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. 

I’m not sure whether it’s funny or tragic that a trip to the supermarket has become the highlight of my day. It starts as soon as I leave the front door: the blue spring sky, the blossom in the trees, the chirruping of birds in the branches, a daily dose of sun. It’s all still there. Unfortunately, it’s only a short walk to my supermarket. If only I’d moved to the country and had to walk miles to the nearest shop. Then a daily walk without seeing anyone would be the norm. But I live in the middle of town. My street has narrow pavements. I sometimes see someone walking towards me in the distance and start wondering which one of us will step aside when our paths cross. We nod to each other, a faint smile appears; it’s a quarantine smile. A smile that says we understand each other, that we know exactly how the other one is feeling, because we are feeling it too. We can read each other’s minds; we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. We want to embrace everyone, and in our imagination, we do. In fact, we have never felt so close to other human beings. And then we return from the supermarket. We enter our own separate homes, the forts that will protect us from minute, invisible entities. We ritually wash our hands and resume our position by the window. We look at blossom on the trees under an innocently calm sky. Summer is on its way. It’s all still there.

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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