"You can keep on doing this for 20 minutes and we have only done it for 3,5 minutes!" our yoga teacher exclaims cheerfully.
We are busy doing an exercise swinging our arms, while we are doing squats at the same time. It resembles a collective take off. And it’s not only my imagination. I see it proven in the reflection in the mirror next to me.
I don’t make fun of it, and I do not even whisper to my neighbor saying,
"look in the mirror and see how ridiculous we actually look”, because Yoga is a serious activity.Maybe it’s because of this sombre atmosphere that my friend and I afterwards discuss whether or not we believe in something Bigger than ourselves.
We conclude that it would be nice if something bigger than us does exist.
Reincarnation for example.
Then friend B says: "I try at least to live by the 10 commandments. But I never succeed. Well, I do manage not to murder."
"Yes”, I say.
To continue: "No, I lie (oh no, that’s just great!). I kill at least 28 ants every day and everything else that moves around and is larger than an ant, such as spiders, etc. are DOOMed to die as well."
"And what if that spider is the reincarnation of your deceased grandmother?" she asks.
It reminds me of the census volunteer. One day he stood at my door, in full regalia, red hat and a clipboard with many forms on it. He didn’t look as if he was very important, rather dull. Like he wanted to say: "Well, I can’t help it, I just have to do this. I actually couldn’t care less how many of you live here.”
While those forms are all about the number of people living in a household. A snapshot is taken of the current situation, to gain insight into the number of people living in South Africa and their gender, age, living conditions, access to facilities etc.
It feels strange to fill out forms regarding your personal circumstances in a country where you will live only temporarily.
You are the passer-by, the one making statements from the sideline as if you know it all:
"No, it's nothing now, it will take generations before the aftermath of apartheid has died. It will definitely take a while to outgrow this period. Of course, I would like to do something, but that is almost impossible. Why? Well, the insecurity. Yes, it really is a balancing act that this country is performing.”
I tend to fill out the form as quickly as possible. But then I become engrossed in the form because the questions give me an insight into vital issues.
I tick that all three of my kids are alive. That indeed, I’m their mother and their father is their father. No, there are no other children living in with me. Yes, my parents are still alive, and I emulate my mother when I touch wood three times after every answered question, followed by: "Oh, this is really testing the Gods."
Anyway, reincarnation into a spider.
So I say: "Firstly, I am not a huge fan of any relatives - not being immediate family - living cheek by jowel with you. And secondly, my grandmother always said she wanted to return as a brain surgeon or as an elephant, so I think I would do her a big favor if I’d ended this spider suffering as quickly as possible.