Updated: Apr 10, 2020
Today has been a day of paradoxes. Contrasts that drew me out of reality and into reflection. My reflections are disturbed by conflicting thoughts and emotions crisscrossing my mind. For the first time in a very long time, I woke up ready to get up and to stay up. I was ready for my online Resilience and Resourcefulness session. Not content prepared. Prepared. Ready, not in my head, but in my soul, in my bones. The session went beautifully. Like music. Like flow. No part of me was anywhere but there; in the virtual room with participants who showed up in honour of themselves. When the session was complete, I felt complete. In delivering this session, I had honoured all the parts of me; and in honouring all the parts of me, I welcomed a deep tranquility and I continued my day in a state of gratitude and ease. After chatting with my Dad, I nipped out to get a few supplies, mainly bread. Enough to ensure no need to pop out again for at least a week. Until the end of lockdown. I took the kids with me for the drive. It's really just up the road, but the poor things had been housebound since before the 5th of March, and they really wanted to go out and sport their hitherto unused masks. I feel really bad for the kids. Not just my kids, but all kids. They're not made for this. They're made for play, fun and, adventures. They're meant to dwell the world and their imaginations in the companionship of their playmates. And so I indulged my children, and because they came with me, I drove instead of walking as I had originally intended. We agreed that they'd get out of the car, but not come into the store. I wanted them to roam and see what lockdown meant for stores. I wanted them to know that this was not just the house-arrest that they were enduring. I wanted them to understand to the best of their comprehension how severely this lockdown was affecting trade and people's livelihoods. Although it's fairly small, the little shopping center up the road from us sports quite a number of stores. I'd say about 25, maybe more. As we walked past closed stores, some of which housed my kids favourite brands and gimmicks, I watched the admonishment settle on their young faces. Hearing about something, understanding something, and really getting it, are very different things. To the extent that they are able to, something very real dawned on them. Their young minds and their young hearts leaped with compassion and with concern. Would the employees in the stores be paid? How would they pay their Bill's? What about their kids? Would all the businesses open again? What about us? Mommy and Daddy are self-employed, what if our customers don't have money? What about their school friends, so-and-so, and so-and-so? How can we help? I didn't know the answers to all their questions. I wondered the same things. I assured them that no crisis is without its heroes and its rainbows. I assured them that every crisis was an invitation to transformation. I told them about the major businesses that are born from times like these. I was struck by how easily they made the connections, especially Amaanah. With our little excursion at an end, the kids were to return to the car, and give other humans a wide birth of a car's length. I made my way to get our breads. Including today, 6 would be sufficient to see us through to the scheduled end of lockdown. No further outings required. With ease and without hesitation, I grabbed my 6 loaves of bread and en route to the pay point, my preferred brand of coffee was well priced, so I grabbed two jars, and a choccie for each of the kids. And then, in that moment an entire lifetime engulfed me. With choccie in hand, a war erupted inside of me. It popped and it exploded and I went on the fritz.
My tranquility and my wholeness shattered. Destroyed. A battle was being waged on multiple fronts within me simultaneously. Shame in my heart. I felt gluttonous, embarrassed and so very ashamed; almost filthy and depraved. Was I stockpiling bread? Was I operating from a place of scarcity? Of self-preservation? At the expense of others?I've never in my life frozen bread. I used to think that people who froze bread were weirdos. Scarcity mongers.
My mother never stockpiled bread! Or anything. She gave away bread. Not only did she give away bread, but she also gave it away at the very time that there was insufficient in the house for my parents to eat! During this lockdown period what the hell was I doing? I was grabbing bread from the comfort of my freezer. Set up safely. Untroubled by the traumas of the world. Who the hell have I become! What would my mother say? Would she knit her eyebrows at me with embarrassment? With shame? My mind charged into the fray. This is sensible. Practical. This makes lockdown compliance achievable. Its defense was weak. Sure..... That's why your kids are outside right? I call BS!
