wars Day. A few years ago, I got this amazing BB8 artwork as a gift from my super-talented friend Roland.


And, quite fittingly, me beeps, I had to go on a ‘galactic’ mission today. An essential worker needed assistance in performing an essential level four task and needed a driver; I was asked to assist. All my documents were filled in and signed and I was able to travel all across Cape Town and back with my permits. It was marvellous. I never got out of the car, and I had no desire to, but just the drive itself was beautiful. Nearly empty streets, glorious weather, and the people I saw on the way were mostly wearing masks. I waved to the Mountain from the other side and saw the harbour and the sea from the distance… The road signs on the N2 were flashing: NO NON-ESSENTIAL DRIVING. But I was doing essential driving and was happy to be of help. I wore my mask and washed my hands and did not endanger anyone. But for a few minutes I stood outside a shop that was open for business and in that short period only I observed people fiddling with their masks all the time, pulling them down to talk to others and to answer their phone, not keeping much distance between themselves and others. Watching, I just shrivelled inside and knew that we have a long, tough journey ahead of us. And it is only going to get harder.

I returned home with an even firmer resolution that to keep sane among this madness, I will follow the safety rules and regulations that are meant to keep us from spreading Covid-19, even if my tiny contribution is perhaps a drop in the ocean of other careless actions.

The rest of the day was spent in front of the computer, working. Because printers are back at work under level four regulations, we can send one manuscript into the final stages of production. I still don’t know anything about the logistics of what will follow, but at least we will have a new Karavan Press title sometime in the near future. I could send another manuscript that needs to be read for a reader’s report to the printer in my neighbourhood – as I usually do (I try to read everything on paper that I can) – as they have instituted very good safety measures for collections and I will be able to get the printed and bound copy without fearing for anyone’s health. An author phoned for some advice and we had a good chat. Emails had to be written. Notes had to be prepared for an electronic meeting of a board I am a member of. And before I knew it, the evening had arrived and my cousin phoned on Skype to catch up. I had two-minute noodles for dinner because I was not interested in food. And then, just because I was unusually quiet on Twitter throughout the busy afternoon, a dear friend sent a text message to my phone (which I didn’t hear) and when I did not reply for a while, she phoned to inquire whether I was okay. I really, truly love my Friends. Thank you! Beep. Boop. Happiness.

I am exhausted tonight. In the words – or rather images – of Damien Kempf, the medieval manuscripts explorer:

Damien Kempf

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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