LOCKDOWN – IS IT MASS SUICIDE?

follow-like-sheeps

Many years from now, future historians will be scratching their heads to figure out how the mass suicide in 2020 was sanctioned. And how was it possible that so many so-called developed countries, with the legacy of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and advanced technology at their disposal, were still caught with their pants down by a virus?

And, yes, by suicide, I mean actual suicide, but also the destruction of our livelihood, driving businesses into liquidation and damaging our mental state.

This article should be read in tandem with my previous post (The Emperor is Naked) where it was emphasised from the outset that I am not against the lockdown. On the contrary. I think it is the best way to contain the virus. My concern is about the way this lockdown is been managed.

In 1978, Jim Jones, leader of an American cult in the Guyanese jungle, ordered his followers to murder a US congressman and several journalists, then commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced fruit punch.

His followers, some acceptant and serene, others probably coerced, queued to receive cups of cyanide punch and syringes. The children were poisoned first, and can be heard crying and wailing on the commune’s own audio tapes, later recovered by the FBI.

In total  909 followers of Jones, including 304 children, died that day.

Decades later, survivors of the tragedy still remember being part of an organization that they devoted a good portion of their lives to. “The people were incredible,” says Jean Clancey. “People who were capable of committing themselves to something outside of their own self-interests.”

“We – all of us – were doing the right things but in the wrong place with the wrong leader,” adds Laura Johnston Kohl.

Tim Carter said, “There were so many lies that Jones told to people to create a state of siege mentality in the community, that even those that were making ‘a principled stand of revolutionary suicide’ probably were influenced a lot by the lies that he was telling them.”

Leslie Wagner-Wilson,  told Fox News: “There’s a need. People want to be a part of something. They want to feel safe; they want to feel a sense of community.

“In an environment like this”, Ms Wagner-Wilson cautions, “you might think there’s something wrong, but because everyone else is embracing it and clapping and being joyous, you look at yourself and say, ‘It must be me’”.

Familiar key words, aren’t they? Incredible people, committed, do the right thing, sense of community, feel safe, clapping and being joyous, etc.

At the time, after hearing about this horrible mass suicide for the first time, I was thinking to myself, how on earth is it possible for so many people to be influenced by one man? How can a parent feed their crying, unwilling children poison and then commit suicide? It’s madness.

Now, in 2020 I wonder no more. I’m experiencing it.

Currently, an estimated 2.6 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – is living under some kind of lockdown or quarantine. This is arguably the largest psychological experiment ever conducted.

Unfortunately, we already have a good idea of its results. In late February 2020, right before European countries mandated various forms of lockdowns, The Lancet , a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal , published a review of 24 studies documenting the psychological impact of quarantine. The findings offer a glimpse of what is brewing in hundreds of millions of households around the world.

In short, and perhaps unsurprisingly, people who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, irritability, emotional exhaustion, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Low mood and irritability specifically stand out as being very common, the study notes.

In just a two week period, suicide was the leading cause for over 338 “non-coronavirus deaths” in India due to distress triggered by the nationwide lockdown – 151 people killed themselves due to loneliness, withdrawal symptoms and  financial distress.

It is estimated that up to 150,000 Britons could die from non-coronavirus causes, caused by a spike in suicides and domestic violence, because of the UK’s lockdown. The pandemic is expected to have a huge knock-on effect on people’s mental health due to financial worries and a disruption to routine. As early as 6 April, it was published that an increasing number of mental health incidents had been reported to police.

The new-normal that we are trying to maintain is unsettling, in troubling and intense ways. Unnerving, because we really don’t know what tomorrow will be like. Apparently, for humans, living with uncertainty is harder than living with pain. According to writer and psychotherapist, Bryan Robinson, participants in an experiment who were told they would definitely receive a painful electric shock were calmer than those who were told that they had a 50% chance of receiving one. Our brains, argues Robinson, are wired to equate uncertainty with danger.

No wonder solitary confinement – being used in prisons to keep unruly prisoners in check – receive so much criticism for having detrimental psychological effects and, to some and in some cases, constituting torture.

In South Africa,  the national government’s Gender-based Violence Command Centre recorded more than 120 000 calls from victims who rang the national helpline for abused women and children in the first three weeks after the lockdown started – double the usual volume of calls.

