The Corona Chronicles

03/04/2020

Kuala Lumpur Lockdown

 

Overcoming loss is complicated and some have linked it to the stages patients with terminal illness go through – denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance”

I picked up on the above amongst the flurry masses of Covid-19 articles and links forwarded to my mobile device hourly. Filtering plethoras of bad news has been a routine since 18th March 2020.

Doomsday scenario: the entire nation is forced to stay home in social isolation and to suspend non-essential work and businesses. The city is haunted by the army patrolling for hefty summons towards those who wander out of their homes for no valid reason. Our country has locked our borders from the outside world. Life has never been the same since.

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Life is shit.

Our current situation is akin to an alien invasion – the virus is an extraterrestrial thus is beyond any human comprehension. Out of this panic pandemic, world leaders are head butting social policies blindfolded while they attempt to convince the public that they fully know what they are doing.

In reality, nobody knows. Do you?

No doctor and the greatest advancement of science is able to immune, let alone buffer mutated flu. Vaccines will only be available a year from now, at the very least. For as long as every single person on the planet has NOT had a virus test – locking us in with an isolationist approach will never shield us from an invisible, yet seemingly invincible enemy. Without a clear strategy, we hastily chose to destroy our global economy in this process of figuring out what to do.

The virus is a decoy. Many of us are dying psychologically.

This level of uncertainty and imposed lockdown devastates all our 2020 plans, hopes and resolutions including our sanity. Cabin fever is imminent. Panic buying becomes a fun outing. We are all addicted to our phones seeking out death tolls rather than the recovery tolls.

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There are four groups of characters dealing with lockdowns:

1) Opportunists who will work on bettering themselves, or to be lazy (and lazier).
2) Pessimists who will grief, and dwell in this nightmare.
3) Spiritual Sadists who affirms that the world should suffer for abusing the earth (weird karma?!)
4) Futurists who will plan for the future, even if normalcy only resumes in 2030.

The past two weeks I went through all of the above except for spiritual sadism, just because I am not into self-flagellation for something someone else did.

My first lockdown week was a living disaster. On March 16th all businesses were given a 20 hour notice to wind down their businesses by March 18th without clear governmental policies. I still recall the day I stood with my team, which comprise from all walks of life, in breaking the news of the apocalypse.

I was rather teary-eyed when I said this:
“Everything we are experiencing now is beyond our control and the world. I beg you all to stay strong and have faith in us making this work”
I couldn’t entertain any questions thereafter because I simply had no answers. What a shitty leader.

My other half, my love, was due to fly in on the day of the national lockdown. We met out of exceptional circumstances back in November 2019 and even though we were mostly apart, we miraculously manoeuvred the long distance by racing through airports and we lived our lives epic. Life would fall into place by March as we would finally be united for the long term in the same country, but then the international borders shut abruptly. Indefinitely.

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As this is non-fiction, I was heartbroken. I don’t know when we will see each other again.

Coping with the shock of being imprisoned within the family home in your late 30s, where I have spent 80% of my life gallivanting the world, socialising at the restaurants, parties and at work crippled my nervous system. I had a grand idea of surviving the lockdown with a bottle of orange wine daily… but it turned out that being drunk in my negative state of mind would bring out the worst of me and hell it did.

So I stopped drinking.

I hated the world, its policies and its helplessness. I cried most mornings, struggled with the smallest tasks. I snapped at the slightest irritation. My insecurities returned, so much so that I was so sad that I turned vegetarian.

By week 2, I learnt to poach an egg. Every morning I run around my garden 60 times, planked 3 sets of 100 seconds reps and I began reading a self-help book into the sunset. I finally wired in my surround speakers in my bedroom, retrieved my old techno CDs and ordered a DJ console. I am appreciative that the wifi signal is forgiving. I started to play PubG by teaming with my other half because counting kills became a mode of sanity and unity over long distance.

To ease myself into strategic planning for an unforeseeable future, I transformed my kitchen bar into a workspace. While our dire circumstances is seemingly real – history has shown that any ridiculous idea born out of pain can be a game-changer in reality. Perhaps there is no better opportunity to plan ahead of time even if it makes no sense?

That’s me being futuristic with a hint of sarcasm.

As the days go by, I work on self-love as immunity to the ongoing negativity that surrounds us. Humanity has never felt so vulnerable, but courage is all it takes to wait out our days with hope.

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I hope for the day when we can hug our friends at our local bar. I cannot wait for the day when I can dive back straight into work, back into my restaurants and back into the kitchens. And the day when I would head to the airport’s arrival so that we will never have to say goodbye again.

Courage is not to lose hope of all the above. While this imposed imprisonment is unjust, we must attempt to make the best of the present, one small sober step at a time. Just like a terminal illness, we may never know all of the answers – but the least we can do is to strive for psychological survival, that is to be the best version of ourselves during these deepest darkest depths.

Post Covid-19: Everyone will live happily ever after as no one will ever take life for granted again.

But that said, on acceptance – and as this virus is so seemingly contagious beyond all universal scientific truths – I shall hope that there will not be any further “surprise” policies or discoveries that could mean putting our beloved pets into quarantine….

I will refuse to pay the price of this negligence. You can F&*k off.

Lyn Siew

Lyn Siew

Based in Kuala Lumpur and having previously lived and worked across 8 countries, Lyn Siew is the owner of an award-winning Contemporary Chinese Hybrid Restaurant, Ruyi & Lyn. She is currently incubating a local startup project for culinary students, and building an online platform for the global food community. Relationship status? Married to food and champagne.