Epiphany

Gustavo Ogarrio

If personal diaries try to enclose our days in a fatuous order, the virus and its venomous snake, apparently breaking the order of our days, is not able to liberate time either… Not completely. Maybe it maintains it suspended. I’m not sure whether this suspended time will be transmitted with the same intensity as the time external to the pandemic. Neither do I know if we will maintain a broad memory of the epidemic much further from its historical momentum, 2020: a coronavirus pandemic that maintained the entire humanity in suspense, starting from the city of Wuhan in China, traveling like an invisible and soft plutonium bullet from Asia to Europe, America and Africa, maybe even Oceania, and that finally came to settle down in Insurgentes Avenue, as well as in the evil rosy nights of beautiful circumferences, in the early morning, which zephyr crossed the Aztecas Avenue in Santo Domingo, rising up to Contreras and, at the same time, integrating itself in the Aqueduct of Guadalupe. Which collective diary would be able to capture and multiply the voices’ order that received this assault of the mucosae and the trachea? 

On the afternoon of April 9th 2020, on Holy Thursday (Jueves Santo), after a crystal-clear rain that stimulated the city’s immobile photosynthesis, highlighting the trees’ smell and the Jacarandas purple color, I decided to go down Mexico City’s streets in my car. What I saw was similar to an epiphany, to a revelation unfolding as if a balloon were to be blown up slowly: something silent shivering, a mouthless whispering, expressed through the picture of a city soaked with a translucent and majestic rain, of a magnificent and frightening city at the same time. I saw the proliferation of vagabonds, now even more uninhabited, grappling with an absolute solitude, without the floods of human beings that used to keep them out of sight of the touristic picture. I saw a stand selling tacos al pastor, full of hungry mouths, eleven or twelve.  I saw Francisco Sosa Street as a river of stones, repeating the times of my childhood, now without witnesses. In Santa Ursula, I saw a closed street in which a priest was officiating liturgy with a facemask, surrounded by parishioners separated by a distance, opening their hands to start the Lord’s Prayer. On San Antonio Abad Street, I saw the abandoned games of a fair: the stateless and broken cups on the ground, disseminated on the green wooden floors; the rocking horses stopped in the compass of its simulated movement: I heard without hearing the laughter of the last children who rode it. In the Valle del Sur neighborhood, in Iztapalapa, one street away from my parents’ house, I saw a wheeled market detained in timeless pre-pandemic smiles, in the texture of juicy oranges and in the yells revealing the prices of fish and meat. In a hospital in Tlalpan, I saw entire families withdrawing in the hallway; I saw myself among them, with a facemask, and surgical gloves. On the balcony of a building, I saw five or six people doing a barbecue and drinking beers, as if they were rising on a flying plate that lifted them away from Earth. I saw my old friend Bertín’s smile and his brother Abraham, in his encapsulated soda and sweets shop in a market in Coyoacán, in an apocalyptic desert. 

México City, April 10th 2020.

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