I identify at least 50 instances in this story that we affluent members of our society take for granted – see if you can spot them all or more.

“Thandi was born in hospital by emergency Caesarean section six hours after her mother went into labour. Her mother had been careful to keep all her antenatal visits and lead a lifestyle healthy for her unborn child, and although the obstructed labour was a surprise, she was a completely healthy newborn, showing no negative effect of the early distress she had been under during labour.

After three days in hospital Thandi was taken to the small brick house where her parents both lived. Although small, it was water tight and warm enough in the winter, with inside running water and a bathroom and toilet. Her father worked nearby in town, and although money was tight, there was enough to make sure Thandi and her siblings were well-fed and properly clothed. Thandi’s mother also worked, but was able to take six months maternity leave without losing her job, so that the first six months of her life were as perfect as they could be. Thandi had all her vaccinations on time at the local clinic. At the age of three a series of several ear infections in a few months meant Thandi had grommets for the first time, but other than that she was a healthy child.

Thandi started school at the age of seven. She could walk the three blocks from her house to the school grounds in complete safety. She had an enthusiastic teacher, her own desk, her own pencils and text books. She learnt to read and write early, alongside the other 24 kids in the class.

There were extramural activities as well. Thandi took up ballet, and excelled, appearing in school and regional dance competitions. These often took her far from her home, but her mother and father could drive her there to take part. She was good at sport, and played hockey for the school team. Her school on several occasions played in regional competitions on the local private school’s new AstroTurf field.

Thandi did well at school, wore a bright new dress to her matric dance, and passed her matric exams with a university entrance pass. She applied to her first choice of university for her chosen career and was accepted both into the course and into res.

Like school, Thandi excelled at university. She easily found a loan to help her parents pay for her studies and textbooks. She could work part-time to make up the difference, yet still have time for her studies. Before long she met the right guy, already working in a good career, from an equally stable background and with equal prospects, and soon after she qualified they were married. They could save money for themselves without having to finance other members of both families, and within a short while they owned a house, a nicer house than Thandi had been brought up in, in an even nicer neighbourhood. They were a couple on the way up, building a life of prosperity for themselves. Then Thandi fell pregnant with her first child.

Thandeka was born in hospital by emergency Caesarean section six hours after Thandi went into labour. Thandi had been careful to keep all her antenatal visits and lead a lifestyle healthy for her unborn child, and … (repeat).”

How many did you get?



Martin Young

Martin Young is an ENT surgeon living an idyllic life in Knysna. He is a firm believer that "the unexamined life is not worth living", writes for a hobby and is happy to speak truth to power www.drmartinyoung.com...

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