Inspired by “Share Your Story” Now I know why the Caged Bird sings.

It’s only a “Gripezinha” declared our totally irresponsible President to his 212,000,000,00 citizens.
Luckily some had other ideas.
I had alreay started working from home by the time an official pandemic was announced by WHO.
Mainly this was to avoided crouded commuting on the Metro and the packed 20 storey elevators at an office building full of Medical consultants.
For the first week there were empty supermarket shelves and it was a bit trial and error for deliveries.
Then there was the relevation forced more to the front of the brain of what was happening.
I´m 69 so right on the edge of a danger segment, luckily my health is OK though I weigh more than I should.
My long term girlfriend moved in leaving her adult daughters in her apartment, and we decided to sit it out in our small but pleasant space.
I have been out once in the last 2 months, about a week into this for a flu shot. I was nearly the only person wearing a mask on the not so crowded streets.
I´m privileged. I speak / read a couple of languages and I am a news junkie. I know how to find information

Working from home is no problem to me. Not being able to walk the streets of my neighbourhood is.
As for Zoom – No. 95% of meetings I attended previously were a waste oftime and any meeting with over half a dozen people about a specific project or item is a complete waste of time.
I use it sans video when I have to. I actually find Skype more easy to deal with and more productive.
Those I work with are not my friends. We disn´t use to congregate after hours so I feel no loss at not seeing them.
What I miss is live music, walking the beach, galleries and museums and street fairs where there is such a myriad of humanity on display up close, unachievable on the small screen.
This is probably why I have no TV and watch few movies.
I can more or less understand zoom for family or friends but it’s totally plastic. I want to look people in the eye, hold their arm, hug them, not see them as if in a zoo.

I am enraged at the sheep like selfish mentality of so many who deride the warnings and gathered in their hundreds on the beaches and hot spots at sunset.
Social life must go on for these rather shallow peopleirregardless of the harm they may inflict on others.
I have always been a bit of a stranger in a strange land but now I see a much harder polarization in society.
It’s a bit wierd as everyone I know and care about is hunkered down for the duration.
But some acquaintances are in a strange denial and then I see them more allied with antivaxers and conspiracy theories and hard right wing lunacy.
I am aware of a death cult out there and have no wish to become part of their experiment.
75% of this country is in the informal sector if they work at all. I try to understand the hardship. No crowds going to / from work equals no clients for all those street vendors.
Shops are always greatly overstaffed by western standards minimum wage and a percentage is the rule. All no longer.
Very few have savings. So on one side the open the economy argument is somethg I can understand but it can only be done if the people are looked after and that I realize isn’t going to happen.
At midday the local church plays hymns over its speakers, I guess that keeps some of the people reassured.
It helps me remember that populations have been through times of Plague and hardship before and survived.
THe favelas are having to fend for themselves. They always have had to. Santa Marta , just a block away, has organized it’s own sanitation and cleaning. I assist by contribution to my local residents association who provide much needed food parcels. I feel inadequate as I cannot physically give assistance to these efforts.

I am now quasi resigned to not leaving my apartment for the rest of this year.
As I said earlier, I am privileged. I have a small area at the back about 15 Sqm for laundry and sitting out and a pretty varanda about 5 sqM with plants and
with a slight view and the landladies small garden with a tree.
THe city is quieter, gloriously so, it was never noisy here as I am off the road but there was always the hum of traffic and buses and trucks occasionally schreeching and the odd shout of people on the street. Because of it’s nature Rio and especially Botafogo was never really polluted so the clear skies are still clear.
My rhythm of life is very different. I don’t feel anxious for myself but more for those I love. I am on the edge of entering the closing stages of my life with my three score years and ten
and so I have the memories of people and places. I now realize that I will possibly never see these people again; My son, my grandson, my unborn grandaughter, my buddies and my lovers from days past.
I shall miss the falling into conversations as if I had never been away, the cameradie, the reminiscing of shared adventure.
My loathing of the system increases. #CapitalismKills. Bankers and political fixers, lobbysts and brokers were never essential workers but the nurses and cleaners and security and transport workers, and delivery boys and shelf stackers and bakers – all these “little” people – where would we be without them.
This is a time of great humanitarianism and the people are beginning to see through the Politicians and hopefully the Religious frauds as well.
But then they will become hungry and then they will become angry and then all bets are off.

The future? Is there one? Should we move to a small village away from everywhere? Will the government / military / whoever is in chage have enough clout to protect the inhabitants from
strife and Plague bearers entering. I must think how to move this forward. I believe in staying put for the moment but the not so distant future must be considered.
The first wave is striking and we have about a month I think to get to peak, but that of course depends on my fellow humans.
It was Lenin who said: “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

The psychological ups and downs were / are interesting.
Tiredness became an issue and S found it difficult to sleep.
I think we both had periods of depression especially as we both had to adjust to living together 24/7
Much harder for her as she has family and very many friends that she used to see quite regularily.
Not such an issue with myself who has always been more of a loner in many ways.
However civil unrest and complete government breakdown, Military intervention or even Civil War does keep me thinking some nights.
The complete Brazilian descent into political madness will be well documented so I won’t dwell on it here.

I’m all go in the mornings and get quite a bit done and then I procrastinate.
Then I realize that at my age I can procrastinate about whatever I like and pretty much whenever I like!
My work deadlines as such are few.
We have to let go of everything we fear to lose.
A routine has aways helped and as some General said; if you want to change the world start off by making your bed every morning and taking pride in a task accomplished!
Getting dressed is something I do to go to the gate and collect a delivery or let the filha in for their take away of mums cooking.
They dutifully stay on the Varanda.
The cowardly cat appears occasionally from under the bed for food or a prowl in the middle of the night, though he is slowly getting less freaked and more adventurous.
So the three of us head into the unknown. Interesting times as the so called chinese expression goes.
Will the people finally rise up against the oppressor oligarch and capitalist class I wonder or will we have Orwell’s future of a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
I know which I want and I fear for what might happen.

Caged Bird
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

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