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The finish line: The last few things we need to get through before 2021 finally ends


Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a Brown Woman in a White South Africa. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @sage_of_absurd

I thought I might share a few things left to do before the year ends – like only two more period pains – instead of the things we have already done. So, here is a rather incomplete, dark, yet hopeful list.

I received a meme from my sister the other day on one of our WhatsApp groups. It featured a border collie, with spectacles, sitting in front of a sewing machine and looking rather grandma-esque and wise. It had this supporting text: two period pains left for this year. You have fought, ladies.

I found it extremely funny, and I also, very sadly, found it hopeful. “That’s it, isn’t it?” I thought; that’s literally all we have to get through before the year ends. Two more sessions of ovarian pain don’t seem so bad if that’s what gets us to the end of 2021.

The meme had me counting all we have faced this year. For example, several levels of lockdown. Some Level 4, some five, some two – up and down like a lift with ADD. All the stages of load shedding. I think we have lost count of how many we have faced in any given year; but the point is we faced them and, realistically, whether it’s stage 1, two, three, or whatever Eskom and the government thinks of next, there are only two months left until the clock ticks over.

Then, of course, there were those three dark days of looting in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), another thing we got through this year. Let’s stay in KZN for the reason of this number: 340 plus. That’s how many people died during those three days. A massacre, really. I don’t think it’s fair to say anyone is or should be “over that”. It has not been overcome, certainly not by the family members of those who have died, but it is a number we faced this year and still stare at in shock.

Other numbers we can look at are things such as: the number of projects we have submitted or workloads we have overcome; the number of panic and anxiety attacks we have had that will hopefully now start to taper off.

I guess, in these times, it would only be fair to remember, with great pride, all those times we healed from Twitter wars with absolute strangers. And then, of course, another significant total with a more positive spin, if you choose to see it that way, is the number of vaccinated people.  

But more than looking back, the meme had me looking forward to the countdown. And I thought I might share a few things left to do before the year ends – like only two more period pains – instead of the things we have already done. So, here is a rather incomplete, dark, yet hopeful list.

For most of us – not counting birthdays left, there are a maximum of two compulsory family gatherings left. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Or in some families, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Two. Two left, people. Feel it – it is almost here.

If we assume that everyone has leave from 24 December until, say, 3 January, then you should have only 55 days left of work. I have included the weekends as working days because, honestly, I don’t know anyone who does zero work on the weekends any more.

In those 55 days, and this is purely subjective, if you are a writer, as I am, you have 24 deadlines left to wrap up. Excluding the back and forth of editing. We will deliberately not count that number because it could be anything and could really drag down our enthusiasm levels to push through it quite significantly. If you don’t actually take proper leave, it’s more than 24, but again, let’s exclude that in the name of hope.

You also have two months left to pay your rent. Now, I know this just rolls over to the next year, but look at it this way: you got through 2021, and you made your payment every month, and that’s something. You just have to do it twice more, people.

The finish line is in sight. Fill up your tanks one last time and start counting down. You can do it… before it all starts again. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.


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