OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.
I arrived particularly early, so that I could make sure to get us a safe table outside. The restaurant does not take reservations. I ordered a mojito, opened a book, occasionally glanced up to look at the groups of sexy, young people passing by and waited for my love to arrive.
Another tough day for both of us, but here we were: together, cool drinks in hand, about to have a nice meal on the stoep of a nice restaurant …
… We were nearly ready to go when someone recognised us and approached the table.
‘Hello! So good to see. How are you? You don’t mind if I take this thing off, do you?’ Off went the mask before I could answer or shake my head. Stunned, I automatically shook the hand that was extended towards me at the same time. Then I went numb.
And it hit me: Don’t talk, don’t breathe, lean back as far as you can, pray for the light evening breeze to protect you.
Fortunately, the person said all they wanted to quite quickly and moved on. I grabbed my mask, sanatised my hands and went home to scrub them clean, the encounter leaving the taste of defeat in my mouth. Why can’t I stand up for myself in these situations? Why can’t I shout: “Put your mask back on and f@#$%^ off!”?
And this, exactly a YEAR after the first official coronavirus case was identified in South Africa. A whole YEAR, and no matter how hard I try to keep safe, no matter how assertive I try to be, when confronted with this kind of blatant disregard for my safety, health and life, I freeze. And I use the word ‘freeze’ very consciously. It often happens when someone violates your physical and/or psychological integrity: you freeze. But I am not sure that I have understood it until tonight in the context of the pandemic.
“When will it end?” – an article my brother sent me earlier today. One year since the first official case in SA, over fifty thousand official deaths here, worldwide numbers difficult to comprehend. And it is only the first year. The third wave will happen, because those of us who try to behave responsibly are not strong enough to shape even our own futures when faced with the onslaught of ignorance and carelessness of others.
Be kind. WEAR A MASK!!! Support local.
“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”