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#dearcovid19sg

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NKC

student

It is with a steadfast resolve as we take on the second half of this year. Tiding through the Covid-19 pandemic is no easy feat, but we march on relentlessly, in reassuring solidarity. I share my piece, as a youth, once carefree but now thrust into an unencountered, unprecedented crisis. In the early months of 2020 when the virus had emerged and surfaced in news reports, there were bouts of panic buying, aggressive testing and -for the student population- a paradigm shift in the delivery of teaching. Having never encountered any sort of national emergency before, I merely viewed this as a passing issue and more of a disruption to my face to face classes. I carried on, mask-free. Then on March 21st, the World Health Organisation (WHO) left a message for the young people that shook me to the core, nipping my nonchalant attitude towards the pandemic right in the bud. “You are not invincible.” Hearing these 4 words, I suddenly felt vulnerable. The message shone the light on the immature thoughts that I had harbored such as ‘Young people are strong’ and ‘Even if we do contract the virus, our immune system can overcome it.’ Furthermore, the ramifications of my laid back attitude could have unknowingly implicated individuals more at risk. But this is not a piece on condemnation or regret. It is an account on what was occurring around the world, through the eyes of a 21 year old during this period, and just one of the many stories that will be told when we recall 2020. Covid-19 brought pain and suffering, it caused major disruptions and inconvenience, but it did not defeat us. Under the leadership of a supportive government, everyone found their own way of adapting to the new norm. And the unlikely youths, once branded as the snowflake generation, have actually displayed resilience and creativity in overcoming these turbulent times. We exercised alongside workout videos, displayed our cooking prowess, and might have even learnt a new skill through massive open online courses. The horror that usurped the world and sought to divide us failed as we nurtured our bonds through regular Zoom video calls and gracious food deliveries to friends and families. Some have even gone a step further and volunteered in charities such as the Food Bank to collect and donate food to the needy. The transition to a digitalized lifestyle has been smooth for young people who are the most receptive to technology. And in this technologically driven landscape, some of us have become the teachers. Or in my case, a personal technical support, as I navigate my mother through the various technical issues she encounters. Being relied upon shows that the youths are not powerless in this crisis. We can be as much of a positive influence with the right tools and platform, and are not to be underestimated due to our age. As we approach the month of July, which is also the Youth month, let us celebrate our growth. For we will all emerge from this pandemic a different person, whether physically, mentally or emotionally.

NA

Fresh Grad

Hey. October 2019 I went on my mandatory Oversea Immersion Program, or rather, I would call it 'My Germany Trip' to complete my last semester of university and be a proud university graduate. All seems well on the surface, but in reality, it wasn't smooth sailing at all. When people say that they envy me, I felt uneasy. I screwed up the transferring of money to my blocked account and thus, for a week or two, I didn't know where my money was. I also screwed up my visa application and couldn't receive it before I fly. Making daily calls to the Germany Embassy Singapore became my routine. Just for a visa, I flew back to Singapore in December and then back to Germany a week after. Who would have thought that I would travel to Europe TWICE in 6 months? Honestly, I travelled with a heavy heart. December 2019 The news about Covid-19 travelled to Germany and soon after, there was case number 1. I didn't care much about that small little virus then, my heart and soul was all into writing a scientific book (thesis). One day while I was in the lab, I overheard an angmoh who was complimenting about Singapore. He was impressed by how our healthcare and government dealt with the Covid-19 situation. There and then, I lifted my eyes and hoped he would've lengthened his speech. I was proud of being a Singaporean. March 2020 Finally, school have unofficially come to an end. We, the students, can explore Europe with real smiles on our faces before heading home to make everyone jealous. Guess what? The order calling for all students to return to Singapore ASAP just s**tted us in our faces. This message caused 2 of my housemates to be in tears. None of us wanted to return home. The message simply implies to us that we are to cancel all our travelling plans and head back home to face the 14 days quarantine. 18 March 2020 Because the first flight had a delay. Because the shuttle bus of Dubai International Airport did not move. Because the transiting time was short. Because I am not a marathon runner. I had to queue TWICE for a request to have a new flight ticket. 20 March 2020 When I had reached home, I was not that exhausted, not very hungry, and not very happy. I was just sad that my mum couldn't give me a hug. Recently Recently, I was bombed by my best friend that she planned to get married this year, but it was postponed. Literally, this information came to me like a bomb; totally unexpected. But I did text her and gave my blessings the next day. Now, my stories continue with me being someone who does not need to study anymore, have no job, and like everyone else, limited in freedom. Looking back, I wondered how I have managed so many feelings. Bye.

