Don’t go out. Don’t go near. Don’t uncover. Just don’t!
We are living the dream.
Those festivities we avoided with such flippant negligence is now a distant memory.
Zoom. Zoom. Google Meet. Teams. Whoop!
What a way to communicate.
Jokes agitate as Tiktok concentrates the bored.
Meetings with half-dressed workers fade to tirades for and against the vaccines and face masks.
The sound of tumbleweed rolls across school room floors.
Stillness catches on the feet of silent students sitting through online lessons, pretending to care.
Each household occupant mesmerised by screens – all shapes to fit all sizes – fuelling the need to educate and replicate finances.
We grow as people.
News becomes the main course of entertainment; briefings from the Government is seen as prime time television. Yet, it plays out like a soap opera, portraying predictable plots with caricatured speakers grinding out soliloquies of fortitude to the nation.
We grow weary.
‘Get children back to school!’
‘Vaccinate the vulnerable!’
‘Nothing was done fast enough!’
Hyperbole flows in rivers of information, confirmation and confrontation from all corners of the continent. Unsettled murmurs of incompetency grow as fear is replaced by anger. Explanations and apologies hold as much value as a bag of Dolly Mix.
In the meantime, we count the souls like lost teeth.
It’s time to say good-bye to the year of change. Not only have we learnt, as humans, just how destructive we can be, we have found that love, compassion and kindness still exist. It survives and thrives on the burning embers and scattered remains of humanity’s desperate attempt to survive.
In the midst of the horrors that have occurred over 2020, we have witnessed the re-establishment of communities fighting for their weakest, holding up institutions filled with heroes willing to martyr themselves in their battle against an invisible enemy. Some of us less brave souls could only clap in unison to express our gratitude to them at assigned times each week, whilst others made sure those warriors were fed and watered during their most enduring of wars.
it is sad to mention a minority who formed a thick layer of denial against the truths of what was occurring. They rallied support through social media to defend their stance that a dystopia movement was imminent; our rights were slowly being eroded. Yet, they used those same rights they were afraid to lose to undermine the safety of others, choosing to be conduits for the deadly enemy, both mentally and physically.
And here we stand now, with the weaponry to keep the enemy at bay but racing against a ticking clock. How fast can we vaccinate humankind before more souls are taken or our enemy mutates again?
As we count down the hours to a new year, let us think of those brave enough to battle for our rights to live. Let us think about the souls already lost and those willing to use their bodies as conduits to test the resistance of vaccines against an enemy capable of mutating itself into new strains of monster.
Use these thoughts to help you cope with the silent nights and empty streets. We are all in the void together. Yet, we move. This won’t be forever. So, stay strong. Stay in. Stay safe. Tomorrow is a new year.
Happy new year to you all. I hope to see you on the other side soon.
There’s nothing better than receiving reviews from readers, especially when they are two years old!
A huge thank you to Cecily for sharing her grandson’s review of Moofy and Flo. I hope you enjoy this review as much as I did – I’m still smiling from listening to his little voice! It makes me think of Christmas and curling up by the Christmas tree, watching movies and reading stories to my children (who are to big to fully appreciate that now!).
Ask a child and they’re brutal with the truth. Sometimes it’s not what you want to hear, other times it’s just right. Whatever they tell you, it’s genuine and from the heart. There is so much we can learn from a child. If they like something they’ll show it, usually by their actions. The cuddle, the kiss, the pouting face.
My friend and mentor, and published author, Eloise De Sousa sent me an advance copy of her video book Moofy and Flo to show my grandson, Sebastian, we call him Sebbie.
Sebbie came over to our place on a gorgeous, hot Sunday afternoon.
He dashed around the garden, chasing both my husband and I (oh! the exercise!!)
Editing can be a minefield, can’t it? I wasn’t sure whether to write this post, initially, but after recent experiences, I thought, why not air my views, after all, they are only my thoughts, and not law, after all! Over the last few years, as I have been, (and continue to), hone my writing craft,…
— Read on ritubhathal.com/2020/11/22/the-importance-of-being-edited/
Good day, dear citizens of the new world. My cup is full and there’s a socially distanced seat near the bookshelf here in our favourite coffee shop. Grab your beverage and head my way so we can catch up.
First of all, tell me all about your world. What has been happening to you over the past few weeks? I am sorry I haven’t met up for a coffee or even visited your blogs and websites. There is no valid excuse other than I didn’t feel like conversing with humans, in person or online. Do you ever feel like switching off? Maybe hibernating in a cave? Well, disconnecting is my coping mechanism. Those that know me well don’t mind and those that do…well, maybe we aren’t as close as we imagine.
