Between emails and poetry

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Por: Helena B. Souza e Fernando Augusto Badauy Szervinski


Between emails and poetry

One, two; ten, twenty; hundred thousand. How many messages do you usually receive in just one hour on your WhatsApp? Whether in the work group, in the family, or even in a more exciting conversation with friends, the notification system on your mobile phone certainly works tirelessly. And, in this time of social isolation, with the longing for human contact and the eagerness to talk about what is happening, it becomes even more difficult to manage and talk to everyone. It is “hi, how are you?” Over here, and over there the conversation is about the virus. The messages just keep coming. It is not uncommon for someone to stop responding purely because the conversation window is left unattended.

Reflecting on this, I made a decision: at least for that period when I would stay at home, with less responsibility, I would “detox” from the cell phone vibrations. However, I concluded that just disabling notifications would not be enough. I wanted to take a more drastic measure. So, after a notification on my social network and a more direct conversation with my immediate family and friends, I deleted WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook from my life indefinitely. From that moment on, I would use only the old-fashioned e-mail platform.

I am 20 years old and have never sent or received a letter from anyone. When I was a child, I sent an email or so to friends and family, but, since I was young, the content was simple and childlike. So, although it seemed comical to older generations, my lack of knowledge about this type of communication was immense. Accustomed to a short, instantaneous responses and sharing what I was doing in real time and often time with nothing to say, the experience of turning on the computer, sitting down and writing a short text started out as complicated. But slowly, along with some friends, who also decided to join this wave, I started to get the hang of it. I never thought that a day would come when I would enjoy communicating by letter so much, even if electronically, but that is how it is.

For this reason, it was necessary to adopt a different approach. I learned that you need to set aside time – sometimes until 1 am to gather all the required information, to organize, to connect and to type. And believe it or not, it is more difficult than it appears. Sometimes I mentioned actual facts – my lunch, the book that I had started, or even the weather. At other times it opened me up to the possibility of more abstract subjects – a thought while showering or a memory triggered through music. I increasingly realize how it is possible to talk about different things and even poetize. This is it. I feel like a real poet when I adapt the way I communicate during the quarantine. Like an artist, I started not only to see trivial facts with different eyes, but also to develop ways to pass on my new vision to others. I realized that since I entered college, I did not write more than summaries. I had not created anything. Nothing had left me. I was happy to change that scenario.

Just yesterday my boyfriend sent me an e-mail explaining that when reading a certain book by Machado de Assis, he imagined himself next to the writer, observing words come to life on paper. And that is exactly what occurs with me when I am reading emails. I imagine myself beside the sender, hearing the written words from his mouth. I do not know, but I think I managed to get used to this fantasy well. Initially, I imagined that taking a break from social media would get me away from people, but I see how, in fact, I got even closer to who I really care about. And those who have dared to spend this period in a similar way that will not let me bluff alone. As to when this period of uncertainty will end, no one really knows. But it has been wonderful to dare a little and place myself in this unfamiliar experience.

What about you? What have you done during the quarantine that is different from your routine?


Helena B. Souza – she has lived in so many places in the past 20 years that she sometimes questions where she is originally from, or where she belongs. However, she currently resides in Belo Horizonte, the capital city of Minas Gerais. She is in her second year of Medicine there. This is where she met her boyfriend, Fernando. She considers herself a shy person. Being studious, she loves dancing and being outdoors, but never refuses snuggling up on a couch to watch a movie.

Fernando Augusto Badauy Szervinski – Born in the capital of Goiás, Goiânia, he currently lives in Belo Horizonte, where he also studies medicine. After only living 1 year in the city of Sao Paulo, he believes he left his heart there. He has a Black belt in karate, enjoys running, swimming, and playing video games. As an outgoing and highly sociable person, he met Helena at the university and the 2 have been dating for the past 9 months.