Sending my condolence to fear

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Triggering lockdown memories.
Triggering lockdown memories.

During these uncertain times, Old Mutual asked local influencers to answer one simple question: What is your Most Treasured Moment during lockdown? Whatever your tomorrow brings, it’s the things that matter most that we need to protect.

By Aldrin Sampear, news anchor and Power FM host.

I’m here again. Soaked in a hot bubble bath infused with some essential oil. Peppermint organic oil, to be precise. Greedily, I poured more than the required droplets. The vapour clinging onto the steam and the oxygen. My lungs feel under attack by this overdose of menthol. There is a cooling sensation, though. It’s soothing. It’s comforting. And actually, reassuring. I’m alive. An essential worker. I’ve made it to level 1. It sounds a bit like a Super Mario game review, doesn’t it? Ask me about any lockdown level, my friend and I have a story to tell. I’ve lived to tell this story. Sadly, it’s triggering.

I feel privileged to have served my nation. Served it with distinction, in her darkest days since apartheid. The messaging all around me forced me to imagine the end of the world. Empty streets. Silent nights. Humans in hibernation. The world all over. I could hear bubbles burst in my bathtub. It was my confessional. I could hide here. Death seemed inevitable. It wasn’t a question of if. But when.

Driving from Houghton, one day, I decided to go through the Johannesburg CBD instead of using the freeway. It was level 5. The most dreadful of all. What purpose do these traffic lights even serve, I thought? Corrugated sheets, cover shop entrances that have closed down. Please pause here friend. Close your eyes. Visualize the hustle and bustle of the most populated city in South Africa. Can you even imagine, Small Street vacant? Silent. No toes to step on. No shoving to make it across the road. No person to pickpocket. That was literally it. In disbelief, I stepped out of the car to take pictures. It felt like a movie set, post Armageddon.

A sense of fear flushed through my body. But I wanted to see more. Headphones plugged in my ear. off to OR Tambo I drove. Made it in record time. This can’t be. This can’t be the busiest airport on the continent. The pickup and drop off bays outnumbered the police. An officer stopped me and asked, what brought me here. I just wanted to experience a dead airport, I told her.

The invisible enemy was omnipresent. I broke down and cried. This was becoming too much to handle. I couldn’t take it anymore. Soaked in my tears, Benjamin Clementine came blaring in my ears as I drove home. “This voice, this particular voice. Yes, you’ve heard it before,” he sings. I was scared. Not scared that I would die from Corona. But scared that I would take my own life. I could become my own enemy.

That night, I cried. I prayed. I prayed and I cried. The Maxakaza twins were singing in the background. Ngipholise. Ngipholise Jehova. The pain was unbearable. Where is this God? But I continued to pray. Like a voice sent by God, my partner assured me that we will survive this moment. We’ll see another day to soak my body in a warm bath with eucalyptus oil. These black and gold tiled walls would cry with me again. Tears of joy and relief. I couldn’t have done it without him.

I now realise that essential workers are the family members of the state-sanctioned “essential workers”. You have been a pillar. Because of you, we can sing with Benjamin Clementine: “Am sending my condolence, am sending my condolence to fear.” Now I just have to work on sending my condolences to this mkhaba that’s protruding through this foam. Lockdown Fat is a thing.

Opinion is my own. Sponsored. The new Personal Cover from Old Mutual lets you build the cover that’s right for you. Find out more at or speak to your financial adviser. #PersonalCover @OldMutualSA

Old Mutual Life Assurance Company (SA) Ltd is a licensed FSP.

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