Are you feeling a bit of a lockdown yet? The question popped out of my phone with the force of an explosion. I was taken aback by it. “Well?” it sounded.
“A little…” I hesitated.
“A little! haha! That seems typical Dutch to me. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. And then we’ll see tomorrow. haha!”
I’d had The Virus on the phone in a state of great euphoria before, but he seemed out of his mind now. Was there any point in continuing this conversation? Also, was it wise to give your enemy another stage where he could spread his evil theories? Yet I persevered, partly because interviews with Het Virus have been popping up elsewhere lately. Those are, I cannot warn enough, fake interviews from bad impersonators.
“Typical Dutch”, Het Virus raged further, “I also liked your last column about varicose veins. The whole of the Netherlands is near a nervous breakdown, thanks to me, yes ME, and what are you doing? Write a piece about your varicose veins! Are you feeling a bit better now, Mr. Abrahams?”
“A bee…” I wanted to say, but he had already interrupted me with the whip of his jeering laugh.
“When will you finally get a bit stronger in the Netherlands? How many times have we not spoken to each other?”
Yes, and I have always warned you: do not underestimate me, I am far from being defeated, every time you claim victory I come back with a new, virtuoso variant. And that while there is much more at stake for you than for me. For me it’s just a pastime, I find it exciting to pit people against each other, something that always succeeds because people are mainly after their own interests. But for you it is not a game, for you it is war, a war in which millions can be killed.”
“Which you then have on your conscience.”
He laughed scornfully. “I have no conscience. How many times have I told you that? You have a conscience, don’t you? Well, you knew that! Should I teach a lesson in world history?”
“Never mind,” I shivered. “What else are you planning?”
This practical question calmed him down. He even took the time to think. “It all depends on you. It’s your turn. In fact, for the past two years, you have done nothing but hesitate. Light measures, relaxation, heavier measures, a little lockdown, then relax again and even dance with Janssen, abolish one and a half meters away and retrieve it again, now worrying about a little more, or less, lockdown. In the meantime, disagreements are growing among the experts. Whether or not schools close, whether or not unvaccinated take a stricter approach. The hospitals are overflowing with mainly the unvaccinated, but you keep hesitating about a little more or a little less vaccination compulsion. If it is just a little, then everyone is satisfied, or at least it seems that way, because in the Netherlands no one is satisfied at all at the moment.”
“The government has to make the decision now,” I said shyly.
“But he’s in trouble himself.” He sighed with satisfaction. “I go back to work. Are you careful with your varicose veins?”
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of November 26, 2021