13-04-2020 by Giovanna Grampa
Half the world's population lives confined to their homes, deprived of their personal liberties because of the current epidemic.
The world changed too quickly and none of us were prepared.
I too, like everyone else, have been locked in my house for more than a month, surrounded by an unusual silence, while outside the air is springtime and nature around me continues its life, day after day.
There is no shortage of time in this period.
Refractory to the cursed screen for too many days with the sterile count of the dead and infected, intolerant of the sermons of experts and sometimes not experts, often in contrast with each other, I need to relieve the tension of a forced segregation that forces me to a pensive loneliness, aware however that the voice of the savannah in me has not gone out.
I see old photos and the images come back vivid and fresh in the mind's eye, accompanied by the smells and sounds of Africa as in a magic lantern and suddenly the nostalgia becomes unbearable pain of those who want to go "home".
Among them, one in particular brings me back to the reality of my urban savannah: an elephant looking inside the observation point of the Voi Safari Lodge at Tsavo East. Then, I remember, while I was taking the photo, it was a particular emotion and smiling among myself I thought that, for once, an animal of the savannah could admire a human behind bars, in a cage.
Today it is a sad reality and I pause to think of a world upside down, immersed in a myriad of restrictions while the masks we put on are nothing more than the physical symbol of our prison. Real muzzles of all kinds that sadly give us moments of life without looking us in the face, denying us even the warmth of a simple smile. I need a flying carpet to escape from reality and make my captive mind fly, asking for consolation to the savannah, to the hours spent (yesterday) observing nature and its inhabitants, while today I am sometimes surprised to think about the similarities between us and the animals, too often slaves of the restrictions imposed by man. Starting from my dogs that look at me astonished when I wear a muzzle to get out of the house. I read in their eyes a sneaky satisfaction because only now I can understand how uncomfortable and humiliating it is to wear it because I am obliged to. I think about the confinement of animals in zoos, or structures such as bioparks and the like, which we know have a profound effect on their psycho-physical health so that stress and boredom easily take over. And now the animal-man is living on his own skin the same psychological discomfort that negatively affects daily life, precisely because he is in a cage. There is always an impassable limit beyond which we cannot go. We are lost and we do not know how to move, in fact we do not move at all!
We practically cannot cross the threshold of our gate to get out: they have blocked our migratory flows as we have blocked them to so many animals of the savannah by building railways, urban centers, insurmountable walls.
Now we also understand the safety distance that animals often put in place when they see a danger, not least man.
We now call it "social distancing" which obliges us, however, to stay away from each other, perhaps in line at the supermarket, all blindfolded, face covered, with distrustful eyes because the possibility of contagion makes us suspicious, selfish, melancholic.
We swing resigned with our shopping trolley like elephants that go down to the river to drink and our mind runs in the savannah when zebras or giraffes run away at the sight of a car: they run farther away frightened by the danger, and then stop at a suitable distance to look curious and suspicious, leaving reassured in single file.
In these difficult days the value of the family is also rediscovered, especially where there are children. And just as in nature animals take care of puppies, human mothers now have plenty of time to dedicate themselves to raising their children. The game plays a strong role as an intellectual stimulus and is expressed in the interaction with the natural environment, with relatives and their relatives: habits that are valid for humans and animals.
However, I must forcibly treasure the time I have found and keep a certain detachment from the general catastrophism in order not to give in to melancholy and look beyond enjoying the sunsets, dawns and flowers of spring: it is a show that fascinates me and makes me think positive. The air is clean, the sky is clearer while nature lives again and takes up its spaces in the unusual silence of the day.
Emotions experienced in "my" African savannah. The earth is beginning to heal and in this new and unexpected scenario our cities are much more wild than we thought until recently. Wild animals enjoy the empty cities that in a few weeks have turned into urban jungles invaded by all sorts of wild animals: you suddenly realize that in the lagoons there are fish, in the meadows there are hares, wild boars with cubs, foxes in the old towns, and in the skies the birds warble happily and busy preparing their nests.
The animals, as soon as there is a bit of tranquillity they put their heads out and the non-human living person, for once, is doing better than us. It is one of the few positive effects of this emergency that we do not know when it will end: seeing wild animals not in an alert position is a privilege these days. Flocks of swallows have also returned from Africa to nest and reproduce, a ritual that is renewed every spring with incredible precision, bringing a breath of joy and additional hope.
Sooner or later everything will end and when we will finally be free, the embrace between people will come back, eyes will smile again and we will greet each other like elephants, with sound barrels of joy and twists of proboscis. To Maiora! There will be better times for our smiles and affectionate hugs.
For now, in this time suspended between the real and the unreal, I continue to ask for consolation from my urban savannah, waiting to see the African savannah again, more exciting and desired than ever, making the words of the director Pupi Avati my own: "It's as if the film was broken: I would like the film to start again!
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