Sunday, October 2

Not for now



The year that is ending has been a very good one for me. He has been kind to me because he has spared my life, he has saved my life. It could not be like that, I could get sick from the virus and die. I saw two close friends die from the virus, both younger than me. One was the channel’s sales manager, a man full of vitality, energy, optimism, who seemed invulnerable to the plague. He was generous to me, he congratulated me when the numbers were good, he was happy when I got new sponsors for the show. He earned well, he was a successful man, he had a family that adored him, he traveled frequently, he drove luxury cars. Suddenly he fell ill when vaccines were not yet available and in a few days his defenses disintegrated, his resistance collapsed and he died intubated, unable to say goodbye to his family.

Nobody in the channel could believe that the sales manager had died like that, so suddenly. I was shocked. I realized that if I got sick with the virus, I would lose my life, as my friend lost it. A short time later, a doctor who came to the canal every night to give advice on not catching the plague also fell ill. He was also a successful, wealthy man, a clinic owner, in his early fifties. In addition, he was a sportsman, a mountaineer, he had climbed the highest mountains. Being the doctor who gave advice not to get infected, he was unsuspected of infecting himself. Well, he got sick and died, such was his fate, and in the canal a deep anguish invaded us again and a badly disguised fear of dying.

I was shocked when one of my daughters, who lives in New York, got infected. Luckily she was already vaccinated. He spent two atrocious weeks, decimated by the forces of evil, but he breathed freely again, prevailed, defeated the invading army. My brothers were terrified that our mother, now in her eighties, would catch it. He did not take care of himself too much. She left the house without a mask, said that this pandemic was a Chinese story, put her health and the circumstances of her death in the hands of God, affirmed that God took care of her better than any mask or any vaccine. I was not afraid. He continued to lead, within the circumstances, a normal life. My brothers forbade him to travel by plane. That is why I have not been able to see her this year that is ending. She wanted to come visit us, but her children would not give her permission to travel, they took her passport, they hid it from her, because they discovered that she was plotting a secret trip, secretly from them. Frustrated at not being able to travel, she consoled herself by walking to the parish to hear mass every morning, to the supermarket, where she chatted with shop assistants and cashiers, and to her friends’ houses for tea. God protects me, God takes care of me, if God wants me to go to heaven, I will go fulfilling his will, and if he wants me to continue living, then I will not go, so I am not afraid of anything, my mother said. And it was not infected. And he did not die. And it was not easy for my brothers to convince her to get vaccinated, but in the end she gave up and condescended to being inoculated with a vaccine, vaccines, which she suspected maliciously, in which she did not fully believe. In that sense, the year that ends, having been very good, could have been better, because right now I miss my mother and I wonder if I should have traveled to spend the Christmas holidays with her and with our large family.

We did not want to travel to spend Christmas with our families because we are afraid to travel, the fear of traveling has assailed us again. We had lost it after getting vaccinated, and we allow ourselves several happy trips over the summer, taking advantage of our daughter’s school holidays, but now that the pandemic has flared up and travel restrictions have tightened, it seems unwise to get on a plane, no only because of the possibility of contagion, but also because of the sum of discomforts, annoyances and regrets that are inevitable when you fly to another country: exams here before flying, exams there when you arrive, exams there before returning home, plus the threat or the danger that the gentlemen who occupy the government in our country of origin will resolve overnight to close the airport, a frightening trance that my older daughters had to endure, at the worst moment of the pandemic: wanting to leave that country crazy, an open-air madhouse, and not being able to do it, and then stay there for weeks, months, not knowing when you will be able to escape from that hell of idiotic politicians and bur Foolish ocrats whose first instinct is to confiscate individual liberties and decide for oneself, as if they know how to take care of our health better than we do ourselves.

As it is, we have stayed at home, on this quiet island where we live, enjoying the good weather, this winter that seems like a joke, while our daughter, on vacation at school, studies with tutors in the morning and at the afternoon, preparing for a very arduous exam that he will have to take the first days of the new year, an exam that, hopefully, will allow him to enter a private school, since until now he has studied the five years of primary school in the public school of the Island, not for reasons of greed or austerity of us, his parents, but because that school is three blocks from home, and I have always believed that the best school is the one that is closest to your home. Poor girl, overwhelmed with studies, helped by the tutors, tortured by math and reading, what a beating. When my wife showed me the things that our ten-year-old daughter studies, I was traumatized, because they all seem complex, very difficult, indecipherable, they all escape my understanding, they exceed the tiny size of my intelligence and they seem much more arduous than the questions that, forty years ago, I had to negotiate to enter a university that boasted of being Catholic, when I bragged that I was no longer Catholic, a university where I wanted to study law, only to understand very soon that the laws in My country was a leaden and boring fiction, and that, if I had to dedicate myself to fiction, I’d better write novels: that is, I could be a lawyer, a Catholic lawyer, but that path, that of honor, that of pride that perhaps my parents would have felt for me, it seemed to me that I led to the abyss of misery, to the precipice of living a wrong life, and so I chose to be a talker and a writer, or a talker and a writer, or a charlatan and a I was down, and it was not so bad for me, here we are still, forty years later, speaking and writing, which are two ways of feeling alive, of resisting death.

This year that is ending we will not go to the party at a nearby hotel, which we have attended in recent years, thinking that we would have fun. Well no: I keep the worst memories of those parties. Everything seemed horrible, deplorable, horrendous to me: the smug, jeweled people, dressed with regal airs, made up and perfumed, flaunting their watches, their handbags, their shoes, as in a seedy competition, in bad taste, to see who was he had put more money on top, all ridiculous and puffed up, all hideous and boastful; the consistently loud, cacophonic music that insisted on playing an orchestra of morons who believed themselves to be virtuous; the ugly, loud, quarrelsome, brothel songs, as if they were playing in the courtyard of a prison or a reformatory for criminal piranhas; and the food served on tables of tables of tables, an obscene amount of food, of all meals, that were attacked by people who were no longer hungry but persisted in the ignoble habit of swallowing to swallow, of eating until they burst; and the dancers weighed down by inexperience, bungling, bungling, who nevertheless performed pirouettes, zigzags, acrobatics and contortions, as if they were in a dance contest on television. We found everything deplorable at those New Years parties and that is why we have promised not to return this year. We’ll stay home, have a drink or two, and cuddle our cat and dog when they startle with the midnight rumblings.

Next year I ask you a few things, if it is not too much to ask, if it is not abuse: that no one in the family gets infected, becomes seriously ill, for which it will be necessary to cancel more trips and persist in the use of the mask, to risk of appearing paranoid; that my mother and I can meet here and not there, because there are my enemies in the government and I prefer not to visit; that our daughter enter a good private school; that the channel does not fire me or continue cutting my salary; May the novel in which I have encrypted great illusions end well and come to life when read by the handful of noble readers who have not yet abandoned me; that we can travel to London at the beginning of the summer and to Frankfurt at the end of that season, because it does not give us the leather to go to Europe in winter and because my wife speaks German but she was never in Germany, where I was forty years ago, as a reporter from a newspaper; and that, when we get to December, we can say, as we say now, we are all alive, all well, loving each other very much, in good health, without money problems, that is to say that we are happy, very happy, although better if we say this in voice low, conspiratorial, as if hiding the secret, let’s not summon the insidious goblins of disappointed chance, that regiment of bad dwarves, bastards, who sooner or later will come to take our lives: not for now, evil pygmies, no! for now!

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