door Mariëm Zian, a.k.a Lady General
14 March 2020. I’m on the train to Alkmaar, feeling a bit awkward and uncomfortable.
I have a long-standing appointment that, despite the measures announced yesterday, I still have to make good on. Everyone else is staying at home, schools are closing down… Catering outlets are still open – for now – but the silence at Centraal Station was virtually tangible. I’m practically the only person in this train car, and I’m still having trouble really comprehending what’s going on. Just to be on the safe side, I text my friend to make sure that her housewarming party is still on. The answer: yes, for sure.
15 March 2020. I’m on the train back home. It’s quiet. I’m glad to have taken this opportunity to see and meet some people, because I’m starting to realise that this whole business could go on for quite a while. Exiting the station, I stroll into the city. The cafes and restaurants have closed their doors.
A few lost tourists still amble around with dazed expressions, but the Great Hush has begun.
All the way home, the streets are abandoned. It’s like I’m stuck in a film.
Silent and overawed, I walk on. What more does the future hold for us?
Today: 23 April 2020. Almost six weeks since the day on which our lives were forever changed. The first two weeks were weeks of relaxing, slacking off and a lot of reflecting on the frantic past few months, which had been regularly punctuated with thoughts of ‘I don’t want to go on like this.’ It’s as if that silent plea has been answered: everything that caused me even the slightest hint of stress has ground to a halt. No more hectic office work, no keeping minutes for the task force that I am a volunteer member of, no more things to organise for my Women’s Weekend, no birthdays to attend… In short, no more obligations.
First my body relaxed. Then my mind wound down.
I realise now how much I was racing through the days, and I appreciate the silence in my home and inside myself. The third week I spent doing odd jobs – house decoration, clearing out closets and sorting out various issues.
It’s nearly my birthday. This past week, I gave the floor a long-overdue mopping and waxing, and rearranged the apartment while I was at it.
Everything seems to be falling into place. I’m fortunate that nobody around me has fallen ill. My family has been spared as well. It feels like the time is ripe for a new age to dawn, and how I – how we – will shape that age is entirely up to us.
One thing I have definitely learned is how important it is to do things from a place of peace and to above all else be there for each other. I hope that this experience will bring us new insights and bring us closer together.
by Veronique Schol
What’s going on behind the silent facades of the Jordaan district during lockdown? Verhalenfestival Jordaan – the Jordaan Story Festival – asked residents to submit their stories. What’s going on in their heads and in their lives?
Eight of the stories were read and recorded by local actors and used to create the audio walk Niets te zien (Nothing to See).