By Anthony Dylan
Half a year has gone past. It seemed a long time since life was as we used to know. Everything changed in 2020. It felt like something trivial which would go away just as fast as it appeared. But it did not. It stuck to us like our own shadow.
Gone are the days when you would look forward to the weekends after a busy weekday to catch up with friends and family. Planned parties and gatherings at home or in shopping centres or restaurants are just beautiful memories now. Shopping centres have gone eerily quiet. The buzz is no longer there. Even when there were allowed openings last year and early this year; nothing remained familiar. Yet, some still do not see the reality as they live in self denial. A disease of the corporate world. If you are not like us then you are against us. To them, I dare say that now you must be eating nothing more than humble pie.
Do you remember what it was like before? We wake up in the morning readying ourselves for work. Those who are in manufacturing, commodity, agriculture and livestock and trades people would wake up even earlier or have different shift work. You would curse the traffic jams and that slow driver ahead or even the LRT or public transport that never improved.
Breakfast at the stalls or at home was easy. The same with lunch and dinner. We had work and we had everything planned. Even our holidays. Itineraries were set. Meetings meant large rooms with beady eyes. Online meetings? Never a priority. School was about uniforms and homework. The fears of the exam results and parent teacher’s day are common. Preparing to go to university was exciting. A new place and to some, even a faraway country.
We dream of travel. We dream of visiting our own backyard and overseas. The idea of getting out via KLIA was always there. For many like me, the idea of planned returns to Kuching meant something. The same for anyone who lived in Sabah or Sarawak or anywhere in the Peninsula.
All are just distant memories. It gets further and further away. It would be close to one and a half years soon. It feels long because you can no longer experience this. Being safe is getting harder. Getting vaccinated is a prolonged wait. At times you do question as to why those who are healthier and younger and based on the requirements would have been vaccinated later have already got theirs. You wonder why you are still stuck at, “Assessment” in mySejahtera. Nevertheless, it comforts you knowing that both your parents have been vaccinated with “Sinovac”, one of the prescribed vaccines.
Not many whom I know have got Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech). I do know a few who managed to get into the draw for the voluntary opt in of Astra Zeneca. It is kind of weird when you know that the majority wants to get vaccinated but the vaccines have not come sooner. Many still wait. There was news that soon we would be seeing the Can-Sino single dose vaccine along with the 2 dose Sputnik V by Gamaleya.
Would the vaccination be the cure all? We are not sure as what is certain is that it does not make you invincible. You can still infect others and show no or little health issues yourself. The latter forms the reason for vaccination. The end goal is to ensure the health facilities can cope. Eradication of Covid-19 is not yet the main focus. Some have even said that it could be endemic if the health effects can be controlled and critical needs suppressed.
Many stalls and restaurants have also shuttered for the past year. Some may not return at all. We have started to see even kopitiams being struck with cases. It is an unseen enemy that refuses to go away. It seemed to have found the very weakness of human beings in being complacent as the strength of evolution. Each time a new strain comes, questions are asked of the effectiveness of the vaccines on them. No one really knows for use as the vaccines were created in reaction to what was known since January 2020.
Do you remember how it was to hit the gym or to the badminton courts and futsal courts? The feeling of going on hikes and cycling is even curbed nowadays with constant on-off restrictions. Watching a movie in a cinema seemed like a long time ago. The feeling has been numbed.
Life has been changed so drastically today since last year. The New Year Eve, The Chinese New Year, Wesak, Deepavali, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Haji, Thaipusam, Pesta Kaamatan, Gawai Dayak, Easter and Christmas have all been affected. It is no longer a novelty when you think that the future would likely be the same. 2019 was as long as we can easily remember.
Businesses never recovered to the levels in 2019 at all in any of their openings. Everyone suffers but everyone knows that only we ourselves can lift us up. The world has been affected as if this was World War 3. A reset is the correct descriptive word of what is needed. We need to relearn things. Perhaps this pandemic is required to even out things. Some beg to differ. I do too as at times I still feel more was expected of those in power.
Do you remember the smile in the mirror when you look at it in the morning? Perhaps it is time to try to look at things in a different way.