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Plaguetopia: Living with the virus

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Mar 29, 2021 10:57 am

Living with the virus is like going to your much-needed retreat with a dead man tied to your back.

The smell of death follows you around even as you move bearing with you the weight of a corpse. The sense of misfortune and calamity leaves its mark as the rope carves spherical blood clots ‘round your shoulders and neck.

It’s a terrible way to live, but live we must. Survival is one of humanity’s raison d'être, our reason for being and valor. No matter how much some people scoff at resilience nowadays as we call into account all those responsible to get their act together, our situation doesn’t give us that much of a choice.

Either we adapt swiftly to the threat confronting us, do whatever we can to stay alive, or we could find ourselves on the wrong end of a decades-long hostage situation.

It doesn’t help that many see the vaccine as a business proposition, a chance at profit even as the world plunges into its darkest hour. If we’re not vigilant, it won’t be long until fake pharma cartels start manufacturing bootleg vaccines in seven candy colors and with a discount on Shopee.

Speaking of life under a pandemic, online selling, no doubt, has been a boost to the economy or at least our sense of an economy. With the risk of infection rising as new variants spread under our climate-damaged scenario, having our food and supplies delivered to our doorsteps offer some much-needed reprieve from contagion.

With the announcement that another weeklong ECQ is being implemented, delivery services have their work cut out for them.

It was the happiest day for me when I learned of how my wife got a hold of my antacids and a kilo of pork and beef, some veggies, a case of beer, potatoes, and jalapeños for a Spanish dish she was preparing that day.

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, would’ve been proud at how humanity has taken his invention and turned it into a grocery list of abilities and a hundred other carte du jour for pizza.

The workplace, too, has undergone a major transfiguration. My daughter, who works as editor and writer for a foreign content provider, tells me of the flexi hours, to say little of the survival wages that go into 1,000-word pieces on landlord or automobile insurance or every other article shy of dismembering Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or Calculus.

“But one has to be careful not to end up working with a scammer,” she said. “I spent years learning the avenues I must take to know the scammer from the real deal.”

My son, who writes long-form game guides for another foreign content provider, eats his breakfast, lunch and dinner and a hoard of midnight snacks on his desktop console, leaving his pigeon hole only when shopping for my cigarettes.

The wife’s Zoom meetings, writing engagements, lectures, and tête-à-têtes with fellow writers and friends are all done via cyberspace. She, the quintessential millennial, binges on K-Drama, Pinoy horror flicks and funny videos in ways that make a boomer like me look silly on the internet. If she can do the laundry via social media, she’d probably take a crack at it.

In fact, my wife finds it handy to use a screen keyboard when writing her novels than a real-life, wake-up-the-neighborhood typewriter-type keys. On certain days when she finds it difficult to rise from bed, my wife pens her weekly pop-culture columns using her smartphone. In her nightie.

It’s a brave new world where being holed up in one’s house allows everyone to be everywhere doing everything all at the same time.

The world I once knew—the world where one can lounge on a grassy knoll at the park to stare at the stars, enjoy a beer or two al fresco with friends, bring a date and snore inside a movie house, waste time in a mall or just while away the hours in a cozy, smoke-filled bar till three in the morning, among other things—is slowly coming to a close.

It’s about time, I guess, to reimagine our world, how it should be like, a slower, kinder but nonetheless freer world, at liberty now to love our neighbors as well as ourselves, care for the planet, catch up not on old times but visualize a better, livelier future, all with the hope of finding better opportunities to live with an ongoing threat on our lives.

Humanity has done it before, hence, for sure, we can do it again. We can begin by not voting the violent, the mediocre and the halfwits into office in 2022.

That’s the one variant of the political contagion we can do without.