The nCoV gang
A gang of novel coronaviruses (nCoV) was spotted loitering against the artery walls of a human who had fallen ill because of their sudden arrival. Other viruses were rushing by, but the gang decided to rest awhile and chew the fat.
“Okay, gang,” said nCoV #1, “wazzup? How is our human doing?” “Well, last I heard,” said nCoV #2, “he has taken to bed because he hadn’t been feeling well.” “No fever yet?” asked an astonished nCoV #3. “Nope,” said nCoV #2, “but as you can see,” pointing to other viruses rushing by, “our ranks are growing every hour, every minute. Just wait a bit and our human will soon be coughing and wheezing.”
“Well,” said nCov #1, “I sure hope we can reach his throat and upper lungs soon, I hear it’s very warm and moist there.” At this, the other gang members guffawed, clearly looking forward to warmer climes.
“I can’t wait!” said impatient nCoV #3, “We’ve already invaded nearly 4,000 human bodies in China and now nearly 400 have died. What’s taking us so long?” “Don’t be a fool,” muttered nCoV #4, who had been slumped against the artery wall. “If our human dies, we’ll all die with him.” “Riiigght,” drawled nCoV #5, “if our human dies too soon, we won’t be able to infect other humans, we’ll just disappear. But if our human gets up, walks around and maybe goes sightseeing, imagine how many other humans we can invade?”
“And if we’re really lucky,” said nCoV #2, “our human might even be able to hop on a plane and visit other countries and we’d find ourselves other hosts.” “Especially if,” interjected nCoV #1, “other people in these countries, especially government officials, are still in a state of denial and allow anybody to come and go as they please!”
The gang smiled collectively at the prospect of freely floating on droplets and conquering new uncharted territory.
“Okay, I’m eating my words,” muttered nCoV #3. “I hope our human lives longer and feels better that he ends up finding new bodies for us.” “But these humans are really funny,” said nCoV #2, “I hear they’re lining up and demanding to buy masks to protect themselves. But when they reach home, they won’t even bother to wash their hands!”
“And they’re so unsanitary!” shrieked nCoV #4. “A few days from now, they’re celebrating something called Valentine’s Day and what I hear is that there will be so much hugging and kissing on that day as if we aren’t around.” “And they won’t be exchanging just saliva and snot,” snorted nCov #3, “they’ll be trading other body fluids as well…”
“Well,” said nCoV #1, “at least they’ll be making more humans for us to invade!”
At which point the gang had to press themselves against the artery wall as a mob of nCoVs rushed past. “Uh-oh, we better join ’em,” said nCoV #4, “I think our human is sneezing!”
* * *
I was covering one of the massive protests that marked the “Parliament of the Streets” after the Ninoy assassination when we reporters heard news that a rallyist had been shot by police. A massive crowd had massed in front of the “Welcome Rotunda” in a rally immortalized by that photo of protest leaders (most memorably the late senator Lorenzo Tañada, even then a white-haired senior) being bombarded by water cannons while canisters of tear gas lay at their feet.
Word quickly spread that the victim was a UP student, Fidel Nemenzo, the son of former UP president Dodong and Princess. Since Princess is a sister in the women’s movement, the news immediately became personal. Later, we heard that Fidel had to stagger away from the rally while being chased by police until he was taken in by a family living in the area. He survived.
How apt, then, that Fidel, the victim of police brutality, has ended up as the new chancellor of UP Diliman, with the great majority of UP students, faculty, and alumni backing him. In his body, it seems to me, he carries the scars of those tumultuous years, and those scars will not allow him to lapse into forgetfulness, or accept being co-opted into the “system.” Many hold high hopes for him.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.