Operation Oysterhood: 20-22 August

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

— @HaggardHawks

A visitor in my Mom’s garden. Last winter, she thought that she was feeding hedgehogs in the back of her house, until she discovered that she was actually making a family of rats very happy. Fittingly so, in the end, as we are family, but she did freak out a bit (for those who do not know: szczurek = little rat). It was good to see that the hedgehogs also survived.

This weekend, after a relatively busy Friday, I acted pretty much like the above hedgehog, curled up, spikes out, and not too eager to engage. I read a lot, mourned the end of Roger’s and Rafa’s 2021 season, watched mindless television, co-planned a new literary prize with wonderful people (yes, because I have so little on my plate and need to keep myself busy ;)) and went for a long walk along the Promenade with my love.

On Saturday, my love treated me to our LAST MEAL (!!!) at the famous The Test Kitchen, which is closing its divinely-delicious doors soon.

Every bite will be remembered with great fondness, especially the dill ice cream – you have not lived until you have tasted dill ice cream!

It feels like the following should not be simply part of a blog post on quotidian matters, but a book on its own (and I have been writing it for years now, so perhaps one day it will see the light of publication …), yet it is what it is: an integrated part of so many of our lives:

Today, Sunday, was filled with anger, and deep sadness. Thando Mgqolozana’s partner accused him publicly of horrific abuse. The literary community is mostly reacting in support of the brave Thabisa, and I hope that her loved ones will be able to keep her safe and help her find a way out of this hell and into healing. And even though I do not know her personally, I want to emphasise how much I admire what she did.

I have been thinking back to an incident quite a long time ago when I challenged Thando over something close to my heart in private – perhaps inadequately, but sincerely – and I have never forgotten his reaction, in words only, but words can be as powerful as fists. I did disclose to a few close friends at the time and made sure never to interact with him again, but that is where it ended for me. We so often create these whisper networks to protect one another, but whispers are not enough to stop monsters – they thrive on our silences – and only a few of their victims are brave enough to go public and accuse those who violate them.

I have tried, and mostly failed, to go up against abusive men’s influence in the literary community – in the world – and I still live with the consequences. That book is growing, i.e. festering, inside me.

I admire Thabisa’s courage. Deeply. I believe her.

To end on an uplifting, truly enriching literary story: I have been reading the anthology Our Ghosts Were Once People, edited by Bongani Kona. Many of my favourite local authors, including Bongani himself, contributed, and the book is beautiful. All the pieces I have read so far are enlightening, exquisitely written, and even if they have death and sometimes horror and trauma at their centre, there is something gentle and soothing in the storytelling. That is the gift of great writers.

Karin Schimke in Our Ghosts Were People Once, edited by Bongani Kona

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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


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