Rui zink Portuguese writer Rui Zink was born on June 16, 1961. "Writes books, gives lectures, imagines things." - Rui Zink in his own description. He continues to write one story after another, novels, plays, graphic novel and much more. His language has become beyond its own boundaries. The structure of his written text also goes beyond conventional grammar. A different world came to life in subjective language. 'Torkito Tarjoni' has been published on the occasion of his upcoming 60th birthday on June 16.Presently a lecturer by profession. His first novel was ‘Hotel Lusitano’(1986). Zink is the author of ‘A Arte Superma’(2007), the first Portuguese Graphic Novel. Also his ‘Os Surfistas’ was the first interactive e-novel of Portugal. He is the author of more than 45 published books all over. Zink achieved prestigious ‘Pen Club’ award on 2005 for his novel ‘Dádiva Divina’. His several books has been translated in Bengali like ‘O Livro Sargrado da Factologia’(‘ঘটনাতত্ত্বের পবিত্র গ্রন্থ, 2017), ‘A Instalação do Medo’(‘ভয়’, 2012), ‘O Destino Turístico’(‘বেড়াতে যাওয়ার ঠিকানা', 2008), 'Oso'('নয়ন') etc.
Author : Rui Zink Translation from portuguese: Rita Ray
A VIRUS IS PASSING THROUGH THE AIR. It is all-pervasive, colourless, painless – or so it remains to be seen. The infection always begins in the simplest way. Someone was bitten by a small monkey during a vacation in Thailand, pricked by a mosquito in São Tomé, by a plant while on a tour in Bolivia. The symptoms didn’t show when the carrier checked in, didn’t cause any alarm in the metal detector. Only on the plane did the carrier began to cough. Nobody pays any attention. Since the time smoking was prohibited on planes the air is circulated less often to save a few pennies. The result is that the possibilities of an infection have increased. (Or perhaps this is only a myth spread by smokers.) Earlier the carrier was a single person – a woman infected by a plant, a child bitten by a monkey, a man pricked by a mosquito. Now, during the ten hours of flight time, that number will multiply. When the plane lands, there are almost 200 carriers, involuntary traffickers of a killer infestation. The border control also fails to identify the signs – the inspectors are experts at checking baggage and passports and guilty sweat, not at spotting dilated pupils. In any case, nobody has dilated pupils or cold sweat on arrival, except the first carrier. But even he passes the border unobstructed. And even if he didn’t: the virus has already spread. In a few hours the epidemic will multiply. The speed of the epidemic is directly proportional to its invisibility. 36 hours later some doctor will wonder at the increase in the number of emergency patients. It will be a few hours more till someone detects a pattern: vomiting, cold sweat, internal haemorrhage.
The bodies explode from inside out. A woman smiles, tells her husband that it’s nothing, she’s only a bit tired, it must be jetlag, and falls down on the kitchen floor, gasping, as if she were in the grip of an epileptic attack. The husband grabs the mobile and calls an ambulance, which takes the woman away half an hour later; and the husband doesn’t know that he himself is a carrier, that within a few hours he too will have the same symptoms as his spouse, will die from internal haemorrhaging, in atrocious pain, his vital organs liquefied.
A child playing at school. Generally he’s the most restless boy, but today he is particularly quiet. The teacher sighs with relief. She does not know that the youngster carries living death within himself and that soon the whole class will be in the hospital. She is writing on the board when a girl screams. The teacher turns around, angry: why is it that whenever she’s writing on the board they take advantage of it to misbehave? It’s a rhetorical question, she knows they do it because she’s not looking. She stops being angry when the children point, petrified, at their classmate on the floor in convulsions.
A virus is the worst enemy one could wish for. It attacks us from within. As such it’s very similar to cancer, only faster, more lethal, and doesn’t leave us the hope of chemotherapy. Too late. It’s always identified too late. It’s infectious. Highly contagious. It scares the doctors. Unlike cancer. Cancer is not contagious. A virus is an atomic bomb, even if the doctor is protected by a diving suit.
In only seven days the entire country is on the highest alert. But the quarantine began too late. Nobody knows who is contaminated – except when there’s very little to be done.
The government sends the army to block the routes out of the capital. But many soldiers desert. The central command itself, always the image of serenity while ordering fodder to the cannon’s mouth, is in panic. How do you fight an invisible enemy? An invisible enemy whose body is our own? The army erects campaign tents to accommodate the injured. Soon the first doctors are infected – and die as well. A general turns out to be a coward. Another one, apprehending that the same truth will be revealed about him, puts a bullet through his own head. And the panic continues. Soldiers shoot civilians. Orders are given to bomb the bridges. But not a single plane takes off.
The countryside, far from the cities, is the only relatively safe place. The isolation and solitude that so many villages complain of is now a blessing. The peasants form brigades to open fire on the urbanites and chase them away. An epidemic is not the best place to hope for neighbourly treatment from anyone. It’s not like saving a shipwrecked person or helping a wounded person. It’s horror. It’s a world of zombies. Helping is equivalent to dying. In order to survive in a hostile world we have to turn hostile ourselves. It’s the only way. It’s sad but it’s the only way.
Some people resist the virus. But the virus is aware of this as well. Technically it’s non-sentient, merely a nano-microbe. But, in its own way, it’s also hyper-intelligent. The virus seems to have been conceived as a biological weapon. Its objectives and methods are precise and economical: it finds a host, consumes him, and then finds another host, and another, and another.
In the UN, what was unthinkable a few days ago is now being considered: dropping a handful of atomic bombs on a friendly country. Perhaps a few million human beings will die. But one has to think of the greater good.
In the UN, the horror becomes purely logical, a matter of simple reasoning: at times it is necessary to kill some people (a few million people, not too many) to save humanity.
“Surely economic horror won’t be the same as a pandemic. But it’s more efficient. It doesn’t kill outright but grinds down.”
“Agreed. It goes on grinding.”
“It goes on grinding.”
“It’s a pain in the neck.”
For the woman this may be a reprieve. They are addressing her but in fact not talking to her. They are enchanted by their own game. A snake finding a mirror and intoxicated for the first time understands the fascination that the little bird feels while staring at the snake.
“A dull pain that stays, doesn’t go away, stays there.”
“A sort of Chinese torture.”
“The Chinese, now there you have a superior fear.”
“The famous drop on the head.”
“The drop that keeps falling.”
“At first it doesn’t hurt.”
“It’s hardly felt.”
“Little by little–”
“It becomes torture.”
“That’s why it’s called torture.”
“Chinese water torture.”
“Made in China.”
“But not necessarily conceived–”
“It becomes unbearable.”
“It doesn’t stop.”
“A person isn’t able to think.”
“At a given moment we’re not able to think.”
“We only think of the drip.”
“Of the drop.”
“Drop by drop.”
“Goes on dropping.”
“Drop by drop.”
“Drip by drip.”
“Goes on falling.”
“And we can’t think of anything else.”
“Only of the drip.”
“Of the drop.”
“It maddens us.”
“Leading to madness.”
“Drop by drop.”
“Drip by drip.”
“It goes on and on.”
“The supreme art.”
“The perfect technique.”
“The absolute fear.”
“The fear within.”
“Real class. You’ll see.”
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