I met a war correspondent once; I was in my late twenties, he was in his early 70s (mid 40s probably); we were classmates at an “Executive Seminar on Military‐Media Relations” and, during a break, a group of us sat down around an old wooden table – with a flavorless watered coffee in our cups – and listened to this man’s war stories. Amazed, like a child in front of a hero, I asked him to show me his war correspondent credential and … it blew-my-mind. I thought “I want that! I could totally do that!”
Now, almost twenty years later, in a quiet city from the end of the world, I find myself writing my Argentinian Chronicles – about the historic Covid-19 outbreak – from a white privileged home office thinking “I could take the bus downtown to get some pictures, but Oh-My-God what if an officer asks me – gently – to go back home?”
I’m sorry, children of the future.
I used to envy historians, writers who were lucky enough to witness something so important that would be sufficiently worthy to ended up in my school curriculum; that is in fact one of the reasons I started writing these chronicles, as you know. But, I was aware that I’d have to be careful; I’d have to read from a bunch of them – specially from those who’d had different point of views and political affiliations – because none of them held the truth.
When I’d find discrepancies in their narratives, I’d wonder “Why would they lie? Who is telling the truth? Do I need to break in some secret government facility to know the facts? Would I find any facts at all?” Then one day, when I was a teenager, I found a couple of books – among my father’s belongins – which had in their cover something like “Malvinas War – Top Secret Documents”… And I read them… And, let’s just say I learned things I’d like to forget and that were not in my history books; but… “Top secret, in my house?”
Anyway, the point is back then I thought “My time will come and when it does, I’m going to tell the truth! I’m going to dispossess myself from all subjectivity and tell the truth and nothing but the truth because, it’s simple! You observe, write down what you see, and that’s it; right?” Now I am starting to realize that my naivety was so big and dumb that it makes me feel like petting it.
If you watch the Argentinian news from the other side of the pond, you’ll see there had been some riots here, people breaking in and stealing from a supermarket; there had been people getting arrested for not complying with the quarantine… and people dying, of course. But outside my house, at Matilde’s corner, the neighbors are walking again… and “we are still in quarantine.” Some do it in pairs, some with their dogs; and the old ladies with their carry-ons? There they are again… It seems nothing is happening… It’s all so quiet…
Meanwhile, as I read international news, I see New York has refrigerated trucks to serve as temporary morgues; a nurse from Italy complains about inhuman labor conditions; celebrities do live parties on social media and the conspiracy theories surrounding China grows. The New York Times informs there are tents in the Central Park to treat overflow coronavirus patients from Mount Sinai hospitals, while the Central Park Conservancy sends me an e-mail to “Explore the hidden corners of Central Park this spring.”
I believe the hashtag of this era is “We are all in this together”, but… Are we? And what is the truth that next generations are going to have in their history books?
During my first years in High school, when I started to become a history nerd, I asked my parents about the darkest Argentinian time: The Process; in 1976 a group of military rebels – sort of speak – took over the government and used the Constitution to wipe their asses; they tortured and killed people; they made people vanish forever; a van would come to someone’s house to take him or her for questioning… and that was it… “Vanished.”
I went right to the source…’s neighbor and asked my father about it, because back then he was in the army already (with the good guys); he got tears stuck in his throat and didn’t answer much; I believe he saw more than what he would wanted his little girl to know. Then I went over a witness! and I asked my mother as well; and she said:
“I can’t recall; it was such a long time ago”
“It hasn’t even been twenty years yet! – I replied – How can you forget something like that? There were people taken from their homes! How come you don’t remember anything?”
“Yes… But out neighborhood was quiet… We never saw anything”, she said.
I always thought she was lying to me, but now I see that’s probably the only truth that pathological liar said in her whole life. And so I wonder, Am I really being part of history? Am I actually writing history here?
Further more, some are saying China is lying about the death toll, because – supposedly – they were handing approximately 3,500 urns with ashes daily, while the official death toll haven’t had reached the 3,000; the doctor who told the world about this new virus – Ai Fen – was reported missing in big headlines and then she was found right in the content of the same article … So, what can I know for sure? What do we know at all…? Right now, right now when we are “living the history”, do we know anything at all?
Children of the future: “I am worried about when I can get my mother (smuggle her, early in the morning) to dye my hair, because I would really like to start posting my monologs on YouTube and I want to look young and pretty; the other day, I had a great time watching NKOTB zooming on YouTube and I forgot about the possibility of having caught the virus from my sandwich’s package over lunch, so I had another one for dinner.
The Ritalin and the lack of sufficient training, makes me feel all day I’m on bad, bad batch of cocaine; consequently, one day I feel I’m writing a master piece and the next day I feel it’s nothing but the result of a weird trip; and I’m sorry to say, that is what you are reading.
Also, I deleted all the social media apps from my phone so I could breathe before I wake up; therefore, instead of scrolling down Twitter’s timeline – trying to survive Kim Kardashian’s make up tutorial for the quarantine and Trump’s… “tweets” – I play a game where a nice lady tells me “Great job!” (for the sake of my ADHD brain’s necessity to feel rewarded). That, is my history.
I cry over New York almost every day and there are moments when I wish I was there, suffering with its people… And as I’m trying to leave something worth reading for you, I think about taking a bus downtown to take some pictures of this quite place in the end of the world… But ‘Oh-My-God, what if an officer asks me – gently – to go back home?’
Children of the future, I’m sorry. History is not “the whole series of past events connected with a particular person or thing;” history is a puzzle which will always have a missing piece. This is my piece, one of countless around the world… and I’m probably (hopefully) the pretty lady – with great black hair – in that book in your school library, that you read outside your curriculum to have some fun … while you try to learn ‘something’.
This is all I have… Sorry…
PS: Don’t trust the movie for Christ sake.