Between masks, gloves, physical distance from others and working tirelessly while most people were forced to stay home and the streets were emptying, I had the feeling that the world was ending. The world was ending but I couldn’t stop working and working non-stop, because many companies did that new thing called Eerte, which was actually fired people. I was thinking about the bills, which would not be paid even if everything we ate was out of the containers. My brother and I only had each other, there was no one we could ask for help if we fell off the cliff. Maybe because I thought about it a lot, my day to day seemed like a tightrope walker walking on a rope between two skyscrapers. That image didn’t help me at all but it haunted me all the time. Order small packages of rice, the piiip of the boxes, the frightened ladies who did not remember where the detergent they used was, fights in the queue of customers, angry reactions because someone had gotten too close, the thorough cleaning with disinfectant during the noon hours, the sweaty hands, the plague of masks, all of these were the steps I took on top of the rope suspended in the air to reach the other end, which was nothing more than the collection of a salary that would allow me to pay the bills. And once it arrived, another month and another and another began again.
The ultimate change
At night, in the silent darkness of a suddenly ghostly city, I dragged my feet until I got home, my body still standing out of sheer inertia. I didn’t want to think, all I wanted was to eat a little and go to bed, but I had to take care of my brother, he made him dinner and left the tray at the door. I would withdraw a bit and from there he would speak to me. He told me what had angered him that day: the poverty, the system, that everything was a consequence of the cuts, that now at last the real aspect of the savage neoliberalism in which we lived has been seen, that the disease was a punishment for our immoral behavior with nature, which had now turned against us in the form of a pandemic. And that this was, obviously, the end of the human species, the only one capable of contributing to its own extinction. There is nothing to do anymore, he told me, and I was going to sleep to get up the next day and leave him breakfast before going to the supermarket.
My brother was getting thinner. He had shaved to zero to avoid wasting water, he wore the same clothes day in and day out, and in one of our conversations at two meters, a little excited, he had told me that now, yes, now that he would make the definitive change towards a life truly sustainable. That the pandemic was a unique opportunity to change our behavior. That from then on he would do a well-done consumer strike and it would no longer be a problem. That he did not put more corpses on the tray because once and for all he would embrace veganism, which is the only acceptable moral behavior. Neither generate waste, nor kill other species or pollute in any way. It would decrease to stop the machinery of savage ghoul neoliberalism.
All this he told me with his haggard face, paler than ever. I asked him about the symptoms and he told me not to worry, that he was fine, but that anyway maybe it would be good for all of us to reduce the world population a little and that nature is wiser than us and he knows very well what he is doing. I was scared to hear him say that kind of thing and it seemed to me that he was getting a bit out of touch with reality, that from being locked in his room connected to a completely virtual world, he was losing perspective on things. I reminded him that those who died were people, like him and me and grandparents who were not to blame for neoliberalism, I don’t know what. But my brother’s eyes had turned to glass, maybe because he slept little, hooked as he was to the internet.
Some Sundays when I had a little time, I would review his activity on networks and I discovered that the messages he published, especially on Twitter, were increasingly aggressive, of a strange violence on topics that he personally did not even care about. they came to him. He flogged any opinion he disagreed with relentlessly, often contradicting himself. And he was not the only one, many people he followed, people until then quite reasonable, had become veritable hooligans of opinion.