We have really enjoyed reading these journal extracts from some of the Fabulamundi playwrights based in Europe, posted earlier this year in reaction to the days of isolation during the pandemic. We hope you enjoy them too!
Italian Author Valentina Diana is one of the Fabulamundi selected authors for this project. You can read more about her here and the original text here.
little words from the apocalypse (more or less daily diary by Valentina Diana) – part one
what I understood and what I did not understand escaped me.
I missed it and everything escapes me. time escapes me because when I try to concentrate, I immediately get a message or a thought or a desire not to think about anything but very simple things. basics, like washing the tops of the doors (how did it never occur to me?) or disinfecting a bottle or sewing a mask with a pink satin ribbon cut from an oriental silk robe given to me by a friend (heavy smoker), who I don’t know anything about at the moment (her retired doctor husband is a hospital volunteer, he has other things to think about). Her dressing gown, I thought, is soft to touch. I sew my mask for no reason, since I’m not going anywhere, at the moment. My reserves are few, I did not stock up on food because when I found myself at the supermarket I felt sick and did not want anything. It all seemed unnecessary. I forgot: toilet paper, sugar, yeast, flour, pasta, salad, carrots. I remembered: biscuits, bottle of wine (one. Why?), laundry detergent, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, salami, lentils.
They changed the wording of the self-certification. Now you have to print the new one. The old one did not say: I have no coronavirus symptoms. The new one says: I have no coronavirus symptoms. I printed and filled it in. I did not write the date but I wrote the number of the identity card. My hands were shaking. She wasn’t sure I was telling the truth as I wrote my full name and ID number. Why were my hands shaking? Why wasn’t I sure I was telling the truth?
I’m afraid of everyone. Everyone is afraid of me. I’m afraid of the me that everyone is afraid of. My husband left me eight months ago. I was counting the days. Now I don’t count them anymore. I resented it. We said, I love you. We said I love you. We have to meet again. But after that we didn’t talk anymore. He never replied to me and I never tried to look for him. We were suspended in nothingness. We don’t love each other anymore. We never loved each other. What is love? All the measurement criteria have shifted but I have not lost the unit of measurement. In this house I have a wood stove. I keep it lit as a presence. To warm up. There is a need for this heat that does not stop. The stove, I tell myself, must always remain on, it must not stop heating.
Out there is the sun. The trees have sprouted and many trees have flowered. Nature is overbearing outside.
My son is far away in Ireland. Yesterday I called him, I told him: you have to come back. What if something happens to Grandma and you are far away? He said to me coldly: don’t lose your temper. Today he called me back, he said: I have a possible flight from Dublin to Rome, and I could come from Rome by train. I told him: you have to stay where you are. My son was patient.
He said: try to make up your mind. I said: I don’t know. Do you? Then I said: Stay. Ireland still seems to me a more protected place. Italy seems to me to be all contaminated. I want to raise a hand and keep my son out of the water. Save him from the flood. Know that you are safe. Swimming underwater.
My mother says: stay calm and don’t lose your temper, settle down, don’t be crazy, don’t say things that might make you think things that might make you think you can’t cope with panic. Breathe. I do a yoga tutorial on Youtube. Yoga philosophy of kindness. The girl speaks in a velvet voice: fear breeds anger. anger breeds violence. fear must be transformed into kindness. After half an hour of exercise. After a breathing and meditation session. Breathe. I let the air in from one nostril, I hold my breath, I let the air out of the other nostril.
I should finish the novel about the time I fixed my grandmother’s clothing while my husband left me. That period seems so distant to me that I find it hard to recover its meaning. I re-read pages and pages and it always seems too far away.
I don’t know what to do with all my past.
I have a very dear friend who is sick in London. She tells me: I’m not calling you because I can’t speak, I feel like coughing. We write. I try to tell her light things. Then I tell her I love you. I can say almost only this.
She replies: I love you.
I’m looking for a religion, some kind of religion that works for me right now. A prayer for a person who is sick. I try to believe that this prayer can work even if I don’t have a god to address it to. I address all my prayers to the fire of the stove, I have the thought accompanied by the sound of the fire.
In the newspaper they say: they track cell phones. In the newspaper they say: physiological fascism. We are giving in, we are calling for control measures that until a few weeks ago we would never have accepted.
I think of Etty Hillesum. Of his diary. Of his ability to focus on the good of things. Of her remaining steadfast to attention.
My dog is always with me. If I go to bed, he stays next to me on the bed. If I’m in the kitchen, he’ll lie down next to the table. When we go out he runs with all his strength behind the wood I throw at him. He believes in everything: in food, love, water to drink, caresses and the sofa where we spend most of our time.
Today is Tuesday. Yes, because yesterday was Monday.
They say they don’t lose track of time and days. I wake up early in the morning and make coffee and look outside. It’s neither good nor bad outside, the sky is sky and all the leaves are alright. If someone dies they say it in the morning. They put the number at the bottom and the original numbers move, to make room for it. The numbers tell us in the morning.
They repeat them in the evening. Tomorrow will be Wednesday.
I saw a person. I walked on the other side of the road. They were a person (I don’t know if they were male or female) like me. I had the dog on a lead. I wanted to let him know, that we had met. So I raised my arm to see what would happen. Walking, pretending nothing happened. I saw that they too, the other person, raised their arm, pretending it was nothing, to greet me.
Isn’t there another day that isn’t Sunday?
I would like to have a day that is neither Sunday nor Monday nor Tuesday nor all the others that have already been.
I wish scientists discovered a tiny day, escaped from myth, gone unnoticed, still completely uninhabited.
A clean and nameless day, to be kept well, to take great care of, to be a lifeboat, with all the remedies, absolution.