By Necip YILDIRIM
“No more anarchy!” cried Vadim. The crowd around him repeated:
No more anarchy!
No more anarchy!
No more anarchy!
The chanting was expanding like waves on the surface of a pond. From the Independent Square to Khreschatyk Street and to all other streets.
Vadim and the crowd around him were dancing right in front of the police barricade. It was a dark and cold January evening. The distance between the barricade and the crowd was around fifteen meters.
Vadim looked around. Fixed his eyes on the white scarf of a young lady. Approached her and gently asked her to lend him her scarf. He took the scarf and tied it to the tip of a stick. Waving his white flag; started to walk towards the police barricade with small, slow and confident steps. Some others wanted to follow him. He told them to stay and just go on playing the music.
His both arms were up. The flag was in his right hand. He was looking to the ground, intentionally avoiding eye contact with the police. When he came close enough, he handed the flag to a policeman. Extended his hands. Vadim had behaved in such a polite, respectful and innocent manner that the policemen almost did not have any other chance but to hold Vadim’s hands.
When policemen held his hands; Vadim said in a mild voice: “Davayte potansuyemo”, let’s dance! Hands, arms, and the whole bodies of the policemen started to move gradually. The crowd now was clapping and singing. Vadim, the policemen, the music and the crowd were now following the same rhythm.
Several girls from the crowd walked towards the barricade. They offered their hands to some other policemen. In less than five minutes, all policemen were dancing.
The barricade was gone. A new barricade was formed, forged by the souls of the crowds and the policemen.
11 Months Earlier…
“We will make them virtual zombies,” said the man in black, with a confident voice. He was standing by the window and looking at the skyscrapers. His hands were in his pockets. The meeting room was on the 43rd floor. Everyone sitting around the meeting table was looking at him.
While the man in black was walking back to his chair; “Ensuring less real-life interaction, will certainly secure more clicks,” said the lady in black.
27 people around the meeting table were now talking randomly:
— You guys will eventually dominate the vaccine market. Yet better not rush. We should make sure they stay home enough for developing new habits and getting used to the new lifestyle.
— The life will turn to normal, but certainly not to the old one.
— In the first six months, we expect an increase of above three hundred percent in online retail revenue.
— Film industry will have to go online as well.
— No one will have to go to a certain place for watching any work of art. In the long run a different understanding of opera, theatre, cinematography, music… will emerge.
— What if we make sure football stadiums all around the world are closed entirely. Big gatherings pose a big risk to the global order that we are planning to establish.
— Key individuals in media, politics, the medical sector and all other important spheres are under our control. We are working on some countries, thanks to everyone’s generous contributions. Small cultural obstacles persist. I am sure, however, that we will overcome all barriers.
— Culture is our sole enemy. I cannot imagine cultured zombies. Oh! Zombies maybe… but virtual zombies; impossible.
— Languages must be even more simplified; vocabularies have to be shrunk. People think with words. Take away the words and you extinguish thinking.
— Our psychology experts are working on all of it. We will use every pixel of smart screens. The work we are doing is marvellous. The most sophisticated algorithm ever developed by human and artificial intelligence. Addiction and obedience are guaranteed for the coming generations.
— Our plans regarding Crypto-currency is on track.
— If any government does not concede, we have the power to topple them down. Almost globally.
Back to Vadim
Vadim had worked for twelve hours. Walking between the kitchen and tables, getting orders, taking a break every now and then, making sure clients felt unique… all ordinary waiters’ work.
They left the restaurant with his two colleagues at 22:00. When they were on the red line metro heading to Lisova Station, one of his colleagues showed him a news: A new virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan…
He did not even care. Vadim had many other issues to think about. He had a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, but his biggest dream was to become a professional climber. He was planning to combine climbing with documentary film production. Besides sports and work, he was doing his best to attend as many courses related to video production as possible. He had already travelled to many countries and had prepared some amateur short documentaries.
“A new virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan…” Around three months had passed since Vadim had read this headline. A total lockdown had started in Kiev. Life had stopped. Vadim was at home. In the beginnings the quarantine was kind of fun, a new experience for all. Seemed more like a joke. As if it was not real.