Lily Lee

Full-timer

Dear Covid-19, You have brought many changes to my home. Rice runs out faster. Frozen food replaces fresh food. A box of masks replaces the tissue box that usually sits in the living room. You have affected my family financially too. My dad went from a driver to a househusband. Debts increase as my dad struggles with the bills despite the government's support. The pay that I am saving up for university goes to shouldering some of my family's financial responsibilities. Truly, a tough time for my family. And everyone in the world. Thankfully, we have each other to seek solace in. My sister found time in the morning to make pancakes for everyone occasionally. My brother games with my dad more often. I discuss family stuff with my dad more often at night after my siblings have gone to bed. We gather for dinner everyday. And we play mahjong together at night whenever possible. I also have more late night conversations with my sister since she didn't have to wake so early for school (We share a room). So Covid-19, I hope you can leave quickly so my family situation can go back to normal. But, thank you for bringing my family closer. It is easy to take many things for granted when life is normal. Hence, thank you for making me treasure the time with my family more. For treasuring the health of my family more. And for treasuring the relationship I have with my family members more. P.S. In case you are wondering why is there no mention of my mom, my parents are divorced and she doesn't live with us. She does send texts occasionally asking about our well-being.

Qi

Student

Dear Covid-19, this is my story of embracing uncertainty and (a nice attempt of) finding direction in life. The moment you appeared, you threw my life into a complete mess. I have been waiting for this year all my life. I secured an internship at a company that i have always wanted to work at and I was so excited on embarking on my long awaited exchange programme for the rest of the year. I was at the top of the world, i felt that nothing will go wrong anymore. I have always been a planner, and i would say I am good at it. However, your appearance made me grow up, you forced me to embrace changes. You forced me to realise that nothing truly goes as planned, but it will be fine. It will. You are truly the embodiment of what a VUCA world entails. You are a testament to what my GP teacher in JC always used to say “We live in an ever changing world”. I have always known “Change is the only constant” but thank you for showing me how much more i would have to grow to truly thrive in the world i live in today. Your appearance taught me how self-entitled I unconsciously was. I realised how, i myself, as much as i want to be delusional, my first instinct when something diverts from plan was to blame. So, definitely, your appearance brought about reflection and actions towards self-improvement. I am really grateful. I am grateful for the time i get to spend with my family and a country where i know, will be able to provide my loved ones and i with the best medical care, if necessary. I am grateful that i have friends to miss, people to make “when covid-19 end” plans with and an education institution that tries its best to give my fellow university mates and I an education despite this situation. Thank you for instilling empathy in me. I have realised how much more driven and passionate i am, in building a meaningful career for myself that involves giving back to the society in the future. I know you will be here to stay for quite awhile. However, i know we will defeat you eventually. #sgunited “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change”

