Africa: When Death Turns Beige - Stories Are the Remedies for Despair


We must reclaim our individual sorrow in a world blunted by an overwhelming number of deaths.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

How do we die? How do we generally die? Covid-19 seems to have killed death's variety. A bird that once had a feather of every possible colour and shade has faded to beige.

With the first death-from-Covid you hear about, your shock is bright and sharp; by the fifth, your panic is orange and hot. By the 10th, you type, "I'm so sorry to hear about your loss", and you despair at the repetition and uselessness of those words.

After the 10th, when you are typing through tears because a friend you love has lost the gift of a partner her life took too long to deliver, and the spellchecker won't assimilate "condolences" from the c's and n's and d's and o's and l's you've offered it, you want to hurl your phone far, out of reach, beyond the perimeter where you want the unbearable to go back to residing.

At some point, the information that "they died", whoever "they" are, becomes a vague, colourless "Oh".

Sometimes you forget who died, or who lost someone....

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