The damage that COVID-19 is causing is irrefutable, but so are the effects of the lockdown. As a global community we are united in following these restrictions despite its adverse affects – such is the power of the ‘herd mentality’. Indeed, it is the only solution we have until a vaccination is found, but it doesn’t mean that we have to resign ourselves to the worst of these conditions. Perhaps our leaders can take a leaf from a publication in The Lancet, titled “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it”:

  • Information is key; people who are quarantined need to understand the situation.
  • Effective and rapid communication is essential.
  • Supplies (both general and medical) need to be provided.
  • The quarantine period should be short and the duration should not be changed unless in extreme circumstances.
  • Most of the adverse effects come from the imposition of a restriction of liberty; voluntary quarantine is associated with less distress and fewer long-term complications.
  • Public health officials should emphasise the altruistic choice of self-isolating.

Stay safe!

skape

 

THE EMPEROR IS NAKED!

I want to say something and I am going to say something!
 
The last time I aired my opinion on this topic, people questioned my sanity. So, I kept quiet to see how things develop. I’ve realised, however, that more and more people are thinking along the same lines.
 
I have to emphasise, though, that, like any sane human being, I value life as much as the next person. And, with friends having had contracted the virus, I am also aware of the dangers this little blighter poses. I acknowledge all the benefits of the lockdown – minimization of the spreading of the virus, a time-out from the rat race, fresher air, a breather for Mother Earth and many more. I am not against the lockdown – let’s be clear about that. What I am questioning is the implementation and managing thereof. Because, if this lockdown is not managed in a responsible way and with the necessary forethought, the impact and knock-on effect of it will dwarf the havoc the coronavirus is wreaking on our health.
 
From day one I, like many other people, was suspicious of the origin of Covid-19 and it is not always easy to distinguish between fake and real news. More and more countries, like the USA and Australia want a proper investigation with China opposing this notion with all their might. Why?
 
The objective of the World Health Organisation is:
 
“To coordinate and oversee the procurement of health services. To immerse in disease inspection and analysis. To involve itself in promoting health and also to impart health education. endorse health promotional programs.”
 
Shouldn’t they’ve been prepared for an outbreak like this? I mean, this is not the first pandemic to hit the world and they must have studied and learned something from the previous ones. It is one of their main functions – the procurement of health services. It makes one wonder how effective all these different bodies are in capitalising on all the funds and expertise at their disposal. And then I’m not even talking about the Health Departments of respective governments.
 
In Britain, scores of health and care workers have to bravely continue their work without enough protective equipment. Many have lost their lives and many are still exposed to the dangers of this virus because of these shortages. I cannot face another politician trying to lull (fool!) us with empty promises and contradicting, mind-numbing rules. People in care homes are sitting ducks because care workers spread (and die themselves of!) the disease due failed government intervention. In South Africa, people are not allowed to buy alcohol and tobacco-products and there are even restrictions on purchase of what they deem to be ‘non-essential clothing’. In contrast, there are thousands of low income households that have been completely cut off from any source of food or income. One now requires to have a permit to be able to donate food and other essentials, in an effort to prevent contact and possible contamination. This would make sense if the government made such permits readily accessible, or provided an adequate aid to these vulnerable communities. But they have fallen short. It makes even the most upstanding law abiding citizen question the government’s priorities when they have failed to provide. Apparently the coronavirus takes a nap between 06:00 and 09:00, because that’s the only time people are allowed to step outside for recreational purposes. This is happening because we all are so full of fear the “emperor” had instilled in us, that no one would tell him (or demand) the truth. We need to stand up like that little boy and reveal that the emperor is naked. Or are we really willing to silently follow a “naked emperor” with daily statistics of doom and gloom and promises while everything around us is collapsing. No revelation of a plan to tackle the bigger issue.
 
In many countries, with the corona-scare looming over a fragile economy, scores of hungry, jobless, moneyless people are taking to the streets in an effort to find something to eat.
 
All over the world businesses are closing their doors permanently with enormous job losses. The economical, social and personal impact of this lockdown will be catastrophic, not only on business level, but on all levels. Shattered dreams, poverty, stress and many more consequences of this lockdown is a ticking time bomb and will inevitably lead to an increase in crime, depression, despair, suicides and family murders. Already we see an increase in reports of domestic abuse and pressure on food banks.
 
