The Year of the Pandemic … Good Riddance
2020-12-28 | منذ 4 شهر
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel

The computer is better than a human being. It can delete a sentence or an article without leaving a trace. It removes it permanently from its memory and files. I wished that man possessed this golden ability to irreversibly erase a dark spot from his life and memories.

There is no harm in wishing this year to end. This year deserves nothing but to be thrown into the graves of oblivion. Sometimes a person has pictures that are not worth publishing. As if he dreams of summoning this month-long crime, and shooting it to satisfy this deep desire to take revenge on a murderer who faced us with countless corpses upon his arrival.

On such days in previous years, we used to blame time for passing so quickly. We tried to catch the fleeing moments with beautiful gatherings… There was time for hugs, laughter, expressions of longings and dinner reunions. The truth is that we did not fully appreciate the blessing of ordinary living. Living without masks, disinfectants, and arrows of doubt in every approaching human being. We did not value the joy of normal living until the fatal visitor drove us to the edge of Hell.

We have never experienced such extreme cruelty before. The British who have seen the horrors of World War II say that those were less brutal than the calamities of this year. They say that patriotic and national feelings and the determination to confront Nazism were providing the residents of the targeted cities with a kind of moral compensation. The raids of the killer planes could have been avoided, either by taking refuge on the ground floors or shelters, or by fleeing to the countryside, as it was difficult for the Führer planes to bring death to such an enormous number of targets.

Moreover, it was in the killer’s interest to waste his bombs only on strategic targets or sensitive sites. There was no point in killing ordinary people, which is a tempting practice for today’s murderer.

The French, who have tasted the humiliation of seeing Hitler walking arrogantly on the Champs-Elysée, say that the bitterness of those days is less than the sorrows of this year which is about to end. There was an overwhelming feeling of anger. The desire of many to resist. Hope that the season of humiliation will end. Death was probable. But man did not stand idle and paralyzed, as he did in the midst of this pandemic.


It is not simple for people to say that while war is global, it remains less brutal than a pandemic. In war, you know the location of your opponent and the excuses that he gave to attack you. You know the source of the danger and the site of the flames. You hide or run away. You get the help of a parent. You find refuge on your loved one’s chest. You wipe your mother’s tears. You walk to your friend’s funeral…

Today’s serial killer did not knock on the door, nor did it ask permission to enter or prepare its crime with an excuse or warning. It spread like air, flowed like rain, and crept into continents, states, cities and villages, with no arsenals or weapons.

We were not living in a rosy world before the outbreak of Covid-19. The Arab journalist is a book of pain during ordinary days, but what becomes of him during times of calamities? The past decade has not been simple, easy, or delightful. I always felt that I was practicing the role of a gravedigger in the press, as on most days I would find a place on the front page for a new massacre or a mass murder. That was the day when injustice and bad interests turned the “Arab Spring” into a terrible trap to drown angry youths in the waves of mud and blood.

We complained that the front pages were loaded with corpses from this capital or that city. We said for a while that the wave of killings diminished after the youths retreated from the squares due to raids and arrests. We thought that we have left the killing zone on a long vacation. The calculations were inaccurate, as we suddenly found ourselves in the custody of Covid-19, and we had to become specialized in its disasters and variants.

I don’t want to write about what the serial killer did to world economies. Losses are unprecedented and still not totally calculated. I will not discuss the impact of coronavirus on the distribution of seats in the club of the powerful, and the position that China will occupy in the coming years. I do not want to speculate about Biden’s ability to benefit from some countries’ thirst for an America that is capable of managing broad alliances to confront the worrying rise of forces that are known for their disrespect of human rights.

I also do not wish to talk about the urgent need for countries to have efficient and fair governments, rational management of resources, and the building of advanced health institutions, as the pandemic has demonstrated.

I am only looking forward to seeing this year depart quickly as a criminal who committed more sins than he could handle. I want the serial killer to stop hunting more lives. I want to salute the real guards, the members of the “white army”, who stood on lines of fire in hospitals and laboratories trying to raise the torch of hope in a world suffocated by the cough of the infected and the silence of the dead.

I want to see the humans achieve victory over the pandemic. 2020 is the year of the pandemic. The year of the serial killer. The year of the Third World War. I do not regret its end. We will celebrate its death after it celebrated ours. We will not forget to thank the writers, journalists, actors and musicians, and everyone who helped us fight the time and the one-year stay in this great prison that we call the world.

We will be happy to throw it away like we do dirty socks. Good riddance.

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