You’ve really done it hey, making 2020 one of the most memorable years in my life so far. When there was news of you first surfacing in China, I was still so relaxed here in Singapore, still going to work as per normal, meeting friends for dinner and drinks, still going for yoga or spin classes multiple times a week. Didn’t think it’d really cause significant difference in my life, but oh boy, your impact was SO great. Your cousin SARS was already quite the shocker. I was a student back then and SARS caused schools to close for one of the first times in Singaporean history because it was such a dangerous virus. We all assumed that you, being less fatal, wouldn’t be that scary. Guess we’ve severely underestimated you.
You’ve caused businesses to close, companies to go into bankruptcy, people to die. You’ve caused a lot of grief, loss, and anxiety. I don’t even think you deserve a slow clap. Because of you, every family had to hide at home, find space in their sanctuaries for a work corner, and figure out how to live a new normal 24/7 around their families and not step on each other’s toes. I just switched jobs, and was learning the ropes in my new workplace when you came along and threw bricks in my face. Because of everything going online, I’ve had to learn new things on top of the new things I was already meant to learn. Dude, why! I was happy not knowing about the existence of all these things you can do on a computer like sharing screens or live-streaming or online meeting rooms. I also had to learn how to connect microphones to audio inputs to record songs on my computer for church. These things are confusing! As you can tell, I’m not really that into technology, I’m more old-school. Call me a “boomer”, I don’t care.
On the social side of things, I’d say I’ve always thought circuit breaker was going to be easy. I’m an introvert, I can probably stay home, not see or talk to anyone and be happy for days. But I forgot to consider that my family would be home too, and the average amount of space in the house per person was significantly reduced for most hours of the day. That’s not the isolated, peaceful CB I had in mind! Additionally, I’ve had to experience the wrath of my mum when misunderstandings happen amidst her higher stress levels trying to do groceries shopping and putting food on the table for the family daily. Don’t want to go into details (and also don’t want to bring up the horrible memories) but let’s just say I wouldn’t even wish this upon my worst enemy if I had one.
But mate, indirectly thanks to you, my family had to sit in a room for an entire afternoon and talk things through, thrash things out. I don’t think we’ve ever done that before. Because of you, I’ve been learning heaps about them, what they’re really like in such unique circumstances, how generous they are, and how loving they can be, despite themselves being stressed out about a million other things. I know it’s weird but I’ve never known that they could care for me at such a level. I’ve just never seen it or realised it in the past, when I hardly saw them and maybe only had meals with them once in a couple of weeks. I know that my family will emerge from this experience closer than before.
On a lighter note, I’d say that another good thing you’ve brought is the time to do things I rarely made time for. I’m in the kitchen more, making multiple batches of kuehs, bread, cold brews, flat whites, cocktails… Easy to do, but difficult to master, especially the coffee. Pulling a good shot is so tough! I used you as an excuse to get this coffee machine so that I could make my own coffee, and also get some practice in with pulling shots. Not cheap you know, but I justified it. I used a similar coffee machine at the office pantry daily, and to have to buy the same kind of coffee daily from cafes would burn my pockets. In a way, I’m saving money, and my sanity from the lack of caffeine.
Dear COVID-19, personifying you has been interesting, and writing this letter has caused me to really reflect on how I’ve grown and what I’ve learnt these few months. You’ve made me appreciate life more, understand my family more, and you’ve even given me time to pick up and master new skills. Though there’s so much you’ve destroyed in the world, but on a selfish personal level, guess I should really say thank you. So thanks mate, but please, don’t come back again.