At the moment I, like so many people, feel like canon fodder while the powers that be keep us under lockdown – playing the fiddle while everything around us is burning. But hey, who cares? When we finally emerge from our shelters after the lockdown, we will count the costs, we will worry about what is left of the economy, heal the emotional and psychological scars, count how many families have survived the hunger and poverty, how many are still alive, how many will have the will and means to carry on.
 
Until then, wear your mask, stay safe… and healthy. And pray that you will not became a casualty of this crazy war. Collateral damage.
 
It’s off my chest now. You can send over the guys with the straitjacket. Just make sure they are wearing protective clothing – oh, I forgot, there isn’t enough protective equipment.

IS DAAR WERKLIK ‘N BEGIN EN ‘N EINDE?

time portal

Sedert ek jare gelede die rolprent, “Somewhere in Time” met die pragtige Jane Seymour en Christopher Reeve gesien het, het ek ‘n fassinasie met reise oor tydsgrense heen. Ouens wat baie slimmer as ek is, gebruik terme soos “geslote tydagtige kurwes”, “kosmiese stringe” en “kwantum swaartekrag” in ‘n poging om hul teorieë te staaf – volgens hulle kan daar (in teorie) wel oor tydsgrense heen gereis word. My oupa sou gesê het, “Jong, e-e-ek, weet darem nie”. Ten spyte daarvan dat daar oor die jare heen al baie e-e-ek-weet- darem-nie’s verkeerd bewys is toe ons wel met selfone vakansiefoto’s begin rondstuur en banksake gedoen het, vliegtuie vinniger as klank kon vlieg en enkele tieners self hulle kamers aan die kant begin maak het (ja, dis waar!), is ek nogal geneig om met my oupa saam te stem.

Ek het al baie gewens ek kon die tyd terugdraai om iets anders te doen as hoe ek dit gedoen het. Of gou gaan kyk wat wag in die toekoms voordat ek ‘n belangrike besluit neem. Ek kan egter nie sien hoe tyd, soos ‘n CD of DVD, ge-rewind of ge-forward kan word nie – om baie redes.

Wat ek wel die laaste tyd oor wonder, is die konsep van tyd in die ewigheidskonteks. En hier kom ‘n baie groot SÊ-NOU-MAAR in die prentjie in. Want hoe sal ons nou ooit met sekerheid weet?

Sê nou maar tyd het nie ‘n begin of einde nie? (En daar verloor ek nou die helfte van my lesers! ‘n Waarskuwing aan die oorblywende een – dit word selfs meer kompleks.)

Tyd, soos die gemiddelde mens dit ken, word gemeet met horlosies en kalenders en is gekoppel aan seisoene asook son- en maanbewegings. Maar dit is relatief, want tydsones kom ook nog in die prentjie in. Wanneer die mense in Australië die sonsopkoms van ‘n nuwe dag bewonder, maak mense op ander plekke gereed vir ‘n nagrus. Ek onthou toe my pa in Suid-Afrika dood is, was dit na middernag daar, maar nog voor middernag hier in Engeland. Ek en my sus het dus verskillende datums vir my pa se sterftyd.

Ek wonder egter oor ‘n ander konsep van tyd.

Dit het alles met ‘n droom begin. Ek droom ek loop ingedagte op ‘n pad. Skielik bevind ek my op ‘n totaal onherkenbare plek – ‘n vreemde dimensie. Niks lyk soos ek dit op aarde ken nie. Ek raak byna paniekerig en wonder hoe ek daar gekom het. Ek besef dat ek verdwaal is en draai om. Ek begin terughardloop en kom by ‘n vreemde ingang – een van daai wat soos water  in sci-fi-films lyk (die Engelse noem dit ‘n “portal”). Met mening spring ek terug deur hierdie “portal” … en skrik wakker. Ek wonder toe of ek dalk vir ‘n oomblik dood was en weer bygekom het. Was ek vir ‘n oomblik in ‘n ander dimensie? (Iemand wat ek ken het ‘n hartaanval gekry toe hy die huis instap en soos ‘n boom neergeval. Talle tekens het agterna daarop gedui dat hy vir ‘n oomblik dood was en met die slag van die val weer teruggebring is.)PORTAL

