The Utrecht-based writer Anne Eekhout is writing special mini-columns about life in times of coronavirus for Thuisagenda Utrecht. We’ve translated them in English for the Home Agenda of MAG Utrecht. 

A few weeks ago, I was walking past a wall at the top of Adelaarstraat, which used to hold just a single uplifting message from Johan Cruijff. But now the wall told me: ‘You can’t do it alone, you must do it together’, and that ‘Everything will be all right in the end’. Someone had also painted a smiling cloud with a rainbow growing out of its head. A few days later, I saw a photo of some bunting hanging high above the Vismarkt, stating ‘We’ll hug again afterwards’. There aren’t that many people I would usually hug anyway, and they certainly aren’t the type of people who would hang up bunting to tell me, I thought, but it was still quite touching. I particularly liked the ‘afterwards’ bit. There will be an ‘afterwards’.

And recently, I’ve noticed posters in windows showing a Dick Bruna character with a section of the Dom Tower on its head, asking the people of Utrecht to take care of each other. All these perky messages are saying: I know things are tough, that you can’t just do whatever you feel like, but stick with it. Everything will be all right as long we stick to not hugging each other. Ironically enough, this is so adorable that it makes me want to hug all those philanthropic Utrechters. But I shall restrain myself. Until afterwards. And once we’re allowed to get up close again, I will spend my days waiting on the Vismarkt with open arms until I’ve hugged every single person who walks into them. It’s ‘afterwards’ at last, we’ll tell each other. We did it together.

Anne Eekhout lives in Utrecht and published her first book Dogma in 2014. It was nominated for the Bronzen Uil, an award presented to the best Dutch debut novel, and appeared on the longlist for the AKO Literature Prize. Her second novel entitled Op een nacht (2016), earned her a nomination for the BNG Bank literature prize. Her third book was published last year: Nicolas en de verdwijning van de wereld.

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