Operation Oysterhood: 11 June

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

— @HaggardHawks

Ulrike and Yolisa

Yolisa Qunta passed away after complications from heart failure on 10 June. She was 41. When I saw Ulrike‘s message yesterday in the morning, I immediately contacted her and she phoned back to share her sorrow at her dear friend’s passing and stories about how amazing and kind Yolisa had been during the time they had known each other as friends.

I met Yolisa because of a review I wrote of the book she’d edited, Writing What We Like: A New Generation Speaks. In September 2017, the Helderberg Leeskring invited Yolisa to speak about the book to them and asked me to interview her at the gathering after reading my LitNet review. We travelled to the event together, and the moment Yolisa got into my car, I felt her warmth and bubbliness, and by the end of the journey, the connection we established because of our migratory pasts was palpable and translated into a great conversation at the Leeskring, with Yolisa simply winning the hearts of all those ladies for whom reading her book was not necessarily a comfortable experience. The entire morning was a success and I remember it warmly. A little while later we connected again because of a library project that Yolisa was involved in and I delivered a box of books to her. At one point I got the sweetest message from her about my memoir, or rather about my brother and the way I portrayed him in the book: ‘I’m on page 45 and I think I have a crush on your brother,’ she wrote and made my day, and Krystian’s. I will always treasure the inscription she wrote into my copy of her book. I loved her Twitter timeline and the pictures she posted there (she also had a fabulous IG account, I discovered only this morning) – I did not know her well and only spent a few hours in her company, but I know the world is a much poorer place without her in it. I can’t believe that she died at such a young age. Thank you, Yolisa, for those few hours we shared and the many smiles your online presence brought into my life. And thank you, Ulrike, for sharing your stories of this special woman with me. She left too soon, much too soon. My heart goes out to all her loved ones.

~ ~ ~

After this shocking news, it was a slow start to the day. I read in bed for a long time, and then eventually got up and washed my hair and made breakfast. I woke up sneezing like crazy with my nose all blocked – a typical allergic reaction I often experience in the morning, but, of course, I immediately thought: COVID. Twenty minutes later I was completely okay again. No real symptoms whatsoever, but the imaginary ones continue to haunt me.

I had my sole oyster mushroom for breakfast :)

My love delivered groceries to my gate and waved from a distance. It was good to see him, even if only briefly. I did have a proper visitor, though – my doctor friend came to check up on me, but we stayed in the garden, far apart, and kept our masks on. It was comforting to talk to her about my situation. She also brought an almond croissant that I enjoyed with my coffee after she’d left. Still smelling and tasting everything with enormous joy.

My intercom rang once more during the day when these stunning flowers were delivered to my gate – sent by the wonderful Sue Brown, one of Karavan Press’s authors. She sent them to celebrate Karavan Press and all the press’s good news of recent days and to brighten my days in isolation. I do work with the most amazing people.

We are proofreading the last of the Karavan Press books that need to go to print before I can – finally! (yes, I know, I have been saying this for weeks now … sigh) – get a break (not imposed by Covid-19 hopefully). Self-isolating is not exactly resting, and the logistics of it do add other pressures to the everyday, but I have been taking it easy, simply allowing my body to have all the chances possible to deal with the virus should I have been infected. It seems that 95% of people infected show symptoms within two weeks from exposure, so I still have a few days to go, but the average time for manifesting symptoms (five to seven days) is behind me. I might have dodged this bullet. Fingers and toes crossed.

The late afternoon and the entire evening was tennis. Some bloody good tennis! I poured myself a glass of Miss Molly’s In My Bed red, got into bed after dinner, The Cats joined me and we … fevered (metaphorically!) and endured until eventually all of us were too sleepy to continue.

My eyes began to close at two all in the fourth set, and I had a feeling that I would not wake up to a miracle. I am never happy when Rafa loses, but what comforts me is the amazing tennis I saw being played on Philippe Chatrier. My tennis-heart is broken, though. And Novaxx Djokovid’s team members screaming their support into the crowds around them without their masks on just made me angry.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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


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