I had a phone conversation last week that didn’t begin and end with Covid-talk or touched upon Covid at all. No, it wasn’t a wrong number from Mars or any of the nearby planets free of the coronavirus. Nor was it from one of those World War soldiers living in isolation in a forest somewhere who had been stuck there for decades and didn’t know the war was over or that man had landed on the moon.
It was from a friend living nearby. What we said was interesting, but what was important was what we didn’t say. This probably means the pace of the Covid infections is reducing and that we might be able to take off at least one of our three masks the next time we go out to an empty park.
Reading signs is what we do these days. Did it rain on Tuesday? Then it probably means that Covid is ready to leave us. Has the dishwasher packed up? Then it probably means Covid is ready to leave us. Did Federer win his opening round at Wimbledon? Then it probably means Covid is ready to leave us. Have we begun talking about Covid leaving us? Then it probably means that Covid is ready to leave us. We cling to hope with the grip of a barnacle on the side of a ship.
In our less rational moments (which is most of the time), we ask whoever arranges these things to send us a sign. When nothing happens, we pluck out signs ourselves and interpret them with the confidence of Greek scholars interpreting ancient texts. When we read about the third wave, we pretend it is the virus waving us a vigorous goodbye.
In our more rational moments we fauci (common word which means "to look at a problem and suggest rational solutions" and also "to act sensibly"), and we tell our friends and relatives to fauci too. Every country learns to fauci in its own way.
We crave for ordinariness, for doing the simple things the way we used to. Like running to catch a bus or pushing and clawing our way to the head of a queue. When was the last time you fought with a waiter who brought you hot soup when you had asked for coffee? Or insulted a groom at a wedding? We have been denied these simple pleasures for too long.
Some friends tell me they have gone through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, and are now in the sixth stage, partying recklessly. You can fauci all you want, they mock me, we shall enjoy ourselves. I wonder what that’s a sign of…