Dear Diary. I’ve abandoned you a little. Today is July 27, 2051. The truth is that there is not so much to report about the present. I don’t have much time left to live so I have finally decided to talk about the 2020 Pandemic, a topic that I have been avoiding for 31 years. Perhaps after I’m gone, someone will find my diary and it may serve future generations.
The pandemic ended the lives of more than 50 percent of the world population at that time. Faith saved me. Not faith in God, I definitely lost that that year after seeing what happened. What saved me from dying was the search for faith. In January of the fateful 2020, I entered a convent in the middle of the jungle of the country known as Brazil at that time, for a six month spiritual retreat in search of God. During that time I had no contact with another human being. The nuns who lived there had their own fruit and vegetable garden, and prepared simple meals for me that they left twice a day in a hole in the wall. They would open the door on their side, ring a small bell, and I would open the door on my side to find the tray, and then do the opposite maneuver when I finished. The recent separation from my marriage had left me with an identity crisis and depression that determined my destiny. With my sons, 25 and 27 years old and independent, I decided to shut myself away for a few months, to seek in faith the solution to my earthly anguishes. I did not know that during that time the planet would radically change. Nobody could foresee that.
My routine was monotonous. I woke up, prayed with great avidity and hope, read, ate, did some exercises in the small walled and dead-end patio that I had assigned to my room, prayed at night and went back to sleep. Sometimes I would go out to read in that patio under the shadow of a single tree and with a view of the treetops of a lush jungle full of sounds and aromas. I had no contact with the outside, not even electronically. There was an old record player in my room, a real antiquity even back then, with a few museum-worthy records, some Gregorian chants and a couple of Bach ones. So in my search for faith, I was completely absent from what was happening outside our stone walls surrounded by dense jungle vegetation. When the day of my return to civilization finally arrived, it was no longer such. The nuns had a transistor radio that they used once a week and a small antenna on the roof of the church, with which they could send and receive messages from the nearest town. So they did know, at least in part, what was happening, but decided by my express request, not to tell me anything until the end of my confinement. When I requested that they not inform me of what was happening outside, I had no idea that something like that could happen. Neither I nor anyone else really could.
On the first day of July 2020, instead of my breakfast, they passed me a note saying that I could now leave my cloister to have breakfast with them. I confess that, my mental state after six months of solitary confinement without the slightest human contact, had not improved. Instead, it had gotten worse. I was skinny, or I should say emaciated – when I finally saw myself in a mirror – I had not found the faith I was looking for, and I could no longer wait to see and hug my children again. That, I found out soon enough, would not be possible.
During my relatively short absence from the “civilized world”, as we liked to call it -ironically-, almost fifty percent of the world population had been affected by a virus called Covid-19. Many of the first fatalities were people over the age of sixty. With a mixture of ignorance and arrogance, many of the governments of the time concealed the seriousness of the issue for critical days or weeks, causing it to spread like a wildfire. People did not have reliable information, and millions did not take the matter seriously enough at the prudent speed. As the first victims were apparently older, the younger ones continued with their usual lives, without taking enough care of themselves and without staying isolated. That was unfortunately what happened to my children. Despite the elapsed time, I write this while crying. I could never say goodbye to them. By the time I left the convent, they were both dead, infected with the virus that came like the meteorite did for the dinosaurs. Their father was infected while caring for them and did not survive either. My parents were the first to fall. My entire family had disappeared in less than six months. I would soon find out that many of my friends had suffered the same fate. I was able to know all that information through a technology of the time we called the Internet. A global registry of victims had been created with names, dates of birth, death and their location at their final moment. At first they tried to maintain a certain order, but when the health workers began to fall ill, there was no turning back. The closure of shops and restaurants, flights and cruises, theaters and museums that seemed temporary, ended up becoming permanent. Then factories closed due to lack of personnel. The means of transportation stopped working. The agricultural workers who provided food to the big cities fell ill like flies due to the lack of prophylactic measures. One got sick, and due to the lack of labor laws to protect them, and the desperation to continue bringing money to their families, they did not stop working even with symptoms, therefore infecting others. That determined the great famine of the end of 2020. Hordes of people invaded what was left of food in fields and warehouses. By the time the violence started, governments were already unable to control their armed forces, also decimated by the disease.
The larger countries of the time tried to build an alliance that would allow them to maintain control of the situation. It was useless. Massive looting, violence and more violence dominated everything. By mid-2021, so many people had died that they ended up burying thousands in mass graves. Many former rulers and leaders, or once famous people, had a lot of money that was worthless. Like the rest of the people, they couldn’t get the most basic food. Money was worth nothing. The mansions were empty or inhabited by decomposing bodies.
In the midst of this devastating panorama, I made the only possible decision: to return to the convent and remain isolated with the nuns. After all, they were self-sufficient. They had some farm animals, a vegetable garden, honeycombs, a river that provided them with drinking water and solar energy. I had no real reason to continue living, but apparently a person’s survival instinct is stronger and more irrational than any other one. I have never told you about this, dear diary, because, as you will understand, it is not pleasant for me to relive those terrible moments. Hopefully human beings have learned the lessons that this terrible pandemic should have taught. Love, respect for others, the null value of money. I really don’t know what the others learned. I learned to survive as a zombie without my loved ones.
In the last 31 years, my living mates have been dying of old age. The last one I had to bury alone. Luckily, many years ago we had dug the graves among all of us, so as not to leave that task to those who were left alive. That is why I tell you, my daily companion, that I am at the end of my path. Here, alone at 92 years of age, I hardly have the strength to continue taking care of the garden, bees, and animals. My hands, deformed by arthritis and pain, don’t want anymore of it. I hope that the God I could never believe in really exists, and takes care of me giving me the last blessing of dying while I sleep. For now, dear dairy, I say goodbye. You have accompanied me with love, but I no longer need your company. If someone ever finds you, I hope they use you to learn something valuable. They will have to decide what that is.
PS: this writing is clearly fiction. But I beg you to help keep it that way, by quarantining yourself at home, keeping all the hygienic measures and social distance.