By Angela Barbiera
Day 14 of hard isolation: sanctioned cum legis, or if you go around without a valid reason they arrest you (or fines you). My father asks me by phone: "Is it a valid reason to feed the hens? They will die if I don't feed them."
Anyway, we're locked up in the house. I feel like a pinball, bouncing from one room to another, colliding occasionally with my children and my husband. On TV they continually show images of deserted cities, Bergamo, Milan, Rome ... the numbers of infections and the dead bounce off the walls of the house, crawl on the ground like the virus. It is only 7.30, I take my coffee and I leave the TV, I go out on the terrace. I have a rabbit (it's actually not mine): it's a wild rabbit that comes every morning to a clearing in front of my house. But this morning there are two. They jump together, and do not keep within a meter. My husband approaches me in plush steps like a lion in a dressing gown and slippers, with a coffee and a cigarette, in silence we watch the two rabbits hopping free approaching a mugwort bush.
I have to go out for shopping. There are no more masks and gloves, so I only have a makeshift band that I made with kitchen paper and stapled elastics. There is a little queue outside the market, a woman greets me. I tell her: "Take off the mask, I don't recognise you." She hesitates a few seconds to remove it, but we are outside, three meters away from each other. When it's my turn, I go into that supermarket... Wearing that pseudo-mask that pulls my ears.
Day 15 of isolation: While I prepare my coffee, the TV passes images of military convoys, many covered in black drapes. I ask my husband what it is - archive footage of the war? No, they are yesterday's dead. The convoys transport the corpses from Lombardy to another region because of the numbers. They will be cremated. I take my bitter coffee and look out on to the terrace. The rabbits are not there.
Today 15 days have passed, theoretically the incubation period of the virus, but the minister says that almost certainly the date will be extended. Perhaps children will not go back to school, there will be other restrictions, other businesses will close. I think I need to stock up on supplies. If I thought about it yesterday! Now I have to risk going to the supermarket again in that mask. Finding food has become the only priority. I think of my family. My children. I'll have to buy more flour, they like pizza. What did my grandparents buy during the war? Little, there was very little then, everyone was used to living with little. Not now.
I give my computer to my youngest son, he has to follow his lessons. The oldest follows them on his smartphone. I think I too must prepare something for my two disabled pupils, but it is not easy for children who need to socialize above all. It helps to do video calls, they see my face, I talk to them, I also sing, I tell myself that it is not enough and I hope that this situation will end soon.
My husband is looking for something to do. "I think I will paint the gate," he says. He has no inclination for craft projects and I am a little afraid that he may get hurt. We couldn't even go to the nearby hospital, as it is only for coronavirus patients now.
Day 17 of isolation: The TV says it is the worst day in terms of the death toll. I hang on to the coffee machine. I'm stunned. I have a bottle of disinfectant and put it at the entrance. I have to disinfect the whole house. I have alcohol, bleach, a disinfectant that kills 99% germs and bacteria. I start cleaning the whole house in this way, I wash carpets, slippers, everything that happens to by within reach. I think I have a panic attack, every rag that I pass is a blow to the coronavirus. Invisible enemies: how many have I killed today? I feel more reassured after all this sanitising.
I have to take off my dressing gown and pajamas that taste like disinfectant. Before, I only stayed in my dressing gown and pajamas when I was sick. Now what does it matter to change? I bought a hair dye, I haven't been to the hairdresser for a lifetime; I will try to cover the regrowth even if I'm not as good as a coiffeur.
To find myself alone for many days without relating to others is hard. When they say it's over, will I be able to leave the house without fear?
Life in lockdown. Womankind approached its community to write about life in lockdown around the globe, notably a three-day diary of everyday life under the threat of COVID-19. Womankind is publishing these stories freely to show how the pandemic is affecting women from all over the globe - from New York, to Barcelona to Glastonbury.
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