14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 27 March 2020 — Unlike other Fridays, on this one there are no calls to get together with friends, appointments ahead of the weekend or preparations to go out on Saturday and Sunday. During a quarantine every day is the same, they pass without much change and with little commotion. The challenge and the real fiesta is to wake up and breathe without difficulty every morning.
With 80 positive cases of coronavirus and more than 1,600 people in isolation, in Cuba we are emerging from a long torpor. A numbness derived from the delay in taking measures at the national level to slow the advance of Covid-19 and the naivety of believing that — like a hurricane — at the last minute the pandemic would change course and miss the Island.
But neither prayers, nor illusions, much less indifference, managed to twist the path of an opportunistic infectious agent that can only multiply within the cells of other organisms. Forgive me if I extend the metaphor too much, but this description reminds me of the Cuban political police, who cannot live or transcend without those they eternally watch over: the dissidents.
One would think that in times of coronavirus, the “restless boys of the Apparatus” would be sent to find out who has a fever, but no. They are still there, sending subpoenas to independent activists and journalists. In a country where there is so much to do in the midst of this crisis, State Security prefers to fight citizens than to face a microscopic thing.
Speaking of small things, today we have managed to buy a piece of mortadella that arrived at the rationed market. A slice of a mass pink in some parts, green in others, which should serve to withstand part of this quarantine. I found a fish bone just after cutting it, although the employee assured me it was made from “chicken and meat.”
While I decipher what the sausage contains, I continue sewing masks. The first ones did not suit me, but little by little I understand the proportions, the fit and the amount of fabric to use in each one. Although the World Health Organization has warned that this type of facemask does not prevent us from being infected, at least it relieves me to think that there are asymptomatic infecteds who will reduce the scope of transmission if they wear one.
I sewed one for a neighbor and stuck on the logo of his favorite soccer team, another came asking me to do a “reinforced” face mask because he works in a state cafeteria where they continue to sell food to the public, and a little girl wanted me to give a few stitches to hers — pink and sequined — that had broken in one corner. Curious, that people try to set their own guidelines in the midst of an emergency.
Days are not measured in 24 hour cycles. Every day we count the friends who have called, the onions we have left, and the pounds of rice that are diminishing. We count like maniacs the times that one of us has had to irretrievably leave the house to buy some food, go down to walk the dog, or repair the elevator in the building, as has happened to Reinaldo each of these last days.
When we return from these forays, there is no hug or welcome. A chlorine-soaked cloth awaits us in the hallway. You have to leave your shoes, go directly to the bathroom, spend a long time washing your hands, your face and getting rid of part of what you carry. Later, the rest of the family begins to approach but without violating the yard of distance.
This virus has stolen our hugs. I just hope it doesn’t take anything else away from us.
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