The news about stocking food and beverage was circulating on TV channels and social media. Vadim was shocked when he saw people pilling mountains of products like sunflower oil, pasta, rice, potatoes and bottles of alcohol on trollies.
His babushka, Ivanna Volodymyrovich Aleksandrovna, who was living in a village outside the city of Vinnytsia, was telling him on the phone how she had been reserving jars of conserved food, lest an apocalyptic situation would befall upon humanity. Whenever Vadim would hear, watch or read any news about people going insane, collapse of the civilization as we know it, apocalypse, end of the world, or something the like; scenes from apocalyptic movies would flash in his mind.
Sometimes he would imagine himself as Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) in the 2002 made movie The Pianist; hiding in ruined buildings, seeking shelter, searching food, running from Nazis…
He could not stop asking himself: What if… “What if supply chain routes are broken, supermarkets looted, theysystem collapsed and people faced famine,” he would think. He even considered buying some long-lasting food products. But when his friend told him, “Don’t worry Vadimchik! Even if nothing is found, Dnieper will feed us. We will go fishing, cook whatever we catch, find some vodka and everything will be cool. I know you have a fishing rod. Keep it ready my friend”.
People were sharing on social media their experiences of the quarantine. Some were proudly expressing how they were defiant against all the rubbish rules. Others were extra-cautious, to the limits of paranoia; almost taking shower with antiseptics.
Vadim was spending all of his days on his smartphone: Jokes, memes, caricatures, funny videos, conspiracy theories, protests, musicians playing on their balconies, valorous doctors… In the evenings, he would meet his friends. His friends would come to him, or he would go to a friend. They would smoke hookah, drink, dance and come home drunk.
Days and weeks passed. Like many other businesses, the restaurant that Vadim was working, bankrupted. He started to search for a new job. He found two part-time jobs. The income, however, was not covering his expenses. Vadim had spent all his savings. He even had to borrow money from his friends to pay the rent. He eventually had to leave Kiev and move to his babushka.
In the coming months, the lockdown was tightened and loosened several times.
Vadim occasionally came to Kiev for interviews. Stayed for a couple of days with his friends. At last, he found a temporary job. He could not rent a flat on his own. So, he rented a room.
Every night, when he would lay on his bed, he would stare at the ceiling and calculate in his head, how long it would take him to save the necessary money for actualizing his dream of combining climbing with documentary film production.
It was before the new year. The country went to another lockdown.
Vadim was at home again. But he was not eager to meet his friends as in the early stages of the quarantine. He didn’t see any meaning in coming together in a flat, smoke hookah, talk about everything but nothing, get drunk, order a taxi, wake up with a hangover. And repeat the same routine, over and over every day. He had neither appetite nor finances for such a rhythm.
Vadim was spending time with his best friend: His smartphone. Listening, watching, reading, liking, sharing, following, unfollowing, mentioning, commenting, blocking, unblocking, swiping, learning, socializing, smiling, crying, hating, loving… His smartphone had become his family and life: An integral part of his body and mind.
Mask, antiseptic, Covid-19, coronavirus, vaccine, lockdown, social distancing, isolation, pandemic, epidemic, quarantine… Vadim was irritated. Every time he heard any word related to coronavirus; anxiety, revulsion, grudge, anger, rage, wrath… would occupy him.
“What a virus!” said one of his friends, “My uncle and his wife are living in the same flat. His wife tested positive, my uncle did not. This coronavirus must be choosing between people”. “The company I work for, had us get tested for corona,” said another friend, “I tested positive. But it somehow did not feel ok. Because I did not have any symptoms. I went to another clinic. There, I tested negative. It is a strange situation”. “I am sure I was corona. I had all symptoms once. It was in the beginnings of the pandemic,” said another.
