Ah, the plague – a true carnival for the enemies of mankind!
During the night, the enormous faces of the presidential candidates on the roundabout were blown down by the wind. The next morning a whole brigade appeared on-site in a van, debated the issue for a while and finally decided to set the faces sideways to stabilize them. I bought eight loaves of bread for my parents, who are afraid to go out. I was carrying the loaves along those faces when I decided to retreat into solitude. To entrench myself, to disappear without sticking any part of my body outside, not even the tip of my little toe.
Therefore, I got stuck at home, if you can use that word to describe a big kitchen with two small outposts: a bathroom and a hallway. The table, which was once used for eating, became covered in work taken home (in the form of a large screen, a smaller keyboard, and a tiny mouse with which the cat became friends immediately).
But the pandemic has its pros and cons – that’s what my proofreader friend used to say, the one I texted on Messenger about my dream. I dreamt that I was elected president and that I had seven chins and a speech to give. An array of advisors, distinguished PR specialists, suggested I should not write my speech down, since reading from a piece of paper may not be well received. I disagreed. After all, I would prove that we, the government, had achieved the impossible and conquered the last bastion of illiteracy! My retinue of advisors humbly responded that the President of the Republic of Poland does not hold any true power and that I should do as I was told. Therefore, I magnanimously agreed not to read my speech from paper and rely on my phenomenal memory instead. Alas! The author of the speech had apparently suffered from a little slip of the pen, times were tough and the proofreader had been fired long ago. Thus, I started my speech with the words: “Dear mellow citizens!”
I woke to a rustle of ovations, a sound more pleasant than the rustle of crisp cash, although some who tread this Earth would disagree. I carefully extricated my ear from underneath the pillow and grew convinced that the Earth is indeed trodden by a few other people, among them my neighbours.
7am. Saturday. The middle of the end of the world. The perfect moment to wash the terrace. With a Kraken. The high-pressure thing. I open the stronger eye, I try to think with it, as well as with my right leg. I’ve read that positive thinking is highly recommended during the pandemic since all psychiatrists are busy working in specialized hospitals. So I think with my right foot. How wonderful! I’ll save up on coffee because my blood pressure is high enough as it is (almost as high as the Kraken’s). Along with my public transit card, it’s the second thing that will allow me to cut costs in these dire times.
Yes, my mental health is in perfect condition during lockdown. Ever since I’ve started shopping online and avoided standing in checkout lines with other representatives of so-called humanity, I have almost forgotten about its existence. I repeat – almost. A pen pal of mine, passionate supporter of all-nature-except-the-anthropomorphic-one, recently dumped a bucket of cold water on my barely-hatched optimism by observing that only a tiny part of all seven million parasites feeding on our planet died because of the pandemic, and so, here I quote, it’s “too early to break out the champagne.”
Standing by the window without a cup of coffee (and without a glass of champagne), admiring the incredibly clean terrace of my neighbour, I think of how difficult it is for us, standing erect, to adopt a non-anthropocentric pose. To look at the pandemic from the perspective of animals regaining control over more and more areas in cities that have fallen asleep. To adopt the perspective of Mother Earth, tortured by our ruthless species that constantly craves for more. Despite our loved ones dying and unspeakable anguish affecting our brothers – to see across species differences, to look into the distant future and see the benefits of limiting all this human build-up in nature. The ability, even if momentary, to put the well-being of other animals before our own, is the only thing that distinguishes humans from (other) animals.
Translated from the Polish by Joanna Piechura
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