Culture

Texts by Renowned Swiss Authors: Taking Stock for the Future by Noëlle Revaz We invite you to read their works, enjoy their contribution online and learn more about those inspiring personalities from Switzerland. In collaboration with Pro Helvetia, the Swiss arts council.

October 25, 2021 / Noëlle Revaz

© Anja Fonseka

In the car, on my way to pick up my son from school. I turn on the radio. Words caught at random – “Someday the time will come to ask ourselves what this virus changed about our lives.”

            What it changed? So many things! It brought us together under its flag, its blue (or white) masks. It gave us a universal topic of conversation. In just a few weeks – a few days – it made us all equals. It forced us to choose what we wanted to believe in. It forced us to stay home. It taught us that we can keep it together so long as our kids are still at school. It made us think about our interior design. It changed how we see our country. It made us take a good look at ourselves. It made us consider whether we had anything left to say to our partners. It made us love each other. It made us divorce. It made us acknowledge that we have too many children, or not enough. It made us get that we live in a totalitarian state. It showed us that our leaders are as ignorant as we are. It made us realize our government isn’t independent. It taught us that the truth doesn’t exist. It made us doubt reality. It taught us that medicine is hit and miss. It made us scour our hands with soaps and detergents. It taught us that we’re all terrible at statistics. It taught us that numbers tell us nothing… or the opposite of nothing. It made us hate science. It made us glorify it. It taught us who we can get by without and who we need. It taught us what our parents mean to us. It taught us to think about older people. It showed us whether we’re brave. Whether we have a conscience. Whether we could cope. Whether we had it in us to believe in the future and keep on making plans. Whether depression was brewing. Whether we couldn’t give a damn. Whether we’re selfish. Whether we’re critical. Whether we’re hiding paranoid tendencies. It taught us that it’s very easy to speak the same language and that we can all talk about the same thing at the same time. It showed us we can live on nothing so long as we have a family. It showed us how important alcohol and potato chips are to our wellbeing. It showed us how little nature cares, and nature showed us a spectacular spring. It taught us that living together is driving us nuts. It showed us that we love each other. It put all our little habits to the test. It made us take up the piano again. It made us laugh out loud at videos. It made us so idiotic that we clinked glasses with a screen. It made us come up with plans to change things. It projected us into dreams of what we would do in the future, what we would change, the places we would visit, and the person we would become once it was over. It made us panic. It made us rethink our spending habits. It bankrupted us. It made us fill pages and pages of administrative forms. It made us insult office clerks. It made us think about suicide. It turned us into rebels. It made us go to demonstrations. It turned us into news junkies. It made us so blind that we listened to everything we were told. It showed us that we can be led by the nose. It turned us into guinea pigs. It made us wary. It made us take detours to avoid meeting other people. It stopped us eating out. It stopped us celebrating our birthdays. It gave us holidays in the mountains. It gave us some good time. It reminded us that we’re mortal. It spared us from bad breath. It showed us we can live and laugh even knowing there’s no solution.

            “So, all in all,” I tell my son who’s just climbed into the back of the car, “the virus did terrible things, but it also has some interesting sides to it.”

            “My teacher’s ill,” my son replies. “The whole class needs to quarantine.”

            “And their parents?” I ask, eagerly hopeful.

            “No, they said our parents could go to work.”

            Damn it, the virus just denied me ten days’ state-paid holiday.

Translated to English by Adriana Hunter
Read the original text in french >

Noëlle Revaz was born in 1968 and lives in Biel/Bienne. She won several prizes for her novels Rapport aux bêtes and Efina (published by Gallimard). In 2015, she was awarded the Swiss Literature Prize for L’Infini Livre (published by éditions Zoé). Noëlle Revaz has written many monologues and short stories, and also writes for radio and theater. She works as a creative writing mentor at the Bern University of the Arts.

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