Credits to: GIPHY
Ah, hello there. How are you? I hope you're doing just as well as I have been over the two weeks since my previous lockdown update. It's interesting to see how one perceives time when the whole world just stops in its place, constant, with only those few, brave souls keeping the machinations of our human civilisation moving. If you're one of them - from healthcare workers, volunteers, front-line servicemen and servicewomen, the delivery person sending out food and groceries, or among others - you have my heartfelt gratitude, which I'm sure others will join-in, with a unanimous Thank You!
Personally, I've kept myself busy with writing, and I've been humbled by the support that the community has given me, through all this time. Half a year ago, I set out on a mission, to speak out my mind, and breaking this introverted die that I have cast over myself, and this, the way you're seeing it now, was how I planned on doing it. Just sharing my random thoughts, and my most keenly interests. No poetic grammar, no bombastic plots; the end goal was just to have fun, and engage with people from around the world, who I wouldn't have met otherwise.
Credits to: GIPHY
I was also gauging to understand if writing was a viable choice for work, either temporarily, or until my hair turns grey. I've truly enjoyed what's been built so far, not just my connections with each one of you, but what that relation meant - the jests, the laughter, and the thoughtful discussions in between. Through it all, it's made time pass so much faster, and even as we're approaching the 50th day of partial-lockdown here in Malaysia, I've felt as if it had only been just over a week.
It's a very odd sensation, but one I take pleasure in. Nevertheless, there are some teething evocations of how much time has actually gone-by since it all started. Seeing the small calendar on my desktop, or when my phone's alarm shocks me into a rude awakening every morning. They have, at times, reminded me as to how much I missed spending time outside, and how much I cherished the once underrated act of going for a stroll. Still, we do what we must, if it means taking the fight to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
A(n) (Un)Welcoming Change?
Credits to: The Star | Locals crowding up a local market.
These dull days could be numbered however, though I wonder if it's a case of, "too fast, too furious ". Several days ago marked May the 4th, a global celebration for every Star Wars fan, including yours truly, and also a day where the sombre teachings of the Force had rekindled us the meaning of spiritual strength, and of our common humanity. It also marked a day to which Malaysia, echoing other nations around the globe, had decided to lift the veil that's kept us locked-down at home.
Now, we have the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), and while it may just be the addition of one word, with four syllables; the effects have, and will be profound. It marks the first time in over a month and a half, that our partially locked-down population could finally have the chance to move about once more, with some restrictions of course. It could mark the beginning of a slow, long road back to normality. Restaurants, shops, markets, factories, offices; they could once again proclaim, "We're open for business! ". The question remains - was this a good step, given the uncertainties around a viable vaccine, and was this order enacted too quickly?
I can understand why they've done it, just like those other nations, that's been on the path towards recovery. Humans are social creatures, and we like to be around each other, in comfort, or convenience. That was a principle that we had to sacrifice, to ensure that a contagious virus does not pass to the people that we care about, let alone ourselves. Painful as locking-down may have been, it was the right thing to do. Would you risk becoming a transmission for the plague, and harming others around you? That's not a burden that I, nor any reasonable person would want on their conscience.
Credits to: MalayMail | How daily commutes look like, post-CMCO.
But after a while, being under quarantine has brought us the need to socialise once more, and to relight that spirit of humanity. It gets us tingling on the outside, and a bit mad on the inside; an excruciating experience. People will, sooner or later, demand for a return to inter-connectivity between ourselves. Even in this era of social media, it will never replace the feeling of meeting a person in real life; to notice their warm glow, and soft touch.
There's also the other, very busy parts of our human world. We're a ingenious kind, with our avid curiosity and productive nature disliking the notion of sitting down for too long, and doing nothing. The economics of mankind have been under strain, simply because no customers, means no income. The wheel needs to keep turning. Stimulus, and financial aids will help, but they're not nearly enough. Even though human life is immeasurable, all the things in our modern lives that keeps us going, revolves money in some way or another.