XXXXXX

Part time retail assistant

My story is super specific HAHA. Some may be able to identify me /shrugs/ I was about to convert to a full time retail assistant on April 2020, a decision made after months of contemplation. So FYI, I have been working in my company as a part time retail assistant for one and a half years, during which I gained much confidence and actually ENJOYED this job, especially so as I have proven that I’m pretty competent at it. So, some background: I have an University degree, and I took on jobs that were more ~suitable~ for me in terms of position and pay grade. But the thing is they turned out to be unsuitable for me, in terms of the people I’m working with as well as the jobs themselves. I was extremely stressed and depressed for some time, quit these jobs without having another job ready, and just took on a part-time retail position, with much lesser pay and more flexible schedule. Never knew that I could love this job so much. And this is when COVID-19 comes, and my confirmation came to an abrupt S T O P. And then on Apr 7 circuit breaker had my store (that is ‘non-essential’) closed for idk-when (was stated it will last till may 5, then changed to June, then now July). So what now? No announcements from my company, but I still need some money to tide over circuit breaker, so I ended up working in NTUC as a temp staff. Fast forward to June when my contract with NTUC has ended, I’m now unemployed (again), and my company have told me I will be converted as a full-timer at mid July — So hey, at least I have a job after circuit breaker? :) During this circuit breaker I thought a lot of things, that life circumstances can be so abrupt, so many things can change. In ntuc some of my colleagues came from different industries - one is a tour guide, one who is planning to open a bar within a few months time before Covid-19 hit, another a manicurist - so many people are hit by this pandemic. We are all affected one way or another. So any moral for this story? I’m afraid not. I would just say that this few months has been a whirlwind or sorts, but we are all in this (National song does not play now btw). Life does get terrifying, but we’ll get through this. I mean, I kept in touch with tons of my friends during CB (surprisingly), took up free online courses (Yale University’s course on happiness!), learnt new things (video editing) and even go on virtual museum tours (really recommend NGV’s commes des garcons exhibition). This cb is a time to think back at my life, and is a story to tell for my future generations. Thank you for reading till this point. My speech has ended (bows).

Janicia

Student

Dear Covid-19, Thank you. Just thank you so much. Surprisingly while everyone has spent most of their time either sleeping or playing games ,I've spent most of my time thinking on how can i be a better person as a whole. Throughout 18 years of my life, I've actually never make my parents once proud. My results were bad so were my attitude that i never actually respected my parents. I never once ask them for options neither once ask them how is their day is like too when they asked about mine. You might be thinking, I am such a bad daughter to treat my parents as if they were nothing to me. Yes. I admit i am. Covid-19 and then circuit breaker came. I had to face them every single day. Initally, the thoughts went in me: '' Seeing them every single day just irks me a lot ''. I slowly distance myself away from them so I played games day and night. On 31st of may just 3 weeks ago in the middle of the night while i was sleeping, I received a call. From a unknown number and the other party said: '' He left us '' and that's when i know that i lost my best friend to a battle of his chronic condition. My partner in crime. Someone who dotes me like a younger sister. Someone who would be there for me throughout. I cried till my pillows were wet from my tears. I couldn't believe. I blamed myself that i couldn't cherish the times i had with my best friend. I blamed myself for not changing into a better person,despite advices given. I blamed myself for being the playful immature kid. I blamed myself, a lot. Thoughts flooded in my mind: ''If only i could be better.If only i could change. If only i cherished things that were in front of me and not regretting after. '' On one particular evening while i was seating on the couch watching TV together with my parents, we laughed till our stomach got hurt. We shed tears from laughing. I looked at their faces for the first time, and i thought to myself, This is what i wanted since young. A happy family that is right in front of me, where we share our sorrows and worries together. So please, cherish someone. Tell them you love them today before its too late. I know there were many commericals and news/texts saying the same exact sentence i was saying and probably cried, but honestly you wouldn't know what comes tomorrow. Cherish as if they were the last moments spent together and saying I love you doesn't hurt too.

