Saturday, May 9th, 2020
A reflection by Dina Adão
It’s nine in the morning. Sitting in front of the computer, impeccably made up and dressed as if she were going out, my daughter stares at the screen. She pulls a terrible face and mutters some insults. Her books are scattered all over the floor and she stares at her watch, visibly exasperated. The router is not responding. We live in a place in the countryside where only one telecommunications and multimedia company can reach us by cable: Meo. The service, which was never particularly good, only covering half the house at best, is now dreadful. In teleworking, I share the classroom at a distance from my student, from 9 am to 4 pm. Throughout the day, our faces exchange angry grimaces, exacerbated by the slowness of our computers’ prehistoric processors. It’s deplorable. I’m prevented from improving the situation, as I’m not allowed to install satellite dishes in the condominium. All that remains for us, therefore, is to sigh, turn off the computer, and … try again.
Every day I try to create positive content that will remind the community I work with that life is what is inside us and that, even in stormy and difficult times, it’s essential to create in order to feel that we’re alive. On the phone with a friend, I have an outburst: “It seems that, at this moment, I, who care so much about telling stories, lack the strength of spirit.”
“Perhaps this is a time for non-stories. Why don’t you tell a non-story?” he challenges.
I keep thinking about this. For many hours.
I tell stories with my mouth, eyes, body, fingers… As an archivist, I tell stories; as a librarian, I tell stories; and I also tell stories as a journalist, as a faithful lover of photography, and even when I collect rubbish on the beach. In some media, I even have a nickname that I cherish: “a weaver of words”.
I stop to think about the importance that stories have in my life. I know that, one day, when I look back, I will be able to say that there was a point when I learned to surrender to time, a point when I felt that time passed more slowly… A time when I was able to look at the furniture next to the rubbish bin – and consider giving it a new life.
I will remember that it was at that time that I understood (because I felt it for the first time), the poem by the brilliant Fernando Pessoa: “Oh, what a pleasure / Not fulfilling a duty / Having a book to read / And not doing anything!”) It’s a magnificent poem, and I’m somewhat surprised that it’s only now that it has got through to me in such an impressive way. Its title is not a fluke. It’s called: Freedom.
So, when I tell this story, one day, I will forget to mention words like “confinement”, “social distancing”, “Covid-19” or “state of emergency”. Like any good story, I will dress it up in a new guise. I will remember the many times that I felt like a woman with seven instruments, the many other times that I forced myself to put problems into perspective, feeling immense warmth and tenderness towards other people, and other times when I felt the need to give things a new life.
By the way, tomorrow I’m going to the hardware shop. I’m going to buy some sandpaper and a small tin of white paint for wood and I’m going to tell my room a new story. Or should I say: a non-story about an old-new bedside table?