The number of cases in Portugal is as high as 1035, and we are still in the middle of the day. If this is our darkest hour, nonetheless, the day seems surprisingly quiet. It's been a rainy weather since yesterday, I'm not sure if it makes any difference to the virus; now the sun gets back. There are few people in the street, but they seem to enjoy the sun. The cars still go up and down, and the busses, and the bombeiros, sometimes putting their sirens on, but usually in silence. Anyway, they have the road mostly to themselves.
Yesterday I bought a notebook in the Pakistani shop downstairs (still open, immigrant shop is always open; it would be a sign of the end of Europe if it were closed), with the firm intent of learning a language, any language, Dutch, Arabic, whatever. But my brain feels like cotton inside my skull. It's mostly "Gazeta Wyborcza" that puts me in this state, offering daily updates of the chronicle of our demise. Over and over again, they menace the members of the government with prison sentences to come. The situation brings to my mind that old Spanish joke, tasting so bitter now: Canta, puta, canta, que te queda poca vida. Meanwhile, the utter political collapse is closer than ever; apparently, I am the only person to see it, among a chorus of voices repeating solemnly Canta, puta, canta like some sort of healing incantation. But it heals nothing at all, of course. Hungary is done already; they gave up to dictatorship with barely 500 cases and 16 dead; it will stay on the pages of History as Velvet Epidemic.
This is why I bought this notebook to learn Dutch. I still have my KLM ticket to Amsterdam, on 2nd May. I need to make order in my life, step by step. Find a place to stay, anything to do. Paris-Seine apparently still considers hiring me for their excellence program in October, but be that as it may, my affairs in the Netherlands must be clarified and preserved. I must acquire a citizenship. Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehen. Be on the right side of History.
PS. Later in the afternoon, the tonality of the articles in "Gazeta Wyborcza" suddenly changed, providing the readers with complete scenarios of the authoritarian takeover of Poland, to come true over the next six weeks or so. No one can say we did not see it coming.