Janicia

Student

Dear Covid-19, Thank you. Just thank you so much. Surprisingly while everyone has spent most of their time either sleeping or playing games ,I've spent most of my time thinking on how can i be a better person as a whole. Throughout 18 years of my life, I've actually never make my parents once proud. My results were bad so were my attitude that i never actually respected my parents. I never once ask them for options neither once ask them how is their day is like too when they asked about mine. You might be thinking, I am such a bad daughter to treat my parents as if they were nothing to me. Yes. I admit i am. Covid-19 and then circuit breaker came. I had to face them every single day. Initally, the thoughts went in me: '' Seeing them every single day just irks me a lot ''. I slowly distance myself away from them so I played games day and night. On 31st of may just 3 weeks ago in the middle of the night while i was sleeping, I received a call. From a unknown number and the other party said: '' He left us '' and that's when i know that i lost my best friend to a battle of his chronic condition. My partner in crime. Someone who dotes me like a younger sister. Someone who would be there for me throughout. I cried till my pillows were wet from my tears. I couldn't believe. I blamed myself that i couldn't cherish the times i had with my best friend. I blamed myself for not changing into a better person,despite advices given. I blamed myself for being the playful immature kid. I blamed myself, a lot. Thoughts flooded in my mind: ''If only i could be better.If only i could change. If only i cherished things that were in front of me and not regretting after. '' On one particular evening while i was seating on the couch watching TV together with my parents, we laughed till our stomach got hurt. We shed tears from laughing. I looked at their faces for the first time, and i thought to myself, This is what i wanted since young. A happy family that is right in front of me, where we share our sorrows and worries together. So please, cherish someone. Tell them you love them today before its too late. I know there were many commericals and news/texts saying the same exact sentence i was saying and probably cried, but honestly you wouldn't know what comes tomorrow. Cherish as if they were the last moments spent together and saying I love you doesn't hurt too.

Barney Gopalakrishnen

Events Producer

Analogous to how with international lockdowns, we can be locked out of many places, this pandemic had locked many of what I’ve been accustomed to out of relevancy. My corporate habiliments are now nothing more than textile dust. Whatever that have remained in my wardrobe that are comfortable enough for me to wear at home - as far as habiliments are concerned - that have become all that’s relevant. Relevance, these days - as I had observed my confreres via teleconferencing - is dressed in crew neck T-shirts or pajamas. In amidst the enforcing of circuit breaker measures, once in a dress shirt and dress pants, a neighbor had asked me, “Seeeeing sommmmebody?” Unanticipatedly, corporate habiliments have gone from being respectful to being suspicion worthy. In video conferences, clad in a three-piece suit and a necktie, with my pants out of frame, I had telecommuters guessing the types of shorts I’m in, “Is it floral? Gym? Running? Boxer? Or, no....don’t you dare! Don’t let it be just briefs? Or!....” Showing to them that I’ve got my dress pants on was to them, anticlimactic and preposterous. In telecommuting, communications can be ostensibly artificial. With technological intervention and its, at times, inefficaciousness (video freeze audio continues et alia), we can be presented as kinda humanoids like. Surely, telecommuting can’t be a missing compadres and confreres remedy. Additionally, the more we are accoutered with social distancing tools (masks, WFH, demarcations on seats and floors), the greater the prevalence of lonesomeness. Cordoned off getting together spots emblematized my spiritual apocalypse. I blame it on my extrovert personality. They’ve even got #socialdistancing as well. All comprehensibly so. Nevertheless in dreams, I had witnessed The More We Get Together becoming number one on Billboards and still in dreams, as an invited tuxedo-clad spectator, I had witnessed the song being awarded with Grammys and AMAs (American Music Awards) and with standing ovations. During the time when a group gathering can’t have more than ten people, wasn’t there an SGAG joke/meme ‘bout somebody wanting to leave the WhatsApp group as the group had more than ten members? Jokes aside, I comprehend the need for social distancing for in amidst this pandemic, social distancing is the new social responsibility. However, I am afraid that this pandemic, being a marathon as it is, may completely fade my communication skill into oblivion. In a time like this, tomorrow is more of a mystery that it had ever been. Nonetheless, witnessing how many fellow Singaporeans are not only adapting to the “new normal” but staying happy in spite of it simply by appreciating the gift of everyday, witnessing how many Singaporeans cheer us up with the likes of mrbrown (Lee Kin Mun) and Annette Lee (via TikTok), no excuse on my part, it is now my duty to learn from Singaporeans to adapt to the “new normal” and to simply appreciate the gift of everyday as well. For I’ve gotta put the kibosh on lamenting and be appreciative of everyone running together in this marathon including our frontline workers, essential workers and the talents cheering us up. I thank everybody and I look forward to being with all of you at the finish line. More importantly, beyond the finish line, the honor for all of you will be everlasting.

