They seem to have lost appetite. The supermarket is full of food, but very few people come to buy it. For sure they eat from the abundant provisions already accumulated in every home. It would be hard to take us by hunger, at least here in western Europe. I eat my grão-de-bico one by one, stabbing the grains with the tip of the Swiss knife I brought from Ukraine, an old gesture inherited from by-gone wars that I had learned from old males in my remote childhood.
I believe the situation is stabilising, although stabilising on a level that... that what? That is much lower than the worse scenario. If we see a true Apocalypse, like on the movies, it will be in the United States, not here.
Lisbon keeps up its brandos costumes, nothing like highly restrictive measures. People stayed at home, I suppose, because they got an excuse to do so, and gladly spend their time in the company of their smartphones. The Nepalis here where I stay unanimously decided to quarantine their days under their colourful Asiatic blankets, as if they all had a strong infection already. Only in the evenings they seem to recover to intone scraps of old songs that will stay in my mind as a symbol of this emergency.
Confronted with a catastrophe, we all return to old songs, old gestures, ancestral behaviours, magic practices that will effectively grant our survival. At least in terms of our mental health. Incense burns on the tiny domestic altar that accumulates a figurine of Buddha and a plastic miniature of St. Peter's Square. Myself, although it has never been my religion, murmur over and over again the Gayatri mantra: oṃṃṃṃṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ suvaḥ... tat savitur vareṇyaṃ... bhargo devasya dhīmahi... dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt, just for sheer antiquity of the sound sequence, with a greater proficiency of the ṃ that I might ever expect, taking into the account the usual state of my nasal tract and my limited linguistic talents. The sun over Lisbon is bright, the sky intensely blue; let's contemplate its purity, let's celebrate the great Breath of the earth.
I do change my outlook on culture under these circumstances. I do see how these obsolete contents, that I used to consider as parasites of our minds, actually help us to navigate across the strait.
Overall, nothing happened. The missiles over Riyadh had been neutralised once again before they hit the ground.
"Za to u nas to koronawirus ugina się pod złowieszczym ciężarem Polski" - an expression found in a reader's comment in the electronic edition of "Gazeta Wyborcza".
Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ suvaḥ...