I recently came across a post that mentioned about how people turn to writing during times of crisis. I will never forget this particular description, for it truly speaks to my heart.“A diary can serve as a stimulant to feeling. It can remind the author, whether she is writing from prison or the warfront or a sickbed or—blessedly—from the safety and comfort of her own home, that she is alive.“
Blessedly, indeed, I am still able to write from the safety and comfort of my own home. Singapore may be in its Circuit Breaker stage now, which many view as just another term for lockdown. But hey, at least we are mostly safe, and if we continue to keep to the rules, we will be able to get through this month (and hopefully, not extend it).
But one month of staying home is strangely not as easy as it sounds. Even as a homebody with a high inclination of becoming a hikkimori (Japanese term for reclusive people who withdraw from society and seek extreme degrees of isolation and confinement), there is just something different about staying home during a pandemic. The world is in chaos, every time I read the news it is about people’s suffering or yet another death.
If you’re lucky like me, with a proper house to live in, you are a bird in gilded cage. And for the less fortunate, like the Bangladeshi workers who are stuck in unsanitary quarters too inhumanly close to each other, it is just another form of prison.
How then, to feel positive again? How do you feel alive? There are many articles writing about self-improvement, and how you should make use of this isolation period to enrich yourself. Well, truth is, many might not have the luxury for all these flippant capitalist notions of superfluous productivity. Even if you might have all the time in the world, you might just not be in the mood. Who really is? The pandemic has thoroughly upended our lives, now all of us have to live with the constant fear over anything and everything.
My throat is starting to itch… I be so unlucky to get Covid-19? I accidentally brushed past a stranger this morning, what if (s)he is a presymptomatic carrier? Will I be able to keep my job? How can I pay the mounting bills?
And for those who are directly affected by the pandemic, having to deal with their loved ones in hospital, losing their loved ones to the disease, or being one of the infected patients, they have to deal with suffering and loss beyond human comprehension. For usual diseases, yes, it might be fraught with pain and torment, but at least there are still times of light and flickers of joy when your family comes to visit you. But these people have to be separated from their loved ones, even when death is knocking at their door.
And how about the courageous health personnel risking their lives to save people from this coronavirus? They are working under extraordinary times of stress, facing the constant threat of the hospital being overwhelmed with patients. And they can’t even indulge in a simple thing like a quick hug or kiss from their family the moment they reach home, in order to protect them.
It is hard not to get one’s head wrapped up about all these negative things, for they are all over the news. I am no expert with dealing with such an unprecedented phenomenon, but who really is? But to me, I guess one way I can deal with it is to write. Write to feel alive, to be reminded that I am still lucky to be breathing. Maybe that’s how I can get by another day. I’m not going to write to feel productive, so I won’t be forcing myself to write posts just because I have to. I will write because I want to.
With this in mind, I will probably be starting with some recollections of trips I was so fortunate to have been on, and yet somehow neglected to record down. I think all of us need a little constant reminder that we have all had good times, and they will come again.