Defend Truth


Letter to Queen Corona: Thanks for the reboot, but curse you for the torment


Marianne Thamm has toiled as a journalist / writer / satirist / editor / columnist / author for over 30 years. She has published widely both locally and internationally. It was journalism that chose her and not the other way around. Marianne would have preferred plumbing or upholstering.

You’ve whacked us out of our stupor, revealing both brilliance and the unscrupulous. You stopped us in our tracks to reveal the horror we have brought on ourselves. We get it and we forgive you – but we will get you in the end.

Dear QC,

When we finally identified you, you with your Crown of Glycoproteins – your Corona – back in 2019, and then in March 2020 when we isolated you fully, you disturbed what had already long been disturbed.

You were a package with a viral punch, the scale of which we had not experienced in hundreds of years.

These were surely tales of long, long ago. Of the plague William Shakespeare escaped, with King Lear done and dusted after lockdown. We wondered whether you would claim more than the 50 million wiped out by the Great influenza epidemic of 1918.

In 2020, bodies piled up, hospitals were overwhelmed, a dislocated fear spread through the world. We could not see you and we were not sure of your modus operandi, being a clever, ever-evolving retrovirus. We have dealt with the likes of you before.

We retreated.

You almost shut us down.

For that we thank you, actually.

There was something in the ether already. We felt and watched it unfurl around us, the destruction, the fires, the floods, the starvation, the obscene wealth – evidence that how we live is unsustainable; slow-motion suicide, self-immolation.

You stopped us in our tracks…

Queen Corona, you are from us and we are from you.

And, because of our dual origin and mutual lust for life, we must reflect on the good, the bad and the horror we have brought on ourselves through you.

You have been a ruthless mass killer. More than five million worldwide at last count.

We curse you for the pain and grief you have brought on the families, friends and loved ones of those who died; often alone, afraid, sedated, out of medical reach from complications of Covid-19, as you are known now (alongside your relentless mutations) in graveyards and streets.

We curse you for unhinging – during gruelling lockdowns – millions of otherwise seemingly functional people, turning them inwards in the face of the unknown, where they appear to have found darkness, conspiracy theories, apocalyptic visions and bowel-rippling fear.

Misery loves company and the crowds began to gather virtually in the clouds.

Twitter and other social media platforms, deployed until then to manipulate elections here and there while simultaneously driving mindless consumer habits, obliged, mutating into a cacophonous marketplace for idiot winds, mental farts, for the unaccountable and the self-deluded.

They are a hungry and voracious audience, bloated from too much data junk food streaming in daily, washing over minds tormented by ADHD and ready to follow any modern prophet who scribbles “I Google, Therefore I Am” on the subway walls.

On the other hand, we thank you for prodding and rallying the finest minds in the world – the doctors, the scientists, the epidemiologists and those who worked to unlock your secrets and find a vaccine to limit your damage. We thank you for ripping off the mental masks and destroying the props that make up the Potemkin village that is the world to show us what matters: family, community, human solidarity.

We saw how the least-appreciated and lowest-paid in the world are the ones who keep societies together. The workers, the nurses, the drivers, the cleaners, the shovers, the shifters, the shadow people usually. McJobs with first-name tags pinned to crappy uniforms.

The venal, too, were catapulted into the real spotlight, away from the glare and circus of the Bell Pottingers – the speech writers, the image polishers and the political conjurers.

Politicians, public officials, industrialists, bankers, pharmaceutical companies, entire industries and 21st-century cosmologies trading Non-fungible Tokens rushed to profit from the pandemic at the expense of fellow humankind.

Thank you for that.

Without you, they would have remained in the shadows, nibbling, suckling, gorging, profiting from whatever endless stream of what-passes-for-money to tax havens on rocky outcrops in the ocean.

Because of you, we crunched 10 years into two with regard to technology, catapulting many of us into new and less-fettered localised economies.

Because of you, across the world, humans have realised we are mortal. Death drinks tea with each of us every day. Make friends with it, you tell us, find the meaning of your one, very short, vulnerable life.

Okay, we get it.

So, this is just to tell you that you have whacked us out of our stupor, one way or another, and we hope never return to those ages BC – Before Corona. We hope nothing will be the same.

Thanks for the reboot, but curse you for the torment, the mass unemployment, the hopelessness, the lies, the suffering.

The collateral damage you have unleashed, apart from shutting down our bodies, has been devastating to our mental health.

QAnon lives and multitudes who choose to be misled do so willingly, as has happened since our species became bipedal.

In the end, of course, we all know both you and nature hate a vacuum. You will find a way to try to survive. We will try to find a way to stop you.

Be warned, it did not take us that long to crack your genetic code.

In closing, we forgive you for being the opportunist you are programmed to be, seeking comfortable, unvaccinated horizons and gatherings to do the work you do.

We will get you.

In the end.

You will, however, hopefully have left us forever altered. 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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  • Coen Gous says:

    Aai, aai, aai, Marianne, what a wonderful talent you are. So glad you did not become a plumber. Or maybe not, because after going through 3 handyman’s and a “plumber”, I still have a leaking toilet in a self-catering guest house in Britannia Bay, St Helena Bay. With guests shouting bloody murder!
    But at least your talent allowed me to just sit back, take the punches, and enjoy the moment of a small smile in a world where QC have taken us to another universe “where life is beautiful all the time, and I’ll be happy to………….ha, ha!

  • Merle Favis says:

    Journalist, thinker and human being – out of the top drawer

  • District Six says:

    Wonderful, Marianne! Lechaim! Slaintѐ Mhaith!

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