Operation Oysterhood: Day Eighty-One

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

— @HaggardHawks


It is almost as if my body had known that it would need the rest to brace itself for a difficult beginning of the week: I slept. Deeply, uninterrupted, for something like nine hours. I dreamt good dreams. Waking up, I felt refreshed, my eyes no longer hurt (screen time), there was light outside, and I made it just in time to put out my bin to be collected. For some reason, while attending to other Monday morning duties, I took the above photograph (and no other today) of the owl my friend Charlotte gave me when she was visiting. I made coffee, settled back in bed to read and then … the windmills, real and imagined, began their approach.

I did not know Elsa Joubert well. Our paths crossed a few times. She had always been good to me. She phoned after André died and we had a soul-heartening conversation that day. The first time I met her, I fainted at her feet. It was at a memorial for Marjorie Wallace. I accompanied André to the occasion although I was recovering from the flu and, still quite weak, I fainted while he was paying tribute to his late friend. Right in the middle of his speech. When I opened my eyes, I saw Elsa’s face hovering above me. The incident made it to Die Burger‘s page three…

Ninety-seven is a respectable age, but I hate the idea that she passed away due to Covid-19 related causes. That as a community we cannot mourn her all together, gather by the hundreds to pay tribute to her life and work. Some young woman should have the opportunity to faint at a remarkable writer’s feet at Elsa’s memorial. Hopefully, we can still honour her when all the chaos is behind us.

Elsa Joubert

Her words will carry us readers through this time of mourning. She will be missed.

The windmills kept attacking on all fronts throughout the day. “My skin is not thick enough for this world,” I wrote to my love. He phoned to remind me that the world needs thin-skinned people. I know, but feeling everything acutely is not easy.

A friend’s husband is in the hospital, his condition stable but complex and the road to recovery unpredictable. I cannot imagine what it must be like not to be allowed to rush to his side, to wait all day for phone calls with updates from the medical staff taking care of him.

The deluge of work-related matters descending into my inbox managed to overwhelm me in the context of the day. It was only in the early evening that I was able to make a fire and sit next to it at my laptop, and attend to the manuscript I’d promised to deliver to the author I am working with by tomorrow. If I get up early, I will make the deadline. And this work is the only thing that gave me joy today. Everything else was steeped in loss and sadness and, after all these years, my inability to accept that some people, when given a finger, will take your arm and try to chop it off for good measure. It is hard to protect one’s boundaries, especially when they are paper-thin and despairing. I feel and look like my owl, bewildered.

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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