My news is: the sprogs have returned to school. Apparently, the sickness and flu bugs received the same memo and were in full attendance from day one. War has commenced and our learning institutions are fighting the great fight to stay open as our invisible enemies threaten to overwhelm the system. Who will win remains to be seen. I have my money on a bottle of tequila and my bat cave door remaining shut. What’s the point of placing bets on that battle? You got to know hold off, know when to fold up, know when to walk away and know when to run. Betting against these odds is a lose/lose situation.
Would you like to hear some horror stories from the front line? Well, face masks are being worn and hands are being washed. Social distancing is adhered to during line ups and lunch times. But, someone forgot to tell these bugs to butt out during the in-between times. They love killing time in bubbles, sharing anecdotes with their oblivious asymptomatic carriers. They roller coaster up and down the stairs next to minions pushing in unison to get to classes and kick off after school with those careful kids walking cheek by jowl down the country roads. It kind of reminds me of Goldilocks and little Red Riding hood on vacation from the bears and wolves, laughing that they’ll never get caught because they are too damn clever. If only the viruses understood this winning attitude and followed the rules of carefully prescribed bubbles. The battle continues. I’ll keep you posted on progress (if I decide to come back out of my bat cave).
In other news, I managed to published my ebook, Moofy and Flo. It launched rather quietly a few weeks ago, without the pizazz of repeated sharing across social media and piggy backing off friends’ platforms. Needless to say, it fell flat on its hairy a…face! So, in the spirit of sharing, I’m attaching a pic and a link. If you feel the need to entertain your tiny sprogs with a delightful tale of friendship and frolicking fun that goes wrong, download a copy. The paperback version is on hold. I am battling with formatting and will try to get that down before the world ends. If I don’t, well..no one will care, will they?
Before we end this titillating tête-à-tête, I must share a rather amusing story of what happened this weekend. It’s not funny in the hilarious sense – rather, an tale of stupidity and the loss of faith in some youths. It all went down on Saturday night at about 11.20pm. We were still up, watching some dribble on the telly, when there was a screech of brakes outside the window. Next, a swooshing with the impact sound that makes your insides go queasy. I ran to the window, trying to decipher where the sound had come from, or ended up. Nothing. So I ran to my sprog’s bedroom window where a horrible scream emanated from the front of our house. It wasn’t one of those, ‘Oh my god! Someone died!’ kind of screams. It was more of the ‘Stop him! Oh my god! Catch him!’ variation.
By the time we got downstairs and out the front door (in our pyjamas), the neighbours had already assembled around the front garden of the house adjacent to ours. We live at a road junction which has become a thorough-fair for traffic avoiding roadworks and late night speed trails. While scanning the area to see what had occurred, I noticed my neighbour’s front hedge had a gaping hole in it. The grass was smooshed down in front of it and the focus of the gathering spectators pointed to something hidden beyond that toothless green grin. Just as I was about to ask what happened, I spotted a figure climbing over the hedge and dropping like a drunk bee onto the pavement. Being the good citizen that I am, I pointed to this young fellow and asked if he was involved. The avengers raised their war cry to stop this grass seed from leaving the crime scene as his friends had done before we arrived (which explained the earlier screams). Unfortunately, the hyped up youth thought it best to run through the defense line and ended up face to face with me. We both bent forward, ready to scrum. He lunged to the right. I turned and grabbed his shirt, holding on for a mere second before releasing it. Thoughts flying throw my adrenalin-fuelled brain warned me to watch out for germs and to remember the laws of the land. He stumbled straight towards the hubble who in turn snatched and released the lad. We watched him run up the road to the harrowing sounds of rage and despair. Funny enough, no one gave chase. The joys of being an adult conscious of the limitations of our wrath. The last bumbling fool to leave the car was so drunk, he forgot his phone as he stumbled over the remnants of hedge. Halfway up the road, he staggered back to retrieve his things, then walked away without anyone batting an eyelid. So much for the avengers.
I’m going to say it; if my parents were alive, the evening would have ended differently for those fine figures of society. Given the police still needed to catch them and test them for alcohol and drugs in their system before either substance disappeared, they were savvy enough not to stick around. Forget about taking responsibility and facing your mistakes. This is 2020. If you can lie, then ultimately get away with it on a technicality, you’re in the right. Isn’t that the modus operandi of politics and leadership these days? Let’s see what unfolds in the next few weeks. I’m not holding my breath for an apology from our future selves to my poor neighbour for the damage done.
Well, my cup is empty and so is my news basket. Send me your news and updates in the comments below and I promise to reply within the next few days. I hope we will get a chance to share a drink and enjoy each other’s company again soon.
It’s Thursday morning and the house is bubbling with activity at seven o’clock. After six months of watching the early bird rise, eat his worm and fly home before anyone stirred in our house, this feels unnatural. It’s the first day of the autumn school term and we are all a bundle of nerves.