Seah Jin Heng

Student

Dear Covid - 19, You have been the most popular topic in 2020. You knew how unwelcome you are, but you still continue to go around like a boss. You are probably the most traveled one in the world today despite how most travel industries have stopped to operate. You are probably the most influential one who has changed the livelihood of many, destroying lovely families that you certainly should not have! However, because of you, I attended a precious lesson called [Gratitude]. Before you came, our mother Earth's are desperately crying for help that falls on all our deaf ears. We ignore the impact of global warming and climate change, by continuing to consume more than what we need. We continue to pollute the clean air we once enjoyed through mass production and intense transportation. We only care about the growth of our economy, but it took you to make us realize that Economy and the health of our Earth goes hand in hand. We destroyed the home of many animals at an unnerving rate without much hesitation. We kept them in a confined space for our own entertainment. It was you that made them finally able to return to the big space they once belong to, occupying the streets that we thought belonged to us but also them; and for us to experience first hand the feeling of being a confined space for a long period of time. You made me understand that we are interdependent on one another and shared this only livable planet called Earth. Due to the presence of yours, most of us have to coop ourselves at home! It was only now I learned to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life such as the comfort of my home. Thank you for creating the opportunity for me to spend more time with my family - parents and siblings that I once took for granted. We often care and want to spend more time with the people who are far from us, and neglect the ones who truly matter who we see daily and live in close proximity. It was you who brought my parents and I together to watch K - Drama for the first time. It was also you who made us communicate more. It was your presence that made me realise their presence even more. Lastly, me, myself and I! Living in a cosmopolitan city, we are too often bustling day in and day out, living little time for us to slow down to think or even breathe. Looking at the world outside of my cold steel gate, I finally have plenty of time to look inside of myself. Time is now in my favour to sort myself out. I start to focus more on myself and getting to know more about my own strengths and weaknesses. Efforts are now directed in developing myself and doing things I truly loved or always wanted to do such as cooking.

