This week, my fellow South Africans and I can once again visit our family members – a basic human right that the government of no country should withhold from its citizens.
I have not seen my son and my dear mother in a year… and, like the average person in Mzansi, I can’t see myself scraping the money together to go to Cape Town to be with my nearest and dearest soon. But although I can’t visit my mom, I still remember the mottos she raised me with: always wear newish underwear when you travel. Moisturise. And most importantly: look at the bright side.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a bright side to these dark days. I still have my health, as can be clearly seen in my fuller, fatter lockdown dad bod. I still have the debatable privilege of being loved by the lovely Snapdragon, my present wife. (I count this as a blessing – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.)
We are permitted to buy cigarettes and booze legally again, thanks to the generosity of our “doektator”. The cost of bootleg smokes and other excessively restrictive lockdown measures have ruined the last semblance of a budget in the Lotriet household. And I have made new friends, which is a big thing to me. I’m an extreme introvert who doesn’t make friends easily and every new friend is cherished.
People such as Abe, a shopkeeper whom I have met in my search for ciga… uhm… basic essentials. A guy who shares my passionate love for the wonderful game of cricket. We often exchanged pleasantries about the sport until I entered his shop one day and he told me “MS Dhoni has just announced his retirement!”
That day I realised I have visited his shop to drill for oil, but I have uncovered a diamond. On my way back, I drove past my Algerian barber, out on his daily run in his Springbok shirt. Of course I would love nothing more than chatting to my son about Joshua Cheptegei’s almost robotic 5 000m world record run.
But until then, I marvel about sports’ breathtaking ability to forge unlikely friendships, to bridge race, religion and nationality. While dragging on my now trusted illicit cigs. Because, like good friends, they were there for me when I needed them most.
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