Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
Last week my mind was the scene of a landslide of memories and emotions. It’s taken me a while to collect my thoughts. My email began flooding on Wednesday. Messages from people I haven’t seen in decades and even from people I don’t actually know. Brazilian media was awash with stories of one of their more famous doctors/scientists getting Covid-19, then being put on a ventilator. Then there was a story about him dying. Except that was a mistake or fake news and was debunked by one of those fact-checking sites. He’s alive and apart from the Coronavirus he’s got Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which was followed by renal problems, which was followed by dialysis. This was all peppered by a maliciously edited video of the man saying only useless old people die of Covid which is circulating like wildfire. Of course that’s not what he meant at all, but people want to get clicks so they’ll happily pile on to an already dreadful situation.
I don’t have any personal knowledge of events because I haven’t had contact with my family in over 20 years, but the man in question is my grandfather — which is why people from a long time ago have been emailing me.
We haven’t gotten along since I was a child. He’s a patriarch in the classic Latin, and very much Colonial, style. And as most of you already know that’s not a good match for my temperament. In any event, even though we’re estranged, these events have caused in me a general malaise. More than anything a sense of waste. Wasted energy, wasted emotion, wasted time — wasted expectations. Wasted. I think deep down I’ve always had that flicker of hope so natural to the human psyche that things end in resolution. The moment in the film when someone says now I understand. You know, before they die. Of course I consciously know that only I can give myself the now I understand line.
Anyway, that’s where one is right now. From what I’ve read of Covid-19, once combined with ARDS, renal and circulatory problems and advanced age, we’re looking at an extremely high mortality rate of probably over 75%. I knew this moment would come one day and I didn’t know what I’d feel. It’s profound malaise.