Xiu Hao Kuek

Undisclosed

The Uninvited Guest The world was approaching the end of 2019, preparing to welcome 2020, the year of new decade. 2020 was the year highly perceived to kickstart a new milestone of progress and advancement, it was truly hope-filled. It was also the festive period, with Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year to be celebrated all around the world. It was a festive season of joyful gatherings, reminiscing great memories with family and friends, a season of greetings, a season of new creation of friendship and bonds. The uninvited guest, Covid-19 first appeared discreetly. He came almost unnoticed, and not much attention was paid to it. We continued to celebrate. We continued to lead our lives as usual. It was probably due to the lack of resilience and accompanied by a high level of complacency, Covid-19 managed to make its presence felt in the world. The numbers were running high daily, and deaths reported at an alarming rate. No one knew who he was, or understand him well enough to know how to counter him. We took our time, we made our assumptions, we squandered off the precious crucial timeframe that were given to us. We constantly told ourselves “it’s not as bad as SARS, let’s not worry.”. We constantly told ourselves “ it will disappear on its own.” However, what the world witnessed was this guest took the world by a storm. Spreading to more than 200 countries, with close to 7 million infected, and 400,000 deaths worldwide. We were not prepared for this. With China being the 1st to impose a full lockdown, and several nations followed after that. Our lives — were totally overturned in a short span of a few months. Economies were badly hit. Jobs were lost. Suffering and deaths became imminent. Uncertainties grew. Conflicts arising, discrimination follows. The world was shaken awake to this impending crisis. The world was caught unprepared for the crisis. It was unprecedented no doubt, but it fully exposes flaws in the systems and surfaced the uncomfortable truth that the world refuses to acknowledge. Just to name a few — The lack of focus on people’s welfare, the inadequate crisis management of each country, the societal issue of racism, disrespecting human dignity and human rights… etc. The issue on racism and human rights became the top issues, evidently witnessed by the world, triggered by a series of events that saddened the world, like the death of George Floyd. These societal issues stemmed out from the self centred nature of the people today. The uninvited guest was not welcomed, but in my opinion, it was necessary. Unfortunately, it takes a crisis like this for the world to understand that there is so much we all have to work on. Economy may have been the priority for the longest time, it is also time for us to reflect, and realise that human lives are also to be equally valued. While the world is still recovering from the damages this guest have brought about, let us put aside petty arguments and continued to work and support one another during this period. People are suffering, people are stressed. The world has to learn, so do we. It is time for us to learn to be resilient and adaptable to changes. Only by being strong and hopeful ourselves can we provide hope to the others. We are global citizens, and our lives are interconnected in one way or another. Let’s all stand together, and be generous with our care and concern. If we can provide hope to just one more person each time, the world will be a better place eventually. Our effort counts. Thank you for the uncomfortable reminder to the world, uninvited guest. :)

Giana

Triage staff

Dear Covid 19, Because of you, I've seen the ugly side of humans. I've seen it before when I was working in the FNB and retail industry. But, seeing it now only further made me lose faith in humanity. Do people get more entitled as they get older? Do you think you deserve more with age? Before you express your displeasure and complain, do you think about the people serving you? Did you even spare a thought for us? We wear the suffocating PPE. We sanitize our hands a million times till raw. We repeat the same triage questions a million times to ensure all your safety. But, what did we get in return? You, complaining how slow we are. You, not adhering to safe distancing measures just because you want to enter faster. You, complaining how we paste the sticker on your shirt before asking you. (Must you really add on to my never ending list of questions?) Does it really matter where I paste your sticker? Your clothings are equally exposed anyways. You, complaining about why we ask for your contact details when it should all be in the records. You, complaining how it's so troublesome to even enter. You, saying no to the questions asked when you know that you have the symptoms. Do you know how many people you put at risk while doing that? Admitting that you're feeling unwell would not put you in a disadvantage you know? We will still give you the care you deserve, equally. Seriously, how hard is it to treat someone kindly. To say thank you. To be polite. Maybe it's because you're feeling unwell, after all you're visiting the clinic. Maybe it's because you think we're paid to do this so we deserve this. Maybe it's because you think you pay your taxes so you're entitled to this. Whatever it is, I don't know. But, all I'm asking is just for you to be slightly kinder. Just a word of thanks will mean a lot really. Just a little bit more patience will make a world of difference really. It will make our work easier and increases your safety. Just adhere to the operating hours please? We need to eat too, you know? You coming earlier during our lunch break won't help you see the doctor faster. You still have to wait. Sometimes outside in the hot weather. Sometimes inside if you complain too much and is making a huge fuss. But seriously, what do you want us to do when the staff go out for lunch? We have operating hours for a reason, so please follow them. It's useless to just praise healthcare heroes to the skies online, behind your screens, and then be self-enitled human beings in real life. Blaming it on old age is even worse. Old people has lived more years and should be more understanding, shouldn't they? And as their children, you just let them be rude? All I'm asking is for you to please be kinder. Be more patient. Be more grateful. Say "thank you" or just "thanks" please. Be more understanding. We're all in this pandemic together. It's hard enough as it is, so please don't make things even harder. Thank you. P.S: I'm not representing all the healthcare staff. This is just my own feelings and thoughts. #DEARCOVID19SG #GRATITUDE #FRUSTRATION

