Quarantine Diaries – Day 5
March 19th, 2020
On 10 March a 30-year-old man was stopped by the police in Turin at 2.30am while soliciting a sex worker.
Things are getting desperate and sex sells; however, according to The Guardian article, the violation committed by the 30 year old man requiring immediate sexual attention wasn’t the most serious one—it just happened to be the most interesting. Again, sex sells. Nevertheless, and to my great disappointment, the bigger emergency concerned a gentleman in Sciacca, Sicily, “who had tested positive for Covid-19 [and] was discovered by police while out shopping, despite the strict order to self-isolate at home.” The only consolation is he could face a maximum of twelve years in prison; thus spoke the Italian law.
Ah, yes, punishment to make us all feel better about ourselves while giving us the semblance of control over things we have no control over. Zarathustra, on the other hand, spoke the following: “Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!”
I understand things are serious, but if breaking quarantine could potentially spell twelve years in prison, what will they do if things get really bad? Dictators, too, justified extreme measures in their attempt to fix problems and people loved it—well, at least in the beginning; in the end, not so much. Yes, it’s bad, but let’s not get carried away here. At the same time, the situation is very serious; it’s perhaps even grave.
Italy has been under quarantine for over one week. Everything except pharmacies and supermarkets are closed; despite these strict measure, however, Italy, with 475 deaths yesterday, recorded the highest one-day coronavirus death toll for any country—and that includes China. Why is this happening?
The following graph shows that although Italy has fewer cases than China, Italy’s death rate, at 7.94 percent is two times higher than China’s. The accompanying article to the graph is here.
Still, none of this mitigates the fact that food does eventually run out and people must go out to replenish; that’s what happened to my brother and I yesterday. What else could we do but go the village supermarket nearby our house in the morning? About forty seconds into our escapade, I realized how beautiful everything was. I stopped my brother and asked him to take the picture you see below; do notice the peace sign and the middle finger—an emblematic representation for the duality of man. To be honest, however, I no longer know which hand represents Dr. Jekyll and which one Mr. Hyde.
Oh, Italy, what have you done? Look at the beauty around us. Perhaps it’s useless to complain—to care about the past or the future alike. What’s the point of whining when the scenery around you looks like this?
Maybe, like Rimbaud, we should focus only on the present. In a letter (May 6, 1883) to his family—having abandoned poetry for eight years at that point—he pensively reflected: “You tell me about politics. If you only knew how little that means to me! More than two years since I’ve seen a newspaper. All those arguments are incomprehensible to me nowadays. Like the Muslims, I know that what happens happens and that’s all.” I must be completely honest: I do feel like Rimbaud at this time.
I don’t know if there’s really a point to this hysteria or not. I feel safe here—and difficult as it is, I don’t really mind staying at home. I’ll go out to buy groceries and if the cabin fever gets really bad, I may even break quarantine rules once or twice—if they decide to institute that bloody exercise ban, should things get really bad. Don’t worry: I promise not to elicit sex on the streets in the process.
Go ahead. Kill me—I’m talking a walk without needing to buy groceries. Should I have told you, officer, that I was going to buy them so you wouldn’t have to punish me? As my brother’s former piano teacher in Los Angeles used to say: “There is always solution.” (Yes, I deliberately left out the article. You see: Sam is a product of the Soviet system, having studied at the Komitas Conservatory, one of the best in the USSR; he now works as an Uber Driver in LA, however, because it pays better than teaching music.)
Again, what’s the point of it all? I don’t know and I don’t care anymore. In the words of Dr. Denis Leary, who never did become the starting center-fielder for the Boston Red Sox: “Life sucks—get a fucking helmet.”
To hell with the coronavirus. I’m not scared of it. Cancer, nuclear war, and Donald Trump are obviously bigger threats. There’s still no cure for cancer, but people continue to eat red meat, smoke, do drugs, sunbathe, jog on the freeways, and work in coalmines, among other things; meanwhile, nuclear weapons look like they’re here to stay and Donald Trump poses the least danger out of the three; that’s always comforting. Wouldn’t you say so?
Really, this all comes back to Sam, the classically trained former piano instructor turned Uber Driver in Los Angeles; I should advise my brother to contact him—encourage him to quit smoking. After all, cigarettes kill more than 1300 people every day.
Yes, I’ve used this line of argument before, but I just can’t help it. Now it isn’t just about strangers, statistics, and facts—this time it’s about Sam and I really worry about him. He’s such a great guy who happens to smoke. Someone help!
Truly, to hell with it all, but let’s continue anyways. If you ever wanted to know how grocery shopping is conducted in a village, the day has finally come for you to find out. This is the aforementioned grocery store we visited today—notice the cashier walking out in full hazmat gear; oh, wait, never mind—it’s just a mask. Sorry to lift your spirits and then disappoint you; that’ll happen often.
Well, at least the people gathered around the store will communicate the proper impression of panic.
One person goes in; one person goes out; three people can be inside the store at one time. At least the shelves are full and so long as there’s enough to eat, it’s possible to survive any famine, but only if you can travel to work and earn the money to buy food.
All the way from quarantined Italy: I may seem crazy now, but in a month everyone here will be no different.
Until next time.
About David Garyan
David Garyan has published three chapbooks with Main Street Rag, along with a full collection, (DISS)INFORMATION, with the same publisher. He holds an MA and MFA from Cal State Long Beach, where he associated himself with the Stand Up Poets. He is currently studying International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage at the University of Bologna. He lives in Ravenna.