Home alone – a pandemic diary (day fifteen– 25.03.20)

Day fifteen. It seems a lifetime since we had our normal life. Since Mimi came in the mornings and we chatted while I had breakfast, discussing what she should cook for dinner and the latest news. Afonso had been home in the last two months because of his operation and Pedro usually had classes later so when I left for work, they would both still be sleeping.


We had a tough time, yes, because of the boy’s injuries during rugby games and especially Afonso’s, but nothing like this scary world we are living in, a world empty of people, but full of fear. A world that has lost normality, with this abrupt change in our lives that has hit us like a bomb.


A Spanish friend I wrote to today – to know how he and his family are doing   – said something very true: only people who have lived through a war could have experienced something of this sort, because, as I wrote yesterday, this is a war, against an unseen enemy. I remember feeling a similar knot in my stomach in Mozambique, right after the revolution, when we feared for our lives and locked ourselves at home, leaving the streets empty as they are here now.


Every morning I wake up and I’m grateful that my family, my friends and I are still healthy, and every night I pray the following day will find us in the same state. But, in addition to keeping safe from the virus, we have to try and keep sane, and that is increasingly difficult with all the news and panic around us.


Today I called a friend to congratulate him on his birthday. He is a good friend, usually a jolly person, but today he only contributed to worsen my spirits; as I talked about how I hope this will end, he was warning me against the “second wave”, and predicting that “in a year, we’ll be okay”. God knows what will happen, but if I lose hope that this will pass sooner than that, I’ll be utterly depressed, desolated, without hope, and that cannot be.


Today, another bright, sunny day – as I say, Nature doesn’t give a damn about what we are facing, as we have done with her;  I worked in the morning, had lunch and took the trash out, and making the most of this fact I went for a half an hour walk. Again, I walked along the sea, and there was no living soul to be seen. The main square of the village, usually bustling with activity, shops and cafés with people coming in and out, or sitting on the terraces, was empty except for two people waiting outside the pharmacy. They somehow reminded me of The Walking Dead, with their stopped shoulders and their expressionless faces.  I took some photos of the square and the streets for the record, and I fervently hope we’ll get to the day when we can look at them and remember them well in the past.


I walked home, disheartened. Limp, empty. Infinitely sad. I worked through the whole afternoon, talking a lot on the phone and that was good. I exchanged mails with colleagues in Great Britain, Spain and Italy. They are all well, thank God. They seem so far away.


I’m now making some soup for dinner. I will eat and watch Hinterland, but before I’ll prepare things for tomorrow, as I’ll have to go to the office. Not that I very much feel like going to Lisbon, somehow you always feel it’s an added risk, even if at the office there will only be three or four people working.


Wherever I turn, the outlook is bleak. Dusk has fallen on day fifteen, and, according to predictions, we still have more than a month to live like this. In the best scenario. I don’t even want to look at today’s  numbers, as they will only depress me more. I only wish I could go to sleep and wake up once this nightmare is over. Or simply wake up and realize this was nothing more than that, a nightmare, and my normal life is waiting outside for me. My happy life, with ups and downs, but still happy. Free.


I get up to check on the soup. Quarantine is scary and lonely. Only my faith will uphold me. So tonight, like every other night since it began, and until it is over, I will pray with all my heart and then, only then, I won’t feel lonely, or scared, and I will go to sleep and forget.

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