Daphne Goh

Student

Dear Covid-19, It's honestly a love hate relationship with you. At your first outbreak in China, all I could remember was the massive amount of infections and deaths you have caused. Back then, it seemed like a far away issue that only serves as a sharing topic that people were buzzing about. Little did we know, you gradually attacked the world, and of course, our little red dot, Singapore. When we started to see infections here and there around the region, we were all a little more cautious with our actions and behaviours. We were still living life as it is. 'Singapore is entering circuit breaker mode from 7th April onwards'. As we all hope for life to remain normal, the breaking of this news saddens the country. We were slowly rob away from all social interactions, activities and usual daily life routine because of your existence. We had to adapt to staying at home for months and work-from-home situation. Our normal lives were changing. We cannot go out. We cannot meet our friends. We cannot dine out. We cannot roam about the streets freely. We cannot. The list continues. Because of you, the world is suffering a lot. People are dying every single day. People are living in anxiety and uncertainties. Up till now, I am still in doubt. How did you magically just appear and boom, the world is becoming the state it is in now? You tested my patience, my anxiety, my emotions and my struggles. Today officially marks the last day of circuit breaker and the start of phase 1. Looking back at the past month, I wouldn't say that circuit breaker period has allowed me to be more productive or to learn something new. Because honestly the motivation to be productive or to at least pick up a new skill is just not there. I am a really lazy person and if I had the time in the world after my finals to really just laze around and rot, I would definitely choose to potate. I can't seem to find that passion or need to do something productive though I feel shitty for just simply rotting. But it is what it is. This whole month, I completed a few dramas & movies, tried drawing (0.005 progress, never touched it ever since), baked once/twice, packed my room, learnt a few dance choreographies. I guess that's pretty much sums up some of the things I actually did during this period. I really enjoy the comfort of being at home and being with my family members. That is something I truly appreciate a lot. I get to spend a lot more time with my mum and sisters because without you, I would probably spend 70% of my time outside. I usually go out in the morning for school and come home around dinner time or late at night if I have dance. Basically I don't have this luxury to spend time at home with them as much when I have school or dance commitments. I feel ashamed for only appreciating all these little things only when bad things like you really happen. We used to take things for granted and complain about almost anything in the world. But really, just take a look around you, is your life really that bad? Without you, we will never realise how fortunate we are to be able to being stay in the comfort of our own houses 24/7 and the privilege we have of being at home. I feel more for the society I am living in, the need to be compassionate, considerate and understanding. Needless to say, I really really miss the social comforts when we were outside. I miss being around people. I miss the skinship you get when you are with your loved ones and friends outside. I miss being physically present. I miss being able to go out without wearing a mask. I miss taking public transport. I miss going to school. I miss. Because of you, I get to catch up with more friends than I would in real life. With technology, many social communication platforms are made available for us to connect with our loved ones. With just a touch, we can easily ring up our friends from all over. I am glad that I had this opportunity to do things virtually with my close friends, being able to just talk and catch up, watching a movie together, exercising together, watching a drama together, studying together or playing games together. I really appreciate the thought of a call because they could spend their time doing their own things but yeah. It's like "why would someone even think of calling me". I am just glad. Even if its just these few activities, I really do appreciate the presence of someone being there although it kinds of makes me miss the person more. It just feels like being present while not actually being present. That feeling sucks. But I am still thankful. Because of you, I am forced to face my thoughts every single day ever since circuit breaker started. I struggled the worst mental and emotional breakdown during this period. To be honest, up till now, I still don't exactly know the trigger to this mental state I am having. I just feel so lost and empty every now and then, it's just making me sad and want to cry. When I think about my aimless life and how I am missing 'life', it just makes me sadder. Inevitably, I think about those thoughts unconsciously and because I'm at home, no matter what I am doing, the thought just comes. No matter how hard I try to distract myself, it lingers. Sometimes it haunts, which is pretty scary. The feeling of emptiness gets super overwhelming at times, especially when I am alone at night with nothing to do. It's hard to put into words but I am also thankful for you in allowing me to better understand myself slowly. Although it's hard and process is tough, I am slowly (trying) able to breathe more. I am thankful for this chance to be at home and really face my thoughts and try to accept them even if they come as and when and no matter how hard I may crash. It's still a part of me. Though it's no one to blame, I am still thankful for you. Your presence allowed many, including myself, to grow to be a better person. We are now able to understand the struggles and anxieties that others go through that we will never experience ourselves. You brought out the most compassionate and selfless self of people amidst the tough period. You taught me how to not take things and people for granted, learn to let go and live, learn to appreciate your loved ones more. This relationship is tough. I really do wish for you to go away as soon as possible so that we all can return to our normal lives and enjoy being outside. Although the end is blur and bleak, I am sure that we can go through this together. I hope for the world to get well soon. Don't give up hope and faith. ♡