Dis toe dat ek begin wonder oor die mens se bestaan – die geboorte en dood, die begin en die einde. En daarna …

Hierdie ge-wonder is natuurlik niks nuuts nie en is so oud soos die mensdom self. Baie mense se gedagtes oor die onderwerp word as die alfa en omega (verskoon die woordspeling) verkoop en talle godsdienste en sektes is al daar rondom gebou. Van my kleintyd af weet ek van die hemel en die hel. Soos talle godsdienste vertel, is die hel ‘n plek van ewige straf vir dinge wat jy tydens jou leeftyd verkeerd gedoen het en die hemel is ‘n plek van ewige beloning omdat jy soet was en glo. Ander godsdienste vertel weer van reinkarnasie of die onderwêreld.

Ek weet dat ek, lewende wese, uit twee primêre dinge bestaan: weefsel en energie. Alle lewende organismes bestaan daaruit. Weefsel, in die mens, bestaan uit water, proteïne, vette, koolhidrate en minerale. Wanneer jy jou laaste asem uitblaas, of jy nou deur ‘n leeu opgevreet en uitgeskei word en of jy nou begrawe word, jou liggaam word basies kompos. Dit word afgebreek in verskillende prosesse tot ‘n veelvoud van stowwe. Jou brein ook – jou geheue word uitgewis. Daar bly niks van die weefselgedeelte van jou liggaam oor soos mense dit onthou nie. (Alhoewel, ek wonder ook baie oor die oorplasing van DNA, menslike chimeras en sulke goed, maar dit is ‘n gesprek vir anderdag). Jou energie, egter, gaan nie tot niet nie. Einstein het ons al vertel dat energie, veral in ‘n ope sisteem soos jou liggaam of die aarde (waar ons energie met ons omgewing uitruil), nie vernietig word nie, maar bloot aangaan, meestal in ‘n ander hoedanigheid. Energie word dus getransformeer.

En dit is op hierdie punt dat my ge-wonder groter word.

Veronderstel (daai sê-nou-maar!) ons almal  lewe in ‘n spesifieke dimensie (tans die aarde) in ‘n spesifieke tyd op ‘n tydlyn. Die lyn strek terug die ewigheid in en so ook vorentoe die ewigheid in (onthou, die heelal is onmeetlik groot en, so word daar gedink, brei steeds uit). Een heuglike dag op aarde soen jou ouers mekaar, een ding lei tot die volgende en, siedaar!, jy word op aarde verwek – met die liggaam waarin jy hopelik die aarde gaan bewandel. Jy is steeds net ‘n bondel water, proteïne, vette, koolhidrate en minerale – totdat energie jou lewe gee. Jou “power pack start jou op”.  Jou “power pack” gee nou lewe aan die vorm wat daai water en vet en goete aangeneem het – jou liggaam. Die “power pack” kon dalk net sowel in ‘n koei of ‘n boom ook beland het, maar dit was vir jou bestem. Of hoe?  Nou skop ‘n menigte interne en eksterne faktore in om jou te vorm – jou persoonlikheid, jou geloof, jou kulturele waardes, intelligensie en so aan.

 Waar kom daardie energie vandaan en waaraan het dit lewe gegee, wat was dit voordat dit getransformeer en in my liggaam kom vestig het?

Is dit ons siel?

Terug na my droom. Sê nou maar daardie energiebal beweeg op hierdie tydlyn langs, dalk selfs heen en weer – vir ewig. Hy beweeg deur “portals” van een dimensie na die ander en neem verskillende vorme aan van een dimensie na die volgende. Dalk bly hy selfs twee of meer kere op aarde in verskillende liggame of vorme. Binne-in hierdie dimensies mag daar dalk, soos op aarde, ‘n verloop wees, ‘n geskiedenis met tydsaanduidings wat deur die wesens van daardie dimensie geskep is. Hierdie dimensies is egter onafhanklik en totaal verskillend van mekaar. Wat in een dimensie gebeur, het geen relevansie in ‘n ander nie. Dis hoekom daar geen konsep van tyd vir die bewegende “power pack” is nie.ENERGIEBAL

Is die hemel of hel een van hierdie dimensies? Soos in Monopolie. Go to jail – of dan nou hel/hemel.

