The Lady of Century High Tower rolled her eyes and sighed as she listened to the Truthsayers. Hoards of people were trying to break through the barricade that had sealed the city perimeters.
“Ano ba? Stay at home nga, e,” she screamed.
The King had declared a community quarantine. No one was supposed to leave their homes unless necessary. Why couldn’t they understand?
She had already posted the numbers of the stores operating in the marketplace her family owns on her message board. Her subjects knew they just had to call for delivery.
The Lady of Century High Tower decided to record a message for all her subjects. “Why don’t you motherfuckers just stay at home? Stay. At. Home. Don’t you guys get it? Tigas ng ulo (So stubborn). This is exactly why they need the military because you fuckers won’t stay at home. Guys, c’mon.” (READ: [OPINION] The out-of-touch, elitist gaps in our lockdown)
Her husband, The Lord of Century High Tower, dressed in his pambahay grey shirt and shorts, came out. “This our capitalistic system,” he said, putting his hands in the air before correcting himself. “Capitalism, not capitalistic system.”
The system that allows his family to own sparkly market stalls and villages all over the 7,000 kingdoms.
Many had never heard of the Lady of Century High Tower before but they wasted no time in lambasting her for her ignorance and insensitivity. The wildlings, the free people, the slaves, the unsullied – all of them were relentless.
By then, the veerus had latched on to everyone’s sense of fear and uncertainty. The enemy – the veerus – had been identified but couldn’t be seen. It had been named but it was still changing, playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the Learned Men and Women racing to find a cure. Even people who weren’t coughing or feverish could possibly be infected.
The Lady of Century High Tower did some breathing exercises and meditation before facing her subjects again. She waved off offers from her handmaidens to brush her hair and apply rouge to her lips and cheeks. Her subjects needed to see she was also suffering.
“I’m really really sorry to have to take it out on social media but like, that outburst is a reflection of how I feel about people not listening to the government. At this point in time, like honestly, we need to lock down and contain the virus. I’m not saying and referring to the frontliners out there that need to get to work but what I’m saying is the people who are pasaway (disobedient) and not following,” she said, sitting on the floor in matching grey workout clothes.
Sellers, who once longed for her approval and attention, began issuing statements to distance themselves from her.
It was time for a sincere apology.
“In all humility and sincerity, I would like to apologize for being insensitive…I should have been more considerate of others who are trying to cope with this crisis. My apologies, too, to the names and brands who get affected,” read the Lady’s statement before she cocooned in her castle, doing deep breathing exercises and stretches while her handmaidens made sure she and her family had everything they needed for their plant-based diet.
Meanwhile, a Highborn Lawmaker and his wife were excited. Their first child was due in a few weeks.
He, like everyone else, was terrified. The veerus had spread all over the 7 kingdoms and beyond. The body count was mounting. One by one, the kingdoms were frantically fortifying barricades around their borders and pulling up the drawbridges to seal off castles.
The other Lawmakers had started quarantining themselves when they learned that they had been exposed to someone with the veerus. But the Highborn Lawmaker decided not to.
“I would love to self-quarantine! But there are things that I still need to do. But should that be the proper protocol, no problem with me,” he said.
Two days later, he started experiencing flu-like symptoms and got tested. As a Higborn, he got tested right away.
At the front lines, troops of healers were manning the trenches ’round the clock but with a dwindling number of shields and swords. They were pleading for reinforcements from the people. They were stretched to the limit and exhausted. They were becoming sick. Some had fallen.
Giving birth would be tricky for his wife.
But he could always summon the Maester of Health. There was always a way. As a last resort, he could always call The King.
The King was the toughest of them all. He would look for that fucking veerus and slap it.
He was notified right before his wife was set to give birth.
He was infected with the veerus. Fuck.
The Healers found out and went livid.
They scrambled to decontaminate and trace all those the Highborn Lawmaker had come in contact with. Eight healers had to be quarantined. The troops at the trenches would be down by 8 reinforcements.
Then the Healers sent out a statement for all to read.
The 7 kingdoms were ablaze. Holed up for two weeks now, the People pounded their fists on the doors of their homes, calling for his head. (READ: #KokoResign, #KokoKulong: Netizens rage vs Pimentel for breaking quarantine protocols)
The Highborn Lawmaker desperately tried to defend himself.
I didn’t cough.
I didn’t enter the delivery room.
I didn’t mean to put anyone in harm’s way.
There was no directive to me to self-quarantine.
The Hand of the King would be upset that he had violated quarantine. The Hand of the King, who also served as the Court Jester, had held up a manila paper sign telling everyone to stay home.
The wildlings, the free people, the slaves, the unsullied – everyone – demanded an admission of wrongdoing, an apology – and his resignation.
An apology? How do you do that?
Unfamiliar emotions crept up on him.
He was anxious that his transgression – deemed unforgivable – would make his wife open to scorn.
Made to feel small because of discrimination.
“Understand ko ‘yong natatakot pero ‘wag masyadong mag-discriminate kasi ngayon ko nararamdaman ‘yong discrimination actually.” (I understand those who are afraid but please don’t discriminate too much, because now what I actually feel is discrimination.)
The veerus did not know how to discriminate and exposed him to emotions that his power and privilege as a Highborn Lawmaker had once shielded him from.
The Scholars of the Law were preparing to file a criminal case against him.
He did something that he had never done before. He begged.
Amid all of this, the Man of the Nightwatch stood at the castle perimeter, to begin the slow burn of another 12-hour shift.
He didn’t know the Lady of Century High Tower. He had been stationed at the barracks since the kingdom-wide lockdown. Maybe his wife would know. She cleans castles as big as entire villages. He sent their 3 children a raven every day. They lived far away in the Middle Kingdom and did not know when he would see them again. Even before all this madness, the journey was already too hard and too long.
The man at the village granary knows the risks that his job now poses. The veerus could linger in the carts and wheelbarrows. Villagers who came into the granary and the market could be carriers of the veerus without knowing it.
In another kingdom far away, the veerus had already claimed more than 6,000 lives. One of them was a worker at the granary like him. Beyond his family, who would care if he got infected or if he died?
His family. His elderly parents. He had to support them and at least he still had a job to do so.
The other men in the nightwatch had to be let go when the 7 kingdoms began closing its city gates. There was just no need for that many guards. He walked two hours every day to get to the granary. There was no choice. There weren’t any carriages anymore.
The People are now recognizing the commoners, the workers. The goffers, the handlers of the coin in the markets, and the delivery boys. The people The Lady called “motherfuckers.” In this pandemonium, they are the link to everything that the outside world has – food, drinkable water, salves.
Between the Lady of Century High Tower and the Highborn Lawmaker, the People were all asking, “Who’s the real motherfucker now?” – Rappler.com
Ana P. Santos writes about sexual health rights, sexuality, and gender for Rappler. She is the 2014 Miel Fellow under the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and a 2018 Senior Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity in Southeast Asia. Follow her on Twitter at @iamAnaSantos and on Facebook at @SexandSensibilities.com