In the middle of a very early Monday morning, I was awakened by unbearable noise of helicopters flying over my neighborhood.
The reason: a fire broke in a luxury building 100 meters from mine. Brand new building, in one of the most expensive square meters in São Paulo, next to the Faria Limers.
At 5 o'clock on a chilly morning, terrified residents packed on the sidewalk, among forgotten protective masks, some barefoot, others with their dogs and cats on their laps and even one with his safety box on hand.
In the midst of the chaos, they tried to find out how the fire broke out on one of the top floors of the building. Rumors began to emerge: malfunction of electrical equipment or short wiring, domestic accidents (a cigarette on the mattress, a flat iron on the couch), a couple fight.
The first facts came to the surface: several papers were burned on the balcony in a disorderly manner, starting the fire. At first the resident of the burnt-out apartment, a man over 65 years old, said he was with 4 more people at the time of the fire. File burning? Ritual of prosperity? In the end the speech changed: the man said he was surrounded by robbers who threatened to burn the building. The building's video circuit showed: he was alone at the time of the fire. No suspicious third party moves for now. It is being investigated as his only fault.
When I commented to my friends, it was the first comment of all: “Of course, 65 years old, alone, must have gone crazy in this pandemic”.
Then, they immediately changed the subject. Probably thinking of me when I heard "had to be, alone, lonely living alone” … me.
Well, this text is very much an exposition of my fears of living alone, really. The dirty clothes and the lamentation of the cliché and prejudice of the society of "home aloners" I leave in another text.
When I see news like that, I have a chilling. Really. How married people get that also when they see news of passionate crimes, of mothers who went crazy and killed their partner, their children.
Because in crazy isolation times like this, all the mothers that I know is one millimeter of getting crazy with the triple journey.
Madness inhabits in all of us.
I remember a scene that touched me a lot, over 35 years ago, when a mother killed her 3 children and later committed suicide, and the children who were studying at the same school as me. Everyone was shocked. The mother was normal, the children were kind, the father also. My mother cut out the newspaper file and was in agony reading the news for 2 whole weeks.
Her agony, in addition to the heinous crime, was thinking: could I ever do this? Who knows what went on in that mother's mind: some trivial reason, a betrayal, or a short brain circuit. My mother, the one I love the most and the one who loves her children the most, how could I do such an act? Maybe not. Maybe yes. The other did. Others too.
Well, we're all human, aren't we? We have our weaknesses, our fears, and our impetus. Can we all be affected by a moment of madness at some crucial point?
I sometimes feel afraid of myself, in a few moments, living alone.
When you live alone, it is you with yourself.
As much as I interact with my parents, with my friends, work providers and acquaintances, almost daily, if one day I hit my head on the corner of the sink and die, they will only come to me after 3, 5 days.
My moments of loneliness, panic (which were not few I must confess in this time of pandemic) are mine alone. We can even externalize in jokes, on Instagram, but deep down, that stays with us.
When you live with someone, like a family, children or partner, you police yourself and police the other. If you woke up one day with a broken vein in your eye, if you look bad, if your hair has not been washed for a good few days (and there are people who are weeks).
At a time when confinement is necessary, you can end up changing the day for the night, the weekend for the working day, pajamas become everyday clothes, you can end up eating Doritos all week.
And when you have that dangerous spark of madness, how did this mother 35 years ago, this gentleman who for some unknown reason set fire to papers putting his life and so many others at risk?
It really gives a tremendous fear to this race that is human.
I think discipline and routine are our allies. Waking up at the same time (preferably not at 2 pm), dressing like going out on the street, brushing your teeth 3 to 5 times a day, bathing religiously every day, talking to someone online at least daily, keeping even working hours, even if you don't have to, is fundamental to our sanity.
And lastly and most importantly, maintain the link with the people you care about. Whether with your family, with your love, with your crush, with the doorman of the building, with your friends or animals. Without the link, madness is lurking. It leaves no safety to marital status nor age. Let us take care of each other.
Kisses and hugs by distance and we all may win this battle.