The Quarantine Chronicles 28 😷 Rana Haddad

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Syrian novelist Rana Haddad, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


I’m thinking a lot about whether Covid 19 is a curse or a gift. Perhaps it carries the possibility of both depending on how we choose to look at it, like one of these strange Freudian drawings.

I’m also thinking a lot about the idea of ‘Post-Truth’ – In a time of chronic post-truth how can we trust what the media and politicians and even international organisations are telling us about the virus? Are they weaponising it for their own ends? Do they have our best interests at heart? They never did before, so why would they now?

Post truth in the time of the Quarantine

while the media is no more than a machine

nothing is what it seems and what do their words mean

in the time when truth and lies, wear each other’s eyes?

Who lives and who dies?

Please switch off your television;

And try to open your own eyes.




I want this time of forced solitude and inaction to help me and others to dive deeper within and focus on what’s essential. The virus could be a lesson and a gift and I want to focus on that.


I see human beings as part of nature – and the political and economic system as some sort of machine. We are being forced to adapt to the machine, more and more, rather than making the machine adapt to us – What can we do so we as human beings win against the machine? In order to win we must fight from within!

Time to heighten our inner resources to the maximum and grow in ways that no machine can harness for its own ends —nor the few mechanical people who operate that machine.




It scares me that those who weaponise disaster for their own ends will be able to do as they please while the entire planet is in survival mode and hiding indoors and slowly being impoverished and made dependent. I’m still not convinced that destroying people’s livelihoods is a solution to the virus threat. There must be other ways – it concerns me that no one’s allowed to discuss other options. There is a general atmosphere of emotional manipulation in the air….If you think that this is the fall of capitalism think again, it may be the destruction of small independent businesses and the time for Corporations to take over. This scares me. The most beautiful thing in any city and village are its small family run businesses and individual ventures and start-ups not the chains, which are literally a ‘chain’ around our necks and which are re-creating a modern version of feudalism. I’m no advocate of any mass-system whether it’s capitalism or communism and a massive disaster like the Corona if it is (marketed as such) can take us into a new chapter of History. I hope we will insist on writing that chapter ourselves, and not allow nameless people behind closed doors to write the book of our future to their own liking, rather than ours.



I am in lockdown in Athens, I’m trying to use the time to settle more deeply into writing my second novel, however I am very distracted by trying to understand what’s happening outside in the world. I’m also reading more books and planting flowers on my balcony and cleaning and cooking more often, and wondering whether it is time to get a cat. I am jealous of anyone who lives with a cat during this time of Corona, or who lives near a forest, a mountain or the sea. Here in Athens people have been banned from walking in parks or nature. I find that difficult to understand, why? If I get caught by the seaside, the policeman will fine me €150. Maybe I should apply for a job as a policewoman and like this I can patrol the forests, hills, sea-sides and mountains looking for any law-less intruders!