Monday, 19 May 2008

Weekus horribilis: weak us, and horrible humans. Someone's opened Pandora's Box

Jeez, am I lucky or what? Unlike certain other people who live in Johannesburg, I wasn't stabbed, shot, beaten or burned to death this week. I could have been, I suppose, after my family and friends were held at gunpoint, in my own house, in the self-same city, nine days ago. But, right now, I'm not even going to begin to entertain the thought of what could have happened to us during this ordeal. I'm tempted - oh yes, sorely and tearfully - but it just doesn't seem decent to dwell on the possible outcomes of a small domestic crisis in a week when bigger demons are afoot.

I'm not being facetious. I do feel lucky. I woke up this morning to see a shocking, grisly picture on the front pages of The Times of a human body on its knees and engulfed in flame. This man - his name still unknown - was beaten and burned to death by a baying mob, one of a dozen or more other packs of feral bastards who have stampeded through Johannesburg's informal settlements, burning, beating and killing 'foreigners' - that is, hapless refugees and illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and elsewhere in Africa. If you're remotely interested as to why this is happening, Google the words 'xenophobia South Africa'.

I don't have words to describe how sickened I am, not to mention frightened, shaken and rattled. I can't think of another week in my life that has made me feel so chilled and full of despair. Someone has opened Pandora's box. Bad news, misfortune and evil piles up, folds in on itself and replicates (and I'm not even the supersititious type; yes, even atheists get rattled).

Consider the events:

1. Cataclysmic storm in Burma; countless thousands killed and displaced
2. Tens of thousands perish in Chinese earthquake
3. Mayhem, murder and mob rule in the suburbs of my own city
4. Gunmen invade my home
5. My son's friend dies in a car accident
6. The nine-month-old baby niece of my domestic worker is badly burned (third-degree burns over half her body) when a candle falls over in a small shack in a Jo'burg shanty-town and sets light to the bed clothes. No news as yet.

I'm reasonably resilient, and I think I might have absorbed and coped with all this bad stuff if No. 4 on the list hadn't knocked the wind clean out of my sails. But - enough already. I think I'm going to do a Rip van Winkle and go to sleep for 20 years. Please wake me up when May has been abolished.

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1 comment:

meggie said...

Too awful to think about. Humans have a long way to go.