Ghaalieb is going to have a shit fit! I concluded an agreement with his children in conflict with his request. WTF! What if my invoices aren't honoured? Ghaalieb's work has come to a standstill. I might as well fill the cupboards now while I can. This lockdown must end. My fear collapsed and rage launched from my throat. I can't stand Ramaphosa! He makes me violently ill. He is celebrating this damned virus. He is being celebrated because of this virus. He is part of the locust machinery that has rendered this beautiful country incapable of responding to a violent onslaught by this virus. This virus has literally salvaged the impotent, self- aggrandizing chief's presidency. He puts frontline health care workers in play with no protection and he also has the nerve to make jokes in his flirtations with journalists. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. He takes action against a deputy minister for breaking lockdown, but her fraudulent and treasonous conduct gets not even a mention from him. F@#& I hate him! Aaarrrghhhhh!! And before you say it all takes time, I call BS on that too. Covid 19 proves what he can do. It takes political will, and political will requires will! He doesn't have an ounce of what it takes to lead this country post lockdown. And those dolts that rock up on my timeline celebrating him for doing the only thing he could do! What the heck are they smoking! What were his options, given the violence he and his compatriots have sustained against the county's infrastructure, psyche and values over the past two and a half decades!Aaaarhggghhhh! I'm having a full-blown mental and emotional floer-moer. Should I get more supplies? How far down the hole will we slide? How does one anticipate and prepare for what's to come? Especially with this F-ing billionaire brown noser at the helm. My chest is hurting. My left arm is acting up. My soul compassionately intervenes, 'have faith, My Love. Allah will provide. You have enough. You will always have enough. You will always share what you have. You, My Love, are Enough'. My gut sings my soul's chorus. My limbs soften. Now, I just want to cry.
I reach the pay point. How long could that have been? 10, 20, maybe thirty seconds? God! that was a lot!
I'm exhausted; my mind is splintered. It wants to crumble. My skull feels pulverized and my brain exposed, and tears want to drop from my eyes. My soul wants to soothe my broken heart, but my heart it retreating into the shadows. I'm breathing a bit heavier through my mask, my specs start to fog up. I am relieved. The teller can't see my eyes clearly. I'm glad. But I'm anxious. And the guilt is still pulling at the corner of my mouth. The battles are abated, but they are unresolved. I bite my bottom lip aggressively. I resist the urge to explain my purchase to the teller. I make my payment and I flee. It turns out that a friend of ours encountered the kids outside. He took a pic and shared his pic of the 'delinquents' with Ghaalieb.
My scattered state is matched by my children's troubled state. They feel like the delinquents he had described them to be. We had left home with strict instructions that the kids were not to get out of the car. I don't like rules. They make us dumb. They make us numb. They destroy our self-efficacy. The kids learned. There was no contact. I resisted the now new worries that were springing to life in my belly. I continued the excursion. We drove past the kids favourite McDonald's. Further up Beyer's Naude Drive, they saw complete business complexes locked down. Even the beggars have thrown in the towel and vacated their spots. 'How will they eat?' one of the kids ask. It was a Ghost Town. The severity hit home. NEVER have they seen this desertion on this busy street. Not even on a Christmas day. Our return home was not as troubled as I thought it might be. Ghaalieb had other preoccupations. His own worries and concerns buffered his displeasure. I continued to think about food. The supply of food. Access to food. How will this nation feed itself? Whose responsibility is it to feed the nation? What does feeding the nation mean? Why do we go hungry when food is free? Is food free? Who made it not free? How do we let go of the shackles of our minds? Where have we lost our freedom? Who must make us free? Food is free. It was cold, but I went outside. I saw answers in our garden. Seeds scattered in a small patch of ground bursting with the promise of lovely delectable fresh food. Nourishment.
My anxieties and frustrations and confusions were swimming in my head aimlessly. Even the beautiful session I had today now traumatised me. My technology has been testing me and now my ability to send the participants the links I had promised was being compromised.
I surrendered. In my state of utter hopelessness and helplessness, I surrendered. I looked to my Creator to visit me with peace. The response I received was magical. It was that the world would pray with me today. 3 Big religions observing big holy periods. In the midst of this virus and this isolation and this social distancing, we don't pray alone. We pray collectively. I prayed that we all pray for the same thing. The evening proceeded calmly, with us tuning into a broadcast to commemorate Laylatul Baraa, (Lalatunnish-shabaan / ruwa). As we countdown the lockdown we start our count-up to Ramadaan. Today I've lived through sublime tranquility only to become stuck in feverish anguish. So diverse are the emotions that we harbour within us. So far apart in experience, yet so close in proximity are these lands that dwell inside of us.
Is this what is meant by 'the human experience '?
I pray for my salvation. I pray for my mother. I pray for my father. I pray for my uncle, pictured here, who had passed away 14 years ago today. I pray for my mom-inlaw. I pray for Aunty Bana and Uncle Ebrahim. I pray for all the hands and hearts that raised me. They're my Aunts, they're my Uncles, they're my neighbours. They all swim around in my mind. Too many to record here, but they're on my mind and they're in my heart and in my prayers.
I pray for our collective salvation. I'm in pain and I write this from a place of pain. I write this from a place so far removed from the frivolity of a mere day before. I know it will pass. I know that before it passes, I will have grown. I will have to bid farewell to a part of me and I will have to welcome a new part to me. I will grow. I want to grow. I want peace. I want contentment. But for now, I gratefully receive comforting cuddles from my children before I make my way to sleep.