It seems to me that -as of late- solemnity has settled over my city. She has fought many battles in her time against enduring enemies. Ignorance, corruption, violence, greed. Human weakness laps constant and hungry at her feet. The defiant glory of old buildings continues to battle, alone, against time and pollution (both physical and ideological). She is proud, stalwart, fascinating, this metropolis, but she has grown weary.
People, too rushed or self-absorbed or simply too stupid to care enough, continue to toss their candy wrappers and larger pieces of private garbage over their shoulders, as if a magic hand will immediately materialize and whisk away their excesses. Larger and noisier public buses roar down deserted streets, racing against an imaginary foe (themselves). Their putrid exhaust continues to settle into yet another layer of grime behind them.
More sidewalk tiles break then splinter then virtually disappear. Cracks turn into holes turn into man-eating craters. Another old woman falls in, dies and then makes the headline news. We all complain. The next day her story is buried beneath a traffic incident. Two public buses crash. One ends up inside somebody’s house and the other breaks into two pieces against a red stop light. The passerby says, “This always happens. Someone will be killed.” The day after, a long-distance bus tries to beat a train at a crossing. Twenty-six people die.
This is nothing new. It has been the same way for decades. We keep complaining. Frustration mounts, explodes, recedes, then mounts again as nothing is mended, nothing is fixed and everything continues the way it used to be.
Perhaps it is this insane year, which began with the placid escape of summertime and then exploded into a huge social, economic and political downturn. Protests broke out in plazas and avenues, and blockades barred all entrances (and exits) to the city. We toil on through thick and thin as a minacious inflationary spiral eats away at any sense of productivity. The government: immobile yet incendiary. The president: caught in a time warp, reliving toxic animosities that were (thought to have been) laid to rest decades ago as we watch, expectant, for some sort of solution.
While we suffer, an enormous cloud of smoke invades the streets for days and then layers of ash from a volcano eruption on the other side of the Andes barricades (heaven) the higher atmosphere.
I walk to the park with my dog to escape the craziness only to balk at a century-old monument defaced by graffiti and plastered with government publicity. No one seems to notice this grievous attack on art and history but me. Has society been dragged into the warp?
My city is tired and so am I. It is inhumanely early on a Sunday morning. I look out my window and see that, even though there’s cement and concrete everywhere, the pigeons fly from roof to roof as if they lived in the midst of verdure.