My son has packed and repacked his school bag over the weekend, checking his school list for any bits of stationery or equipment he might have missed. The school has been adamant in its correspondence: no equipment or stationery will be given or shared with students. They must ensure they carry what they need to avoid cross contamination. I put my coffee cup down to help him. He complains again that his tummy hurts. I know it’s the worry that he might forget something and get a detention, so I go over the prepared speech he should deliver in case of he forgets or can’t find his way to one of his classes. ‘Apologise first and ask for help. If they shout, explain you are anxious and it makes it hard for you to remember directions under duress.’ He gives me a look and tells me some of the adults he deals with don’t care. They are more concerned with moving crowds and settling the younger newcomers to the school. They won’t have time to deal with him. I give him a reassuring hug but we both know he has to grow up and just deal with getting lost in the new buildings they’ve erected during lockdown.
My daughter realises that she has not packed a mask yet and starts to panic because the only clean masks we have are the material masks with funny smiles printed across the front. She refuses to take one, breaking down into hysterics when I shout from the kitchen, where I’m dealing with her brother, that it doesn’t matter. It matters to her. It matters a lot. She doesn’t want to have a funny smile etched across her face for most of the day. She doesn’t want to be the odd one out. She’s going to be a senior and even though lockdown left her out of the social loop, she still had social media to contend with and that dictates what cool and what is not in the new accessory we carry with us just to breathe easier when we step outside into society.
I rummage through the tumble dryer, hoping the batch of masks we used over the weekend have somehow hitched a ride to the other side of the laundry. Yes! I’m in luck. Two plain black masks pop out and I silently cheer. She hugs me tight and the relief in her eyes speaks volumes.
Both children have survived lockdown without meeting up with friends or going out. Limited exposure to the outside world kept them safe. And us. Being high risk meant taking the warnings seriously and playing by the government rules. Not that it made a difference to their older siblings who pandered towards the conspiracy theories that Covid-19 was contrived, to downright refusing to stay boxed up for the summer. The division in our family life has been apparent. The younger two and ourselves now refer to our grouping as the ‘core four’, excluding the older siblings who shirked the responsibilities of helping us all stay safe. As the core four, we have watched the news and prayed for some miracle that would slow the spread of the virus down so that we wouldn’t be at risk. Now that it has, the return to the outside world feels daunting.
Time is ticking away. My daughter wants to leave. She’s promised her friends she would meet up with them and walk together to school. I mutter something about social distancing and she looks at me. We both know that, as much as the schools will try to keep their bubbles and make everyone wash their hands, stagger breaks and lunch times, and change school start times, the children will still congregate. After all, that is their culture. That is what they know. It takes years to change tradition and we are only at the beginning; the pioneers of a new world.
I go over the list with her again before hugging her and letting her go. The front door closes, trapping me inside and her out. She is now free to roam. My mind goes wild with the possibilities and scenarios she’s going to have to face over the next five hours. Before I know it, it’s time for my son to leave. He looks so small and vulnerable and his bag makes him hunch over. I offer him a ride to school which he gladly accepts.
The village High Street looks like an overpopulated anthill teeming with worker ants scurrying to and fro. They are wearing blue uniforms and carry handbags and satchels. Packed pavements spit out random bodies onto the road, slowing the traffic down to a crawl. The scent of perfume, deodorant and pheromones waft in through the open car window. I shut it quickly, switching to aircon. Our eyes absorb the sights and sounds of the morning traffic and I despair. Parents, children, bicycles and pushchairs fight for dominance on the narrow pathways. No one is wearing a face mask. No one remembers the death toll rising each day through April and May. They have forgotten the long days of looking out of windows, wondering if the lone stranger spotted stalking the empty streets was a carrier or victim. Now, they mix like a deadly cocktail, swirling the moisture carried on their breath through open, unprotected mouths and noses. Each one trying to reach their final destination: the local schools and businesses.
We drive to the bottom of the hill that leads to my son’s place of education. I park on the side of the road and let out a big sigh. He is clutching the back seat, excited to get going now that he sees familiar faces. My fear and anxiety release in a tirade of commands: keep away from them; don’t touch the handrails; don’t touch your face or chew on your pen; wash your hands at break and lunch; be safe!
I watch his receding figure as it gets swallowed up in the sea of blue churning at the school gates. The government promised us safety at school, better mental heath for the children and a return to normal routine to free parents to work. Doubts dance in my tummy and burn in my chest. Why do I feel like I’ve just sent my kids to a factory where they will be converted into ticking time bombs then sent home? Am I looking at my silent killers filling the streets and standing at the corner shop with their friends? I guess time will tell.