reader a glimpse into their unique experiences of the government-mandated state of Lockdown, imposed on all citizens to “flatten the curve” of the deadly Corona Virus.
The list of contributors is like a bibliophile’s wet dream. I honestly wouldn’t mind spending an indefinite number of days locked up with the likes of Ben Travato, Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola, Eva Mazza, Professor Ismail Lagardien, Tracy Going, Christy Chilimigras et al. Reluctantly pushing my apocalyptic fantasies aside, I settled for simply delving into their words, penned Polaroid snapshots of their diverse and distinctive experiences of the “new normal that is utterly abnormal” - my description - called Lockdown.
The book encompasses essays as diverse as the contributors themselves and spans perspectives just as singular as their writing styles. Ben Trovato’s keen observation skills and dry wit cannot de outdone. The poignancy of Christy Chilimigras’s green wingback chair and the bourgeoisie burden of Dave Muller’s chocolate cake. Helena Kriel’s words, dense and descriptive and divine. Robert Hamblin’s rage threatening to jump from the page and interrupt the reader’s carefully-scheduled Zoom meditation class. From Lindiwe Hani questioning, “Is it possible to suffer from PTSD from events you were not a part of?” while she dances with the spirit of her deceased father to Kelly-Eve Koopman’s gripping dystopian tale outlining the seemingly inevitable descent into acceptable societal madness.
Sara-Jayne Makwala King’s words resonated deeply as she wrote of issues that I am passionate about: addiction recovery, mental health concerns and motherhood. Not much forethought has been given to the addicted populations – both in recovery and not - and how they will navigate their own madness, their uncontrollable afflictions, without access to support and vital resources.
She writes, “My own personal reality is that any one of several monsters I’m already living with could take me out way before a microscopic parasite decides to use me as its host. Borderline, bi-polar, anxiety and depression – not to mention their motley-crew of comrades, self-harm, anorexia and addiction – are all ready to launch their unwavering, potentially deadly assault upon me at the slightest hint of vulnerability. And right now I’m vulnerable as f*ck. Four months post-partum, still feeling ripped from c*nt to craw and single-parenting my way through a global f*cking pandemic.”
The undeniable thread that connects the contributions to this book is that of privilege; making the overwhelming needs of the homeless, the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, the desperate and disadvantaged even more conspicuous by its absence. As, Pumla Dineo Gqola writes, ““kuhlekwa nokuba kubhuiiwe” (we laugh even in the presence of death).”
But another unmistakable thread also ties the tales to one another: that of hope. Hope spreads through the book like the virus itself. And if there is anything worth holding onto right now, it is hope.