Ja, ek wonder sommer. Maar hoe sal ons nou weet?

Haai wag, dis teetyd! Wel, ten minste hier waar ek nou is. Ek en my “power pack”. Op hierdie spesifieke tydstip…  Ag, vergeet dit!

IS THERE REALLY A BEGINNING AND AN END?

time portal

Ever since I watched the movie “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and the gorgeous Jane Seymour years ago, I’ve had a fascination with time traveling. People who are much smarter than me use terms such as “closed time-like curves”, “cosmic strings” and “quantum gravity” in an attempt to substantiate their theories – according to them, time traveling is possible (theoretically, that is). My grandfather, with raised eyebrows, would have said, “Mmm… that remains to be seen…”. Despite the fact that, over the years, many “remains-to-be-seens” have been proven wrong with us now being able to send our holiday pictures and do banking transactions with our cell phones, aircrafts flying faster than sound and some teenagers even began tidying up their rooms  (yes it’s true, someone told me!), I tend to agree with my grandfather.

There were many occasions where I would have wished to be able to turn back time in order to change something or do something differently from the way I have done it. Or to see what the future holds before I make an important decision. However, for many reasons I cannot see how time can be rewound or forwarded like a CD or DVD,

What I’ve been wondering about lately, though, is the concept of time in the eternal context. At this point a very big WHAT IF comes into play, because how will we ever know for sure?

What if time has no beginning or end? And (bang!) there goes half my readers. Advance warning to the remaining one – it gets even more peculiar.

Time, as the average person knows it, is measured by clocks and calendars and is linked to seasons as well as solar and lunar movements. But this way of measuring time is relative, because time zones determine time on earth. When people in Australia admire the sunrise of a new day, people in other places are getting ready for a night’s rest. (I remember when my dad passed away in South Africa, it was past midnight there, but over here, in England, it was still before midnight. My sister and I, therefore, have different dates for my dad’s passing.)

I also wonder about another concept of time.

It all started with a dream. Lost in thought, I was walking on a pathway. Suddenly I found myself in a completely bizarre place, unrecognizable – an unknown dimension. Nothing resembled anything on earth. I almost panicked and wondered how I got there, realising that I was lost. I turned around, started to run back from where I came from and arrived at an extraordinary portal – like the ones you see in sci-fi movies, those that look like water. With an almighty jump I went back through this portal… and woke up. I wondered if I’d died for a second or two and came back again. Was I in another dimension for a moment? (I know someone who suffered a heart attack when he walked into the house, and fell down like a tree. There were signs, afterwards, indicating that he was dead for a moment and was brought back to life by the impact of the fall.)PORTAL

It was then that I began to wonder about our earthly existence – birth and death, the beginning and the end. And after that …

Of course, this pondering of mine is nothing new and is as old as humanity itself. Many people’s thoughts on the subject are sold as the alpha and omega (excuse the pun) and many religions and sects have been built around it. Since my childhood I’ve known about heaven and hell. As many religions would tell you, hell is a place of eternal punishment for things you have done wrong during your lifetime and heaven is a place of eternal reward for believing and being good. Other religions believe in reincarnation or the underworld.

I know that I, as a living being, consist of two primary things: tissue and energy. All living organisms are made up of this. Tissue, in humans, consists of water, protein, fats, carbohydrates and minerals. When you let go of your last breath, whether you were eaten and excreted by a lion or whether you are buried, your body is basically composted. It is broken down through different processes into a multiplicity of substances. Your brain too – your memory is wiped out. There is nothing left of the tissue-part of your body as people would have remembered it. (Although, I also wonder a lot about the transfer and destruction – or not – of DNA, human chimeras and things like that, but this is a conversation for another day). Your energy, however, does not go to waste. Einstein has already told us that energy, especially in an open system such as your body or the earth (where we exchange energy with our surroundings) could not be destroyed, but merely continues, usually in a different capacity. Energy is thus transformed.

And it is at this point that my pondering rapidly expands.

