Madrid’s Uncertain Certainties

“We are living in uncertain times” – that’s what they keep saying.

Uncertain, unfathomable and scary.

The course of the corona-virus has taken a predictable yet sudden turn here in Madrid.

I write this, from my balcony on a familiarly quiet Sunday morning.

A city that is normally quite notably full of life, Madrid is generally serenely peaceful on Sunday mornings. The workaholics take their day of rest, the party-goers have not long returned to their bed and the religious part of the population ready themselves for church.

But this morning, the eery tension is thick in the air. I’m not used to having companions on the surrounding balconies, like me, sitting and watching the world go by with impatience.

The buses that hum along the street below me are empty and the few passer-by’s move with a great deal of intention, with agitation and with brimming shopping bags in their gloved hands and some have masks and scarves up to their eyes.

This time last week was like any other Sunday. Apart from checking on the increasing number of cases both in Spain and worldwide, I rose, I showered I drank my coffee and planned my busy day.

I couldn’t have predicted that in one week I would be sitting here, unable to go outside apart from necessary trips to the pharmacy or shop.

The course of one week in Madrid brought with it great change – the schools closed on Wednesday, companies were urged to work from home on Thursday and on Friday, all shops and services other than supermarkets and pharmacies were ordered to close.

Then today, we were moved into a phase of complete lock-down. No movement outside our homes save for necessary trips for food or medication.

I dread to think what another week has in store for us, but frankly I do more than that – I simply don’t think about it at all, or try my very best not to.

These times are tough for small businesses, they say.

I saw someone post on Facebook that “the corona-virus will bankrupt more people than it will infect” and I suppose it’s probably true.

Yet while the government pour out plans of tax breaks and relief for some companies, there is hardly a murmur to the community of teachers here in Madrid of which I am only one of many.

Even worse for those of us as Private teachers – effectively freelancers whom aren’t protected by a school that will worry over us and aide us.

A surge in sudden class cancellations for us equates to an unexpected loss of income that surely won’t be lent or returned to us.

While some offer to take their classes online, others don’t spare a thought for us – terrified only of what this means for their own families, positions and economical situations.

As humans we naturally protect our individual needs and those of the ones we love, and during a global pandemic it’s difficult to worry about others, of course, I understand it.

Such “uncertain times” they keep saying.

Only on Friday, did the government finally take the burden off of me – whom, terrified to lose money had still been commuting to many classes and interacting with an array of people at my own risk.

Finally, the academy I work for that had been urging me to carry on as normal (while they probably worked from home) has taken action and told us to cease face-to-face classes. Yet regarding financial relief – they were silent.

But somehow, in these uncertain times, I have found my certainty, my normality.

I am certain I have to stay at home. I am certain, that I must keep my sanity intact. I am certain that I must work at every means to maintain a steady, albeit small, income. I am certain that I will lose money and times will be tough for me and millions of others.

But I am also certain, that by listening to simple instructions and staying in doors, by washing our hands and staying healthy, we are doing out best to fight this.


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