Tinfoil hat on the head, they come to my front door: no mask. I religiously whip out one from the box on my stoep and hand it over before I unlock.
“But it’s only a bad flu…”; “But it’s Level 1, lighten up…” Yes, flat-earther, but it’s age before stupidity. It’s me loving my bubble because I love life.
“Those who have stayed inside, wore masks in public and socially distanced during this entire pandemic are the same people who are used to doing the whole group project by themselves,” I see on Twitter. I’m that girl. Not neurotic; not hypochondriac; not obsessive. I’m just playing it safe – doing the whole project on my own.
And I silently wonder what happened to us and the new normal we discovered during Level 5: with nowhere to go and no one to see, we reassessed our lives. We started veggie gardens; read books we had put aside; spring cleaned; organised and made our souls lighter – and really, really had conversations with our nearest and dearest.
Now? I go shopping, pumping the foot pedal at the sanitising unit and not a drop comes out – and I seem to be the only one even bothering. People stream past me with masks around their chins. In the coffee shop not one mask is to be seen. At the door there’s no one spraying me from head to toe or even controlling the crowd anymore. It’s party time. We’re normal again. So are the traffic jams.
But we’re not, you know? It’s not a “here today, gone tomorrow” pandemic. It’s a “here to stay” one. The world has changed. For ever. But proudly South African, we never learn the lesson. I’ve swept my own floors, washed, cooked, polished because my helper is still not helping: she’s caring for one of Mbeki’s Aids babies and, like me, plays it safe.
Maybe too safe, but forgive me for not lightening up. Forgive me if my house is not the normal train station. Forgive me for not getting your sleep-over bed ready – yet. Forgive me for not joining you “for a nice supper”. I eat with those I locked down with because I trust them. And forgive me for insisting you wear your mask. I’m just that girl. I’m used to doing the whole project on my own.
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