Besides wild comments that he was hearing from his friends, social media was also pouring on him down all sorts of information:
“The former US President had warned against such a pandemic…”; “Biological war…”; “This virus was manufactured in laboratory…”; “The famous businessman had predicted such a global pandemic, would occur…”; “…He said the world might face another pandemic in around three years…”; “… companies in … sector were bankrupted… unemployment…”; “Online giant expects above 300% profit…”; “Anti-quarantine protests are hijacked by the far-right and conservative groups…”; and news, fake news, information, misinformation, disinformation… were all chasing one another.
After days of hopeless melancholy, Vadim had finally come to his senses. Clouds had dispersed. The rocky mountain of his dream was standing right in front of him. Vadim had decisively put in his mind that he would climb it. What about the filming? The director of this documentary would be ordinary people.
Vadim posted this message on social media.
“Dear friends! Tomorrow, I intend to break a world record. I want to hug the maximum number of people ever possible in a single day. I will be standing, near the monument on the Independent Square from 07:00. If anyone wants to give me a hug, please come without a mask or antiseptics.”
After posting this message to all his social media accounts, Vadim did something unexpected of him. He turned his smartphone off. Yes. He had never done that before. He just killed his smartphone. He had burned the ships. By turning his smartphone off, he had taken from himself away the chance of changing his mind and deleting the message.
It was near sundown, not even 16:00. Vadim went to the river beach. Filled his lungs with cold air. The Dnieper was flowing hand by hand with Vadim that day. Naked trees were saluting him. He felt the hunger of the ducks on Dnieper in his stomach. Wanted to tear apart those grey and gloomy clouds. Birds on the sky were calming him down and urging him to be patient.
A mother was walking with her stroller. Vadim looked at the face of the baby lying inside the stroller. “Of course, I will go,” he thought. “Even if no one comes, even if friends will make fun of me, I will stand there till evening! That will be the most difficult mountain I will ever climb. But I will do that. Now matter what!”.
Vadim came to the Independent square at 06:51; winter hat in his head; his mouth and nose covered with his winter scarf. He approached the monument. A crowd of young people was standing. A girl asked her friend next to her: Is it him? Let’s check his profile picture once more. Vadim heard their conversation. His heart started to beat rapidly. He removed his winter scarf from his face. The crowd cheered up. One of them clapped, another jumped from excitement. They all started to hug and take videos of Vadim.
It was unbelievable. At 08:00 it was well understood that with such a pace, it would be impossible for all newcomers to hug and film Vadim. Vadim’s friends and natural leaders from among the crowd were intuitively organized around Vadim. The celebration had begun. People started to stand in lines and hug one another. A friend of Vadim came with his camera mounted on a drone. At 09:00 All roads and streets were filled with people, the traffic was brought to a halt. Police rushed to disperse the crowd, but they were already late.
Anna, the municipality worker in her late forties in her orange waistcoat asked someone in the crowd, “My son! Who are you protesting?”. “Coronavirus!” was the answer. “Damn with coronavirus!” Anna grunted.
Everyone shared the anxiety, revulsion, grudge, anger, rage, wrath… Vadim was suffering. Masks, antiseptics, Covid-19, corona, coronavirus, vaccine, lockdown, social distancing, pandemic, epidemic, quarantine… had irritated them all.
People from all around kiev were joining the crowds to resist “The Invisible Enemy”.
Such a crowd was unprecedented in Ukraine’s history. Even during Maidan events, Kiev had not witnessed such a crowd. Everyone had gone to the streets. Everyone.
At 10:00 Vadim was on international media.
Tokyo, Rio, Nairobi, Berlin, Helsinki, Lisbon, Stockholm, Denver, Palermo… London, New York, Istanbul, Cairo, Moscow, Beijing and the whole world had followed Kiev.
Coronavirus now had become coronavaccine.
Corona had come to take lives, but human beings had swallowed it.
All were infected. Without any exceptions. All. Each and every coronavirus were infected by human beings. Before, it was afraid that corona might get inside human beings. Now human beings had gotten inside coronavirus, occupied it.
The virus was deprived of all its advantages.
The solidarity of human race had beaten the enemy by his own weapon: Online channels of communications had allowed them to reject becoming virtual zombies. They had rejected slavery.
Anarchy was over. The order was restored.