A week of dodging bullets

Thursday.

Day 91 of lockdown.

It’s been three months since the head of state told us to rather stay pozi. The unfortunate huge increase in the number of Covid-19 infections over-night — a jump of more than 5600 cases — has shown us that the president was right when he grounded us under level 4 and level 5 of the lockdown regulations, which kicked in way back on March 26.

The surge in the infection rate — and the death toll — tells us the boss was also right when he told us a week ago that the move to level three and some semblance of “normality” would bring with it a peak in the pandemic.

That the worst is yet to come.


It’s been a rough week, despite getting in a head shave and a whole lot of football on television over the weekend. Irshad, my mechanic mate, tested positive on Sunday, a couple of weeks after he serviced our car. Fortunately he’s not badly ill at this stage, and is responding well to treatment, but the Harper household has been in a state of paranoia since I got the call about him on Monday morning.

We had taken precautions when we picked up the car. Sanitised the keys, steering wheel and door handles first, wore masks, kept distance, just out of respect for the virus, so we should be okay. Nobody’s left the house since Monday, just in case. No shopping. No deliveries.

Big doses of vitamin C, cannabis oil and mhlonyane (Artemisia afra) extract cocktails. Temperature monitoring three times a day. Gallons of hot liquid.

My throat has been constantly scratchy since Monday. Paranoia is like that. It’s probably just the effect of the cheap cigarettes I’ve been forced to use as a combustion aid with my ganja since my cache of organic tobacco I laid in ahead of the lockdown ran out last weekend, but it’s a worry.

I had tried some herbal mixes, but none of them worked properly, so I was forced to break the law and reach out for an illegal packet of R75 Pacific Blue to go with my legal Peyote Critical. My throat’s been pretty raw since, but one works with what one has.

Since Monday, the weekend head shave doesn’t feel so good any more. It prickles with guilt. What if I am positive, and I gave the virus to Sani, the barber, and he’s given it to the customers who came after me?

I was Sani’s first customer since he closed shop in the last week of March. And one of the last before he shut down. We both sanitised before he started and we both wore masks, although I had to take mine off while he shaved my beard and the back of my head.

Sani’s not the luckiest of cats. He had invested his savings in renovating the shop — three barber’s chairs, new lighting and big red and white striped neon sign outside; shelves of shaving cream, hair dye and Amli Oil — and opened up the day before the commander-in-chief announced the lockdown.

Poor bastard.

I’m hoping that in this case, Sani’s luck has improved and that he — and I — have dodged the bullet.

My corona scare meant I covered former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption court case in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday remotely, working off the live feed. I’d probably have done so anyhow, given that the three-ringed circus that normally accompanies uBaba’s court appearances was not going to be in town.

But the business inside court was always going to be brief — to be honest, it could have all been done in the judge’s chambers rather than in open court — because there’s still some distance to go before the trial actually gets going, so it really didn’t seem worth the risk of attending the hearing.

There’s enough bullets to dodge already, without looking for new ones.

I wonder if Helen Zille, Cape Town’s Queen of the Karens, will continue her bullet dodging in the Democratic Alliance after her latest rant on Twitter? Perhaps Zille’s most recent act of apartheid denialism will sink her for good, undo the putsch she engineered in the party, get her fired.

It should. Zille’s outbursts are getting uglier and more hateful as time progresses. More of an affront to humanity. To history.

Unless, of course, Zille is tweeting publicly what John Steenhuisen and the other wit ous in the DA are thinking privately, and that their silence is an endorsement of what she has to say. Perhaps they simply fear Zille, and the people who vote for her, and keep quiet because they don’t want to lose their jobs, their livelihoods.

Perhaps that explains their failure to take away Zille’s cellphone, cut her data allowance and remove her from her post as chairperson of the DA federal council. Send her packing, for good.

Perhaps.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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