Johan van Zyl,
The lockdown has affected us countrywide in so many ways, and in as many ways we are trying to manage the situation.
Some enterprising folks have been laudably successful in doing this; some others might not have felt they had the willpower and energy to push through.
We have heard about the “ordinary” steps some have taken.
Wash the car more often; do the household maintenance chores that have been shirked due to a too-full work programme; spend more time and attention playing with the dog; watch more soapies; play ludo and rummy as a family.
The list goes on. I use the time in lockdown to write emails to friends and family, listen to music on my “antique” cassette player, and rewatch DVDs bought many years ago.
Recall Lawrence of Arabia, Troy and the Blackadder series?
Then came the nagging feelings of guilt because I had ceased my long walks.
One of my friends I correspond with, had told me that the police are arresting people who aimlessly walk the streets in Oudtshoorn.
So I counted the steps required to complete one circuit around my house and tool shed.
I multiplied that with the average length of one step and calculated that 21 “trips” would give me a distance equivalent to a walk to our nearest supermarket and back: about three kilometers.
Now our 18-year-old granddaughter Miya, visiting us in her school holiday – now incarcerated with us due to the lockdown – is a willful young lady, cellphone-addicted and screen-struck.
So I decided I would test her resolve and get her out of her sedentary situation with a dare.
Walk with 74-year-old Grandpa – or are you chicken?
So she gets this stubborn look in her eyes and falls in behind.
Normally wary of attention by onlookers, we were grateful that our street in front was clear of passers-by.
It would have been a ridiculous sight to behold: this old coot tramping to and fro, to and fro around the house, followed by a beautiful girl for no apparant reason.
When after 21 trips I did not call a halt but continued relentlessly, I saw her eyes widen as the realisation dawned upon her.
This was not going to be a pushover. She zipped into the house to equip herself with cellphone and earpieces, so that she could listen to her MP3s while walking.
The minutes turned into hours, and the second set of 21 trips had been long completed.
She could not know, and did not ask, when I would call a halt. It was my sciatica that kicked in when we were just shy of 10km, but I did not reveal that fact.
I eventually stopped the marathon and congratulated her on her accomplishment. She could not know I was thinking: Thank goodness it’s over!
That evening she complained of sore feet, but the next day approached me with a request. “That was fun, Grandpa! When are we going to do it again?”
Thanks for the lovely letter, it’s an inspiration to get out while staying in! Ed