Suppose (remember that what-if?) we all live in a specific dimension (currently earth) at a specific time on a timeline. The line extends back into eternity and also into future eternity (remember, the universe is incalculably large and, it is thought, continues to expand). One glorious day your parents kissed, one thing lead to another and (voila!) you are being conceived – with the body that you will, hopefully, walk the earth. You are still just a bundle of water, protein, fats, carbohydrates and minerals – until energy gives you life. Your power pack starts you up. Your power pack now gives life to the shape that all those water and fat and goodies has taken – your body. The “power pack” might just as well have ended up in a cow or a tree, but it was destined for you.  Or what? Now a multitude of internal and external factors kick in to shape you –  your personality, cultural values, intelligence, religion, and so on.

Where did that energy come from? What or who was given life by it previously, what was it before it was transformed and settled into my body?

 Is this our soul?

Back to my dream. Let’s just imagine that the energy ball moves along this timeline, maybe even back and forth – forever. It moves through “portals” from one dimension to another and takes different forms from one dimension to the next. Maybe it even stays on earth two or more times in different bodies or forms. Within these dimensions, there may or may not be a sequence, like on earth. A history with time-based indicators created by the beings of that dimension. These dimensions, though,  are independent and totally different from each other. What happens in one dimension has no relevance in another. That is why there is no concept of time for the moving power pack.ENERGIEBAL

Is heaven or hell one of these dimensions? As in Monopoly. Go to jail – or hell / heaven.

Yes, I wonder. But how will we ever know?

Gosh, look at the time. It’s teatime! Well, at least where I am now. Me and my power pack. At this present time …  Oh, forget it!

HOE VREEMD IS “VREEMDE” VERSKYNSELS?

outer body experience

Ek onthou twee voorvalle, as kind, waar my liewe ma baie ontsteld was. Ek moet benadruk dat my ma ‘n diep gelowige mens was wat haar nie met “nonsens” opgehou het en nie bekend daarvoor was dat sy kluitjies sou bak nie. Veral nie om aandag te soek nie.

Toe ek die oggend wakker word, het ek haar in ‘n toestand by die kombuistafel aangetref. Ek was nog in die laerskool en dit is dus te verstane dat sy my aanvanklik nie met sulke goed wou opsaal nie. Pa was egter by die werk en ek dink sy het iemand gesoek om mee te gesels. As oudste kind was ek op daardie stadium al dikwels haar klankbord.

“Ek het myself laasnag op die bed sien lê, langs jou pa,” het sy huiwerig begin toe ek haar vra wat fout is. “Ek het gesweef en kon myself op die bed sien lê slaap.”

“Was dit ‘n droom?” het ek skepties gevra.

“Dis wat ek nie weet nie. Alles was so duidelik. Ek was bang en wou wakker word, maar kon nie.” Haar hande het liggies gebewe en dit het gelyk of sy wou huil. “Ek het probeer skreeu, maar kon nie ‘n geluid uitkry nie.”

Nie baie lank daarna nie het dit weer gebeur en weer het dit dieselfde reaksie by Ma ontlok. Groot ontsteltenis.

Ek het in die biblioteek gaan oplees en gesien dat daar baie opgetekende gevalle van buite-liggaam ervarings was. Dit het Ma egter nie gemakliker daaroor laat voel nie.

Sy het haar ervaring met niemand anders bespreek nie. “Die mense sal dink ek word gek.”

Ek is, soos my pa en ma was, ook een van daardie skeptiese mense wat altyd wonder oor hierdie “onverklaarbare” goed. Voordat ons dit nie eerstehands beleef of gesien het nie, neem ons dit met ‘n knippie sout. Maar ek is oop vir oortuiging. Dalk soos Tomas van die Bybel.

Jare later het ek ‘n pen verloor waaraan ek baie sentimentele waarde geheg het. Dit was ‘n silwer Parker wat ek by iemand baie spesiaals gekry het. Ek was baie ongelukkig oor die verlies. Een nag droom ek van die pen en sien duidelik waar hy is – op die mees onwaarskynlikste plek by die werk. Die volgende oggend is ek vroeg by die werk en loop eerste ding, ietwat skepties, na daardie plek toe. Ek is egter nuuskierig en, moet ek erken, hoopvol steek ek my hand in die gleuf in. Ja, ek vat toe die pen raak.

