Stories and News No. 1221
We won. Once again we won. Because we are still alive. Because surviving is our triumph. And the simple daily life, which follows this unexpected primacy, is the prize.
The first time the virus appeared and made its roar heard in the world, our world - immensely more tangible and vast than yours, it was in another country. Another nation. With different and at the same time similar humanity, identical for the undervalued preciousness of living and incomparable for overestimated trifles. Nonetheless, none of us has ever dreamed of considering those people as cruel planners of the evil or perfidious infectors. Because for us senseless hatred has a very high price and when you are forced to buy it, we know how the story ends. For the record, it was June 1976 and in the aforementioned sister land, nearly 300 were infected by the most invisible enemy of human beings, a creature of negligible size and proportionally inverse danger. At least half perished and fear began to germinate in us all. Because another thing we have learned over time is that when bad luck strikes near peoples, it can be more contagious than any disease. It is a pity that the same does not happen with good luck. Since then, for more than twenty years, the microscopic behemoth has traveled from one life to another, from one death to the closest one. We knew that sooner or later it would reach us. Because that's what such life-hungry monsters do. They are pervaded by the irrepressible ambition of biting clean breath, invading the free flowing blood and devouring the flesh still devoid of dull chains. They wanted us, everyone would like to be like us, after all. For this reason they fear us, for this reason they sometimes reject us, for this reason they rob us of the future. Because we really are alive.
The first time we clashed with this formidable adversary was in October 2001. Only a month after the part of the planet usually less ravaged by the sadistic puppeteer called destiny had tasted some of the horror that in our latitudes is daily script. At the time we were already a republic, convinced that this was enough to face any adversity and unaware that we were only at the first episode of a long war. In nine months 44 have left us. They seem few, I know. But at these shores the count of the disappeared is much more complex and varied, and those due to the blows of a deadly virus are only a relative portion of the final calculation. We won that first time. Because as already mentioned, in the end, in the light of the following day, we were still here. Life, the aforementioned prize, has resumed its course and we begane to celebrate its gifts. But we knew, because we know, that the struggle continues, always, incessantly. We open our eyes in the morning every holy day, and we do not close them until we have to. Because there is an angry beast out there, and it will catch you, one day it will. That day will be night. And someone else will wake up in our place the next day, for us, us in him and him in you.
The second time the feud began in December 2002 and lasted four months. 128 have passed to the other side of life. Not before having hugged them, paid homage, greeted them, but never forgotten. And we won, again. Still alive, or survivors, which for us are synonymous.
The third challenge lasted just over a month and in December 2003 we prevailed again, leaving 29 on the field between sisters and brothers, children and grandchildren, dearest and loved ones gone.
In the following two years, we cherished the illusion that the battle had ended completely and then, in April 2005, it all started again. A month later we sang victory, for us and for the 10 who hadn't made it.
In 2007 we had become a democratic republic and this made us more confident in ourselves and in the future. But the viruses do not care of our faith and it has returned to poison us for the fifth time. Teaching us that it's up to us to show those who get in our way that what we believe is stronger than ourselves. It was a triumph even then, despite the loss of 187 companions.
The sixth attack was in December 2008 and lasted about three months. 14 lives was the ransom that the virus required to declare itself defeated.
The seventh fight began in June 2012, went on for five months, and 29 fell on the battlefield.
From August to November 2014 the virus took 49 of us and from May to July 2018 the losses were 33. Nine times, do you understand? We felt invincible. Vulnerable, but unbeatable. Sure of ourselves, of the inexplicable force that flows in the body and its surprising effectiveness when the enemy comes in and charges you with all the violence it is capable of. Because we knew we could survive, because we were already dead, yet still alive. However, viruses don't know this, that's why they come back, that's why you should never let down your defenses and feel completely safe.
The tenth time was August 2018 and more than 2000 were killed without mercy. Because you can only expect the latter from your fellow men. And if it doesn't come from them too, well, you're in really bad shape. It took almost two years to put an end to the slaughter and in the end we rejoiced, but this time in silence, with moderation and respect. For the dead, but also for the enemy. Because this too is what can save you today and every future tomorrow.
In fact, when the virus tried to raise its head again for the eleventh time, we pushed it back from where it came and raised the only flag that counts. It's called health, health for us and health for you, wherever you are.
For now, we have won. This means that it is possible to win. That we can survive Ebola and any other virus. Because we are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but we are like you. We are alive. We know what death is. We met her. And we survived. Because the prize called life is worth fighting every single time. But together, we can all win only together.
My new book: A morte i razzisti (Death to racists)