painting Deb Monti
These powerful words from Italy’s acclaimed novelist Francesca Melandri stopped me dead in my tracks last night. They are from a letter that she wrote to the UK. In it, Melandri shares insights, thoughts, feelings and many of the many emotions that Italians are dealing with in lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on their country.
I feel her words could quickly become our reality here in Canada.
We are but a few steps ahead of you… we watch you as you behave just as we did a short time ago, “it’s only the flu, why all the fuss?”
You will eat, you will not sleep.
You will miss your adult children like never have before; the realization that you have no idea when you will ever see them again will hit you like a punch in the chest.
You will make appointments in the supermarket queues with your friends and lovers, so as to briefly see them in person, all the while abiding by the social distancing rules.
You will count all the things you do not need.
You will not understand if witnessing the birth of a new world is more grandiose or a miserable affair.
The true nature of the people around you will be revealed with total clarity. You will have confirmations and surprises.
And when you blast I Will Survive from your windows, we’ll watch you and nod just like the people of Wuhan, who sung from their windows in February, and nodded while watching us.
Many children will be conceived.
Your children will be schooled online. They’ll be horrible nuisances; they’ll give you joy.
Elderly people will disobey you like rowdy teenagers: you’ll have to fight with them in order to forbid them from going out, to get infected and die.
You will try not to think about the lonely deaths inside the ICU.
You’ll want to cover with rose petals all medical workers’ steps.
At some point, you will realise it’s tough. You will be afraid.
You will eat again.
We’re in Italy, and this is what we know about your future. But it’s just small-scale fortune-telling. We are very low-key seers.
And if we turn our gaze to the more distant future, the future which is unknown both to you and to us too, we can only tell you this: when all of this is over, the world won’t be the same.*
(*words have been extrapolated from Francesca Melandri’s letter to the UK)
Her prophetic words continue to resonate with me.