Soos reeds vermeld, was my pa selfs nog meer skepties oor hierdie dinge as ek. Enkele maande voor sy dood, neem Ma vir hom sy oggendkoffie in die bed – en tref hom verwese en in trane aan (om Pa in trane te sien was op sy eie ‘n vreemde verskynsel).

Hy kon nie dadelik praat nie, maar na ‘n ruk kom dit stamelend: “Hulle was hier, die drie van hulle”.

“Waar was wie, my lief?” wou Ma weet.

“Net daar by die voetenent van die bed… die drie…” Verder kon hy nie kom voordat emosies weer die oorhand gekry het nie. Ma het gedink om hom maar te los – hy sou wel later vir haar vertel.

Enkele weke later, kort voor sy dood, is Ma saam met Kleinsus winkels toe. Terug by die huis tref hulle vir Pa op die sitkamerbank in dieselfde toestand as daai oggend in die bed aan.

“Hulle was weer hier…” is al wat hy baie emosioneel kon uitkry.

Hy is dood sonder dat ons weet wie hom besoek het.

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Enkele jare later is ek en Vroulief in die vliegtuig van Duitsland af op pad Engeland toe. Kort na opstyging, let ek ‘n vreemde ligbal langs die vliegtuig op. My onmiddellike reaksie is dat dit ‘n weerkaatsing in die klein, ronde venstertjie moet wees en kyk rond om die oorsprong van die weerkaatsing te sien. Ek sien niks. Ek wys vir Vroulief die bal, so groot soos ‘n wasmasjien  en so half in ‘n ronde wolkie gehul. Sy, en so ook ander mense, sien hom ook. Die bal bly langs die vliegtuig. Later beweeg hy vorentoe, weer terug en toe onder die vliegtuig in. Toe is hy weg. Ek kan myself steeds skop dat my selfoon bokant my kop in die bagasierak was.

Ek het vir baie jare oor hierdie bal gewonder en het my eie verklarings probeer kry. Eendag lees ek toe van balvormige weerlig – ‘n rare fenomeen wat, na bewering, al deur mense waargeneem is. Dit word normaalweg met donderstorms geassosieer, maar die lig glim baie langer as die blitsige weerligstraal. Op die internet is daar selfs video’s van sulke balle. Ek wonder nou of statiese elektrisiteit, toe die vliegtuig so deur die wolke beweeg het, nie dalk die ligbal kon veroorsaak het nie.

So wonder ek oor baie goed. Soos daai ou huurhuis waar ons beslis nie alleen was nie – die een waar die jong verpleegster, kort voordat ons daar ingetrek het, selfmoord gepleeg het. En daardie dringende drang wat my forseer het om af te trek om die bande na te gaan, eendag toe ons hele gesin op reis was. Ek trek langs die pad af en sien toe dat een van die bande ‘n yslike blaas gevorm het en op die punt was om te bars. Ek wonder ook oor daai aand toe ek nog in die hoërskool was en ek alleen by die huis  op my bed na die Top Twenty lê en luister het. Ek hoor toe duidelik hoe die kombuisdeur oopgaan (maar nie weer toegaan nie), iemand teen die kombuisstoel stamp, iets soos ‘n bos sleutels op die tafel gooi en by die voordeur uitgaan. Die voordeur is met ‘n slag toegeslaan. Toe ek gaan kyk of dit die ander huismense is wat terug is, is daar niemand nie. Die agterdeur is steeds gesluit, die stoele staan netjies en die voordeur is op knip. Ek weet ek was wawyd wakker. Die huismense het eers later teruggekom.

Daar was ook die kloppe aan die deur, drie voorvalle, die aand voordat nabyfamilie dood is. Ons het elke keer om die kombuistafel gesit en almal het die klop aan die agterdeur gehoor. Ma het nog gesê ek moet versigtig wees toe ek opstaan om die deur oop te maak. Daar was niemand. Drie keer het dit gebeur, ja.

