The Days we Live

a story for our times

Most people seem to have heard of epidemiologists these days. That was what I trained to be, but currently I work for a multinational, analysing and sequencing DNA. I love my work, but I’m never going to get a Nobel prize. I am just one of many, a single drone in an army of scientists. All that I get are instructions to look into this, look into that. That’s how science is—you never get to know the whole picture.

In the spring of 2019, nobody was expecting Covid-19. Life was carrying on the way it always had. I was coming down with a cold that I couldn’t ignore for much longer. I rang my boss.

‘Hey, we can’t have you sneezing in the clean-room,’ he said. ‘Take enough time to recover, and then we’ll think whether it’s safe to take you back.’ He always made the same joke.

I decided to go to the local chemists to get a flu remedy, walking towards what passes for the high street round here, with its betting shops, charity shops and burger bars. That was the time that I first witnessed the strange performance.

Rita Draper Frazao

Rita Draper Frazão

A small cluster of people had gathered in front of a busker who was getting ready to start playing. I wandered over and stood at the back. You couldn’t call it a crowd or even an audience. It was just a few people drawn by casual curiosity—the way people will gather round to watch a paramedic treat an accident victim.

The musician was making elaborate preparations. He had hung a large sheet, fixed to some kind of scaffold structure that stood against the wall of the boarded-up building behind him. In the centre stood his saxophone, looking like a crucifix on an altar. It was placed on a stand which, in turn, sat on a low table, and beneath it, on the ground, lay a large, ceremonial embroidered red cloth. I was so absorbed in the spectacle that I forgot about my cold.

the story continues on the next page…..