Yuri Andrukhovych:
Don’t Gather in Groups of More Than One

A mask won’t help you, but don’t dare leave home without one.

In general, don’t risk going out – whether with a mask or without. Masks are the most effective measure, but they won’t help.

Limit yourself to buying food, medicine, and toilet paper, but don’t complain if the shelves are bare because of this.

Keep a distance of 1,5 meters (for a start). Gradually increase this to three and then five meters, and ideally steer well clear of all living creatures.

Distance yourself from your loved ones. There are no loved ones – just vectors of infection and the walking dead.

Don’t gather in groups of more than one thousand. Don’t gather in groups of more than five hundred. Don’t gather in groups of more than forty. Don’t gather in groups of more than three. Don’t gather!

Wash your hands as often as possible, but there’s no kind of soap that will completely eliminate the virus.

Wash your hands for a minimum of 16 seconds. A minimum of 20 seconds. But 25-30 seconds is better. Wash your hands for as long as possible, but there’s little chance this will save you.

Wash your hands, like the great Pontius Pilate taught us.

Don’t neglect to take warm baths—the steam can help your respiratory system—but remember that a warm bath is the ideal environment for the virus.

People over 65 are an at-risk group, although as of recently people under 65 are too. Everyone is an at-risk group. “At-risk group” is another name for humankind.

Don’t touch anything, especially your own face. Temporarily imagine that you don’t have one.

Temporarily deny yourself everything except the internet, but don’t overindulge in porn sites: they create the dangerous illusion that everything in your life is ok and nothing has changed.

Keep your hands to yourself and wear gloves. Gloves are the most effective measure, but don’t forget to change them as often as possible. Every 16, 20, 25, and 30 seconds.

Pets can’t catch this exact virus, but tomorrow it will turn out that this is the virus they are most likely to catch.

Disinfect all available surfaces with rubbing alcohol, but don’t forget that alcohol kills your immunity.

Forget about shaking hands, hugging, and kissing, but don’t be surprised when there’s no one at your funeral.

Don’t consult a doctor too early: only once you’ve reached average severity.

Don’t consult a doctor too late, although even if you are too late, they’ll still do everything they can to register your death properly.

Don’t consult a doctor at all: they’re an at-risk group.

Quarantine is the most effective measure; it guarantees victory. After it was introduced the number of infections went up by a multiple of four. Of seven. Of ten. The number continues to grow.

Infected people should be isolated or – according to plan B – gathered together in the largest possible numbers at pedestrian border crossing points.

Eighty percent of people (the so-called “silent spreaders”) have already had the virus, without even noticing, but in that case it’s unclear who observed this and why they decided that the number was eighty percent and not, say, seventy-nine.

For the time being, the total number of people who’ve recovered is higher than the number of people who’ve died, but not in our country as yet.

Still, we’re not without good news in our country: the authorities have drummed up the resources to severely punish the “silent spreaders” and shoot panickers on the spot. Health and human life are our authorities’ number one priority.

And if things keep getting worse (and they will), there’s no need to worry – the authorities will definitely strengthen measures. Somehow they’ll strengthen them. They’ll get the national guard involved, with snipers.

The virus will definitely recede after Easter, but no one knows in what year.

The virus will definitely recede in the summer, because it can’t survive when it’s hot, but only when it’s so hot that neither can people.

The virus is the Weltgeist, or more precisely its game of purifying and correcting us. The virus believes that it is possible to purify and correct us. We’re lucky that it still believes this.

The virus is cruel, lethal, ingenious, venomous, faster than us, and fair.

The virus monitors us ceaselessly and mutates according to the steps we take to fight it. It likes that we’re scared, but that’s not enough for it.

It’s engaged in creative exploration. Which you can’t say about us.

Soon it will turn out that it’s spread most efficiently not through handshakes but over the internet, and it will have to be shut down. If they’ve already shut down the borders, the airports, and the metro, why couldn’t they shut down the internet? Can you imagine: life in quarantine, all alone, trapped within your four walls – and no internet? The screenwriter hasn’t resorted to this yet.

The screenwriter is a professional, who writes about Existence itself. According to the laws of the TV series, he constantly ruins viewers’ predictions about what’s going to happen. This is normal. The problem is just that more and more viewers are becoming actors, and mainly in the role of victims.

The virus is a TV series, and there’s no way the dramatic tension will be resolved until the end of the season. But between seasons everyone will be talking about nothing but the virus anyway. In the vain hope that by some miracle there won’t be a second season.

Ukrainian original published on April 3, 2020, on ZBRUC
Translated by Katherine Younger
Photo by Rostyslav Shpuk

Yuri Andrukhovych is a Ukrainian prose writer, poet, essayist, and translator. In March 2021 he will be a Ukraine in European Dialogue Fellow at the IWM.



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