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Karin Brynard’s column about insomnia reminds me of a story from my teaching days. It was composition day, and the usual candidates were full of excuses. Long stories about their incomplete assignments. The long and winding road between the school desks might just as well have been a dry riverbed in the Karoo with the promise that – one day! – there might be water flowing there again, but not that day. That day it was dry and dusty, just like the learners’ excuses.

Except for one student: he was lying with his head on his arms, groaning; the burden of some sort of ailment weighing heavily on his shoulders.

His memory of the previous day was a bit hazy, he said. Slowly and with some effort, he got to the point.

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