The world ends slowly

Vitor Dornelles
2 min readDec 3, 2023

In 1996, a fortune teller called Mother Dináh predicted the end of the world. Or, at least, that was the rumor that spread through the schools in Rio de Janeiro at the time. Obviously, the end of the world happened to be scheduled right in the middle of my math class, on a relatively sunny day.

I was in my second year of high school and not exactly worried. However, there was a palpable tension in the air. My classmates (and, ok, me too) kept glancing at each other all the time, waiting for the end of the world to come shortly. Maybe THE END would happen during a trigonometry explanation.

Although I didn’t really believe in the end of the world, I also wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of a sine and cosine formula being the last thing I’d hear in life. Noticing the class’s restlessness, my math teacher, an older gentleman with grandchildren, said: “You’re waiting for the end of the world, aren’t you?”. Here you have to imagine a very slow and nasal voice, pronouncing each syllable as if he had an egg in his mouth. Besides everything, he spoke very softly, but the silence was so profound that I could hear him perfectly.

I don’t remember if anyone answered anything, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that my math teacher put down the chalk on the blackboard and began to, let’s say, philosophize: “You don’t need to worry, but the truth is that the world ends every day”.

“My world, for instance, has already ended. You live in a world completely different from what I lived in when I was your age. The things from my world no longer exist, and this will happen to you too. But this doesn’t have a fixed date. The world ends slowly”.

Some people might have been chuckling, but others listened to everything very attentively. I was one of those people. It wasn’t normal for our math teacher to talk about things that didn’t involve numbers, so I judged that moment to be important.

Obviously, Mother Dináh was wrong. The world didn’t end that morning in 1996. At least, not for us. But my math teacher was right. The world was going to end many, many times after that. And we wouldn’t even notice.