A day in Lockdown
La parola Lockdown è ormai simbolo della Pandemia da Covid 19. Il racconto che segue ci riporta all’inizio di un evento periodizzante per tutti ma soprattutto per i giovanissimi. Unisce alla parola lockdown la parola scuola. Lo ricevo da una giovane scrittrice belga, che ha una voce per ognuna delle sue lingue: inglese, francese, italiano, fiammingo. Nora Grolig scrive. Punto. Quale lingua scelga per farlo, la sua voce è destinata a essere letta. Con immenso piacere ospito questo suo breve ma intenso scritto nella versione originale inglese.
The word Lockdown is now a symbol of the Covid 19 Pandemic. The following story takes us back to the beginning of everything for everyone, but especially for the very young. It combines the word school with the word lockdown. I get it from a young Belgian writer who has a voice for each of her languages: English, French, Italian, Flemish. Nora Grolig writes. That’s it. Whichever language she chooses for her writing, her voice is bound to be read. With immense pleasure I host this short but intense story in the original English version.
di Nora Grolig
The house is burning as the blue birds drop the bombs on the city. The flames reduce everything to ashes: the trees, the cars and the buildings have all turned black, just like the Rolling Stones wanted. She frantically tries to open the window but starts to feel the scorching heat on her skin, her hand turns faintly pink and begins to sting. The flames are quickly gaining territory as she realizes the window is stuck; there is no escape.
The piercing sound of the alarm wakes her up. Her eyes slam open. The sweat on her skin makes her realize she is in her bedroom. With fatigue weighing down her eyelids, she tries to resist the temptation to fall back asleep. After a couple of minutes in bed, desperately fighting her sleep starved brain, she stumbles out of bed. Hopefully the sun is shining today… She opens her curtains and… Shit! Dark grey clouds are roaming over the sky, covering all of Brussels in a thick depressing coat. Yet another reason to feel cranky today…
She walks over to her closet and grabs the first sweater she sees. She has been wearing the same one all week because every time it returns to the closet, she places it in the first row, making it the first in her sight every morning. She walks over to the sink and splashes cold water on her face then brushes her tangled hair. Yesterday’s haircut was still blatantly unequal, thanks to her sister, but the blue hair dye she had applied a week ago out of sheer boredom had been a surprising success. Just like everyone else, she had thought that if there ever was a moment to make a radical change, this endless lockdown was the perfect opportunity. She tries to make herself a little more presentable but what’s the point anyway? She can just turn her camera off.
Glancing at her phone to see the time, she trots back to her desk. The class has already started. She quickly logs in on her computer with a few clicks and joins the call. She pats her hair into position and pinches her cheeks even, while making sure that the “no camera” and “mute” boxes are checked. The high-pitched voice of her French teacher, Mme Bastille, suddenly fills the room, breaking the silence.
It is the seventh painful Monday since the start of lockdown. She has been trying to live in the moment but it is easier said than done when everyday is unchanged. The daily pattern repeats, like a stable heartbeat. She has spent hours wondering what the future, a future far ahead, may hold for her. She has been researching courses for university, daydreaming about college apartments and sorority parties. Let’s just hope this fucking COVID doesn’t get in the way. The teacher calling out her name on the screen interrupts her thoughts again. “Nora? Can you answer question 7?” Panicking, she swiftly goes through her folder looking for a page containing a question 7. “Nora?” the teacher repeats. There’s no other solution, she will just have to say what everyone else does: “I am sorry Mrs. Bastille, I can’t hear you well, I think the connection is breaking up”.