That's the sad truth. Ever more pertinent are smaller enterprises, those who may not have the headroom to absorb large losses. Though even understanding that need to unshackle ourselves from quarantine, I still have concerns over whether it's a good idea to re-open in such a drastic fashion. It's the large concentrations of people, all at the right time and place, that encourages this plague to spread. Take, for instance, the decision to re-open kindergartens and nurseries. I'm only mentioning this in particular, since my mother works in a nursery, and just like her colleagues, she was equally bewildered, and concerned by the decision to re-open so soon.
Credits to: MalayMail | Nursery gets a disinfection.
Already, since a couple of days ago, a couple of my mom's colleagues were asked to come back to work; for a few hours of organising, disinfections, and recording videos of lessons on how to pronounce the different alphabets, then sent to parents over WhatsApp. Technically, they're not allowed to fully re-open until May 12th comes along, which should've meant the end of the movement-control order altogether, pending an extension otherwise. That alone, is a whole other can of worms, and I'll just wait for news then.
Back to the state of children; while they are more immune to Covid-19 than those in older age groups, they're still not impervious, and with the right set of conditions, they too can get infected, and die. Nurseries and kindergartens are what we call, "high-contact businesses ", that require plenty of human touch. Imagine bathing the children, feeding them, playing with toys, story time, and lessons. Even with social-distancing rules in place, how could they expect children, who are between four, and six years of age, to practice that? More importantly, how could we blame them? They are, after all, doing what kids normally do - having fun.
Business premises crammed with people, packed busses and trains with commuters going to work; it all looks like an opportunistic breeding ground for more sickness. However, that seems, so far anyways, to not be true. Now, it's only been a couple of days, but confirmed cases and deaths have not risen as dramatically as I have imagined. These are after having re-adjusted my expectations, knowing how ignorant some people have been over these last few weeks.
Credits to: MalayMail | The first batch of students on their way home from campus.
Mind you, plenty of restrictions are still in place, as police and army checkpoints dwindle to only a select number of hard-hit areas. Travelling between states still have their strict guidelines, and any significant movement requires you to install, and request permission through an app. In some states, not mine; restaurants are allowing dine-ins, with distancing being enforced. Schools, and other high-learning institutions, are likely to be closed for most of the academic year.
Some days ago, we were watching closely at the nation's university students, who for long, have been stranded at their campuses since the partial-lockdown began in the middle of March. Now, the government is organising the students' return back to their families, and hometowns. Convoys of busses and vans ferried about those in their late-teens, and early-20s with great trepidation, accompanied by police escorts along the way.
Presently, with or without an easing of the lockdown measures, I don't believe that it'll have much of an effect on my life, the way it is now. I wake up, sometimes excited, though few things of late have been noteworthy. For one thing, the fasting month of Ramadan still goes on, and here I am, neither drinking, nor eating from dawn to dusk. It's a whole lot easier once you've accustomed to it over two weeks. If there's one complaint, it's that the lack of bazaars are really having an effect on my food cravings. More restaurants might be opening, but between them, options are rather lacklustre. I hope more menus will available at some point, soon. Otherwise, I'll have to cook, and no living god, or devil wants to see that happen.
Credits to: Bing Covid Tracker - Malaysia | That graph on the left-hand side; notice the steep drop as of yesterday.
Could I be wrong about this whole thing? Will people strictly follow these new guidelines, with lesser enforcement in place? Though it's too early to tell, I do hope that I'll be wrong about how people will behave during this period. This is something that I'll be happy to be incorrect about; a contrast to most other things in life. In the days leading up to the CMCO, we've had a monumental increase of cases, though that seemed to have originated from a contained cluster.
Since then, we've dropped back to the double digits, with all this sounding up to be good news. Without wishing to sound cynical however; what happens if this is just a temporary gap in the statistic, and it'll soon go belly up? If that were the case, will the politicians remain resolutely ignorant, to just stand by their actions, and claim that everything is just fine? Or would it get so bad, that we'll have to re-enforce the lockdowns once more, undoing all the effort and sacrifice that's gone before it?
Plenty of questions abound, and few answers heard... Just speculations; and speculations as I've learned, are mightily dangerous. For now, it's worthwhile undergoing the same precautions as we've done over these last few, difficult weeks. Remember that it's better to be safe, than sorry.
Credits to: GIPHY
Thanks for reading! For more updates on my blogs, or the more minute things in life, feel free to follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium, and maybe give a shout there as well!