My word for this week is “epiphany”. In general parlance, an epiphany is an experience of sudden and striking realisation. It can apply to any situation in which an enlightening realisation allows a problem or situation to be understood from a newer and deeper perspective.
I experienced two such moments over the past weekend. The first instance was a request for me to deliver a eulogy at a funeral. With the request came the injunction that I had three minutes speaking time! I had serious reservations about the draconian time constraint.
I and another speaker at this sad event went over the allotted time. The funeral was hardly over before the minister addressed the grieving family in the most muscular way, reprimanding them for the breach of time limits by two speakers of their choice.
My first reaction was to tell the minister what to do with his apparent insensitivity. But discussion with the family and with the cohort of academics who nurture me daily (even though I don’t lecture any longer) reduced to one conclusion: I had broken the law. The priest was justified, correct and properly within his rights to exact retribution.
It was then that I realised the gravity of the Covid situation with deeper insight. It is the law that funerals are confined in terms of time and space. It is the law that miscreants can be shut down.
It is true that my miserable ego which told me I could go over the allotted time was grievously flawed, and I had compromised the livelihood, health and physical and spiritual well-being of many people who would want the kind of service where I had just flaunted the law. The church could, given the grave reality of a third, more potent wave, be shut down, denying other families access to decent burials for their dearly departed.
What was I thinking? Or, why wasn’t I thinking? So my plea to my readers is simple and clear. The rules, constraints and controls are not cosmetic. They address a real and present danger that is getting worse. And if my deep remorse and unqualified apology can speak for you, let it be. Follow and obey the protocols.
The second epiphany was the result of people discovering “cold-calling”at vaccination stations.
Because the allocation of vaccination dates and sites is behind schedule, and not all citizens have cellphones, people discovered that, if they hovered at vaccination sites, they could be given the unused shot, otherwise it would go waste. The registration for the government mainframe is not a problem.
Within seconds of my vaccination, the Covid 19 Vaccine Electronic Vaccination Data System confirmed the shot and provided the date for the follow-up visit. So the cold-calling is not the problem.
What struck me when I got to the site was the long queue. Initially, social distancing was observed, and the line looked long enough.
But as we waited for the medical stock to arrive, the queues grew and I noticed how the social distancing disappeared until people were standing on top of each other waiting for help.
And this is the point. That we have become so complacent and familiar that the present spike was inevitable. We are on the third level of infection, and it hasn’t peaked yet. It’s going to get worse.
The government already has agents monitoring religious gatherings to observe the flouting of time constraints like I did, albeit unintentionally or without thinking.
We need to become more vigilant, more draconian, because this thing is not going away soon. Already the wards and crematoria cannot cope with this new initial spike. Think of the havoc that awaits us during the winter months.
As I have indicated, this weekend and those two personal experiences have opened my eyes wider. We are under assault. Please listen to those guiding us from governmental, media and medical levels.
My warning is dire. My appeal is sincere.
* Literally Yours is a weekly column from Cape Argus reader Alex Tabisher. He can be contacted on email by [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.
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