O ja, en Les, ons 81-jarige buurman in ‘n vorige blyblek van ons hier in Engeland. Hy het alzheimersiekte gehad en nie aldag geweet wat rondom hom aangaan nie. Een oggend word hy wakker met ‘n dringendheid wat hom jaag om by sy beste vriend, Allan, in ‘n naburige dorpie uit te kom. Sy vrou, Dorothy, het verpligtinge gehad en belowe hom dat hulle die agtermiddag daarheen kan ry. Sy het besig geraak en later besef dit is baie stil. Les was skoonveld. Sy bel haar seun, wat dadelik kom. Dorothy het net ‘n gedagte dat hulle na die buurdorpie toe moet ry. Nie ver van Allan se huis af nie, tref hulle vir Les aan – flink op pad na sy vriend toe. Hulle laai hom op en ry na Allan toe.  Les is verpletter toe hulle die nuus hoor. Allan is ‘n halfuur tevore skielik aan ‘n hartaanval dood. ‘n Maand later het Les sy vriend gevolg.

Ek is steeds skepties en soek logiese verklarings. Soms sukkel ek.

Wonder julle ook so oor die goed?

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SUPERMARK-RILLERS

Ek’s ‘n dapper man, kyk hoe stap ek deur die mark …
Vanoggend kry ek hulle weer daar – sommer vroegdag al. Hulle is altyd daar, in die supermark.
 
Ek sê en doen (gewoonlik) niks, maar vroulief ken al, na vele sakke sout, my liggaamstaal. “Bedaar, André, bedaar.”
 
Daar is ‘n spiertjie in my wang wat dadelik spring wanneer ek hulle teëkom. Die intensiteit en frekwensie van die spierspringery hang net af van watter een van die mense ek raakloop. Gewoonlik is hulle egter almal daar en teen die tyd dat ons by die kassiere kom, lyk ek soos Chief Inspector Dreyfus in die Pink Panther-flieks.
 
Ek verwys natuurlik na daardie mense wat ‘n vinnige besoek aan die supermark tot kort voor ‘n beroerte kan laat draai.
 
Vanoggend gryp ek ‘n klein trollie, want ek is (dalk altyd?) haastig en het min goedjies om te kry. Die spiertjie spring liggies en net een keer toe ek sien hoe ‘n oorgewig ou – middeljarig – gebukkend oor sy trollie hang met sy arms gesteun op die handvatsel. Ek sê niks, maar ek dink: “Nee man, loop regop – mens is nie so lamlendig nie,” veral toe hy heel behendig rek om ‘n 24-pak bier in sy trollie te laai.
 
In die katkosgang af hoor ek nog ‘n ou sommer van ver af en Wangspier spring sommer twee keer. Sjloef-sjloef kom hy agter sy trollie aan geskuifel. Die sleepvoet-geluid laat my ore suis en my vel vol knoppies uitslaan soos die meisies s’n, destyds, in die klas wanneer juffrou Coetzee se lang naels per ongeluk oor die swartbord geskuur het. Of soos vroulief wanneer sy die roomys se houtstokkie aflek. “Tel op jou voete, tel tog net jou voete op!”
 
Die spiertjie begin warm raak toe ek die ouer man, met sy trollie dwars in die middel van die gang, sien. Hy staan daar voor die koekierak soos iemand wat verdwaal is, besluiteloos, met ‘n uitdrukking van pyn op sy gesig – mond oopgesper, skrefiesoë gly oor die pakkies voor hom. Kry ‘n ander bril, Oom – daai bifocals werk nie meer vir jou nie.
 
Terwyl ek ewe geduldig (mos) wag dat hy sy trollie uit die pad kry, spring wangspier in overdrive toe die vyfjarige klein blikskottel, wat luidkeels aandring om die trollie te stoot, my hakskene vir die derde keer stamp. “Be carefull,” kom dit vir ‘n derde keer van sy ma af terwyl haar kyk in my rigting insinueer dat ek dalk te stadig beweeg. Ek beduie na die trollie voor my en in my kop begin woorde vorm wat ek net-nou, wanneer ek alleen in die kar is, sal uitlaat.
 
Behalwe ook vir die ouens wat ‘n appel loop en eet en die stronk op ‘n blikkie ingelegde worsies gaan wegsteek, die rakpakkers wat die gang blokkeer, die gillende kinders, die koffie wat na ‘n ander rak verskuif is, die twee ou tannies wat in die middel van die gangetjie resepte uitruil …(spiertrek!) … is daar niks waarvoor ek in ‘n supermark skrik nie.
 
Ek dink ek word ‘n grumpy ou man.