Growing up, I used to fantasise about the order being reversed: a two-day work week and a five-day weekend. Why not? Why didn’t we have weather days here in South Africa when it snowed so hard that there was no school for the day, and later you could ride a sled down the hill with your friends like in those American television shows?
That fantasy, I must confess, carried on into adulthood. A low-key monsoon that didn’t really cause any damage or flooding but only cut off the routes to work sounded great. Hmmm… Netflix and an endless supply of pizza while locked up at home in your PJs. Surely that represented the ultimate freedom? Free of responsibility and the daily grind.
But, as they always say, be careful what you wish for.
In the Autumn of 2020, it happened. What I had secretly wished for came true when the COVID-19 pandemic locked us and the rest of the world into our homes. The feeling I was waiting to experience my entire life was the antithesis of freedom. We couldn’t roam around freely, exercise, frequent our favourite eating spots or visit friends and family. My kids couldn’t go to school and they punched the air in delight the way I would have when I was their age. Going into the office was prohibited until further notice. We lived in fear and paranoia.
In that very moment in March last year, my lifelong fantasy became a real- life nightmare. It felt cruel, actually, to think that the freedoms so many had sacrificed so much for, for all of us to enjoy, could be taken away so quickly by an invisible menace. Like the head of state of a Hollywood blockbuster whose nation faced impending doom, a decisive President Cyril Ramaphosa took some drastic steps to save lives.