A few nights ago, Lokes told me he’d watched a documentary on TV entitled Jonestown. At the time, I had no idea what that was, and when I hadn’t asked, he did not elaborate, simply saying that, “It is…,” and then he’d paused, and given a shudder instead.

The morning after, he elaborated on the program, saying that it was how the phrase “drink the Kool-aid” came about. Jonestown was a town built by a certain Jim Jones, who led a cult called the People’s Temple in the ’70s, and how it’d all ended in a mass suicide (904 in all), many of whom were children.

Last night, after the kids were in bed, I started to work on one of my projects. After an hour of sitting about with nary a word on the screen, I simply gave up. It was one of those days. I decided to surf youtube and typed the word “Jonestown” in the search field.

What I saw was the most…horrible, thing I’ve ever laid eyes on.

I’ve never been one with a very strong stomach for real macabre. As long as something is fiction or re-enacted, I’m fine with it. Which is why I’ve never been able to digest porn, for what is being witnessed, isn’t acting. The sex is real, no matter how meaningless, even if it is roleplay.

And yet, I deigned to click on a home-made video someone uploaded (I’m not linking it for reasons that will become obvious in a while) that showed original news footage of the carnage left at Jonestown, Guyana, November 18 1978, and watched it to the end, all eight minutes and 23 seconds of it. And against Blue Oyster Cult’s (Don’t Fear) the Reaper, I watched images of a sea of bodies flicker by, of Jim Jones and his voice preaching, and more bodies, alive, singing, clapping, rejoicing, and then dead, face down in the dirt, clutching each other, clutching their children, legs splayed open, arms thrown out, as though all had expired simultaneously after a long night of harmless…celebrating.

And at the end of it, with just an image of Jim Jones’ ‘throne’, was his voice. The words of a madman, against the piercing screams of babies and children being injected with cyanide and Valium, coaxing his congregation, to drink the Flavor-Aid.

Don’t be this way. Stop the hysterics. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity. Just quickly quickly quickly.

And then I crumbled.

I stood up shakily, and walked as fast as my legs could carry me without waking the girls, down two flights of stairs and called for Lokes. In his den, I collapsed , crying, sobbing, wailing.

Why why why why?

I could not stop. Bile rose in my throat and together, we quickly went to the living room toilet, where nothing but empty hurls came. I sat on the stool with my face over the latrine, and cried some more. After half an hour of comforting and reminders not to watch any more ‘such stuff’ and gently reprimanding himself for ever telling me about the documentary, my husband brought me to bed and there I laid, my eyes open in the dark and all I could see were the bodies, and all I could hear were the cries and his voice.

Why did this affect me so?

Because long ago, I too knew what it was like to be misunderstood and unloved.

I too knew the need to be accepted for who I was.

I too knew of the dream to be a part of something wonderful.

If I had been alive (not before Oct 1973), if I’d been there, I would’ve joined the People’s Temple.

I would’ve followed such a man.

And I would’ve drunk the Flavor-Aid.

No doubt, most people will not understand or accept such stupidity today. At this point of my life, I too, think that this is simply insane. But ridiculous? Not really, for loneliness is a painful emotion, and to want to belong when noone else wants you will make you choke with agony. So that when someone finally embraces you, it is all you can do not to let go.

Even if it means having to die.

I am feeling much better today, although I’m not watching the video again. And I wish you would not go looking for it, unless you really have the stomach to go through it, for it is not a re-enactment. If you insist, perhaps Stanley Nelson’s documentary would be a wiser choice or a BBC interview with Jim’s adopted son and other ‘survivors’ of the Peoples Temple.

To anyone out there who’s ever needed to know – you are not alone.