DAY thirteen, Monday
I get up early. The sun is shining, the sky is blue. I have a busy day ahead of me. No chance to go out. Today, if life were normal, I would be in Malta for some meetings, that will now be held by videoconference.
When we are all in the conference, a few small squares on the screen, we greet each other with alacrity – so good to see everyone is okay – and spend the first few minutes talking about these troubled times we are living. My Maltese colleagues are very worried as cases are increasing also on their beautiful island, probably due to their close ties to Italy. Another colleague is in Brazil, where it’s all still beginning, but no doubt the virus will strike there as it has everywhere else.
Fortunately, now we have all these digital tools that allow us to work from home, so we did our meetings as usual; it was an intense schedule, and I only had time to gulp down a toast with dairy cheese between meetings! The last one was with colleagues in Portugal and when it was over my son Pedro was already here, patiently waiting to catch up with his Mom.
Mother and son again
As with Afonso the previous day, we had a wonderful mother-son time. He prepared a cocktail for us (Vodka with passion fruit juice) and we talked about many things while I got dinner ready; a dish he greatly enjoys, codfish rice with peppers. We discussed life, how it was before and how it will be after the storm has passed. He is worried as he will be graduating in Hotel Management this July, having gone from a situation of 100% employment to zero, but I told him people will travel again and it will just take some more time. I fervently believe that. After being locked up at home people will want to come out and celebrate life, in many ways. This will pass. We have to think positive.
Then I helped him with some work about strategy for University – a subject I thoroughly enjoyed during my post graduate studies in Strategy and Management, and he left. We heard some news before dinner, but it was so depressing – as usual – that I suggested we just forget it all for a few hours and enjoy the moment. He agreed.
DAY fourteen, Tuesday
Today I’m not working; I exchanged my free Monday for today, so I stay in bed a while longer listening to the birds singing happily. Again, it’s a sunny day, although a bit windy.
In the morning, I work on my book (my other work) on some homework my editor has given me. He is tough but all his suggestions have improved my book in such a way that I have no words to express how grateful I am! We have become good friends along this process, and this is now a joint project, not just mine. It’s really our book. It’s great to work with him as a team and this project has been a light in these last few months; particularly now. This evening we’ll have a Facebook call and work on Google drive, meaning we can work on the same document at the same time, in real time. It’s amazing!
The nightmare of going shopping
Today I have to go out, but not just for a relaxed walk. I need some fruit and vegetables and go to the small village supermarket. I choose to go at lunchtime as I expect there will be less people and I’m proved right. No one is waiting at the door for their turn, so I go straight in. The owner – who knows me very well from weekends and holidays – greets me, and we talk briefly about the state of affairs. There is only another person inside the shop (maximum two, we can read on the door) and all the staff are masked and wearing gloves. I hastily take some fruit, vegetables and a loaf of bread and pay. We say goodbye with a “keep well” and I walk home with my heavy bags. Carrying so many heavy things is giving me a backache, my neck and shoulder, who had been so well lately, are complaining about this situation too.
At home I am almost crazy with the de-contamination procedures. I leave my tennis shoes at the door. What about the bags? Think quickly. I leave them at the door too and carry the items I bought into the kitchen. Think quickly again, don’t put them on the kitchen counter, they may be contaminated! So, I take out a huge tray and lay the plastic bags with carrots, grapes, a lettuce, etc, on it. Then I take out brand new freezing bags (that I also use for the fridge) from their box and I proceed to extract the items from their supposedly contaminated bags into the spotless ones, washing my hands every minute. When I finish, I’m exhausted from all the stress and I think that, as much as we try, there will always be some procedure we forget, something that will fail, no matter how many precautions we take. That’s the moment when you have to have faith, and trust in God. Otherwise you’ll be crazy in no time.
I have lunch at three pm, after all this agitation. I should relax for a bit but no, I need to write down my experiences. Going out should be relaxing, should allow you to get some fresh air and enjoy the walk by the sea, but if you have to go somewhere and touch things it’s nothing of the sort. I can only relax if I just walk and touch nothing. Maybe I can do that tomorrow but having to take the trash out and maybe go to the butcher’s, I’m not sure it will be possible. And then, I won’t feel like going out a second time. It just gives you too much trouble, too much stress. Better stay indoors and enjoy the sea view from my window.
Fighting a war
The numbers keep rising: today, we have 2.362 confirmed cases of infected people and 33 deaths. The government is enforcing the State of Emergency, and it’s as well – some people still have not understood what is really happening. Agglomerations are forbidden but people seem to ignore this, so the police have been busy, and the military are ready to help if necessary.
Someone said the other day that we are fighting a war. It’s true, and a very unexpected one. I grew up during the Cold War and from time to time there was a scare that a conflict would explode between the US and the USSR (now Russia). We heard our grandparents talk about the terrible times of WWII, and even if they were far away from the actual conflict zones, in Mozambique, there was scarcity of goods and they lived through harsh times, experiencing fear and uncertainty. Then in 1991 we had the experience of the First Gulf War, that we also feared might turn into a global conflict, and after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq by the US it seemed there was always a war going on somewhere – but it was always far away, no matter how global the world had become. We felt safe in our little western corner of Europe. But now the enemy is here, all around us, menacing and invisible, and we’re shooting at every direction never knowing if we are hitting the target or not. We just pray we are.
I look outside. The village is very quiet. There is an occasional car on the road, and no one is walking by. The sea is rough, and I can see the white spray of the waves, but further from the shore it’s a light blue, reflecting the sky. The first flowers appear on the trees and I see some birds flying in the distance. Nature continues its course. Actually, it must be grateful to this virus, as CO2 levels are going down everywhere and once polluted waters are seeing the fish return again. It’s time to stay put, as we do during a storm, while it rages outside. For me, it’s time to write, and share my experience with you all; how I’m living this new life, with my fears, but also with my hopes and dreams intact. I will not surrender, and will continue bringing you my stories, as I have during the last few years. The many stories of a woman, who just cannot keep them inside, but loves sharing them with the world. Thank you so much for reading them.