Seah Jin Heng

Student

Dear Covid - 19, You have been the most popular topic in 2020. You knew how unwelcome you are, but you still continue to go around like a boss. You are probably the most traveled one in the world today despite how most travel industries have stopped to operate. You are probably the most influential one who has changed the livelihood of many, destroying lovely families that you certainly should not have! However, because of you, I attended a precious lesson called [Gratitude]. Before you came, our mother Earth's are desperately crying for help that falls on all our deaf ears. We ignore the impact of global warming and climate change, by continuing to consume more than what we need. We continue to pollute the clean air we once enjoyed through mass production and intense transportation. We only care about the growth of our economy, but it took you to make us realize that Economy and the health of our Earth goes hand in hand. We destroyed the home of many animals at an unnerving rate without much hesitation. We kept them in a confined space for our own entertainment. It was you that made them finally able to return to the big space they once belong to, occupying the streets that we thought belonged to us but also them; and for us to experience first hand the feeling of being a confined space for a long period of time. You made me understand that we are interdependent on one another and shared this only livable planet called Earth. Due to the presence of yours, most of us have to coop ourselves at home! It was only now I learned to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life such as the comfort of my home. Thank you for creating the opportunity for me to spend more time with my family - parents and siblings that I once took for granted. We often care and want to spend more time with the people who are far from us, and neglect the ones who truly matter who we see daily and live in close proximity. It was you who brought my parents and I together to watch K - Drama for the first time. It was also you who made us communicate more. It was your presence that made me realise their presence even more. Lastly, me, myself and I! Living in a cosmopolitan city, we are too often bustling day in and day out, living little time for us to slow down to think or even breathe. Looking at the world outside of my cold steel gate, I finally have plenty of time to look inside of myself. Time is now in my favour to sort myself out. I start to focus more on myself and getting to know more about my own strengths and weaknesses. Efforts are now directed in developing myself and doing things I truly loved or always wanted to do such as cooking.

Marcel Yu

Model producer

Dear Covid 19, Even before circuit breaker , we have anticipated this in Feb and having to wfh and stay together with my partner is really not easy. Not wanting to go to public places and only going to work for lesson n casting ... and when movie and ktv n clubs is announce closed, we know we have to stop our model contest . Our suppliers from china is stop. Our design r all on hold. My partner pack up and left... I was all alone for the first time... mum is at sister place to take care of my nephew. The 2 days I was devastated as the loss of a partner n someone to assist u in work n daily life suck as groceries n buying food back when I work. The sports activities and watching of movie at home... is all gone... And staff left as they wanted to go for holiday which I told them it will expand to Europe n it did. Our students and clients r based overseas and especially in Malaysia and they all have their lockdown . CB started... I started to cook n learn ... I took all the gadget up n set up a singing ktv session and participate in my sing together project... The peace was so quiet n suddenly I need to learn to do things all alone... while others have to cope with children n parent all under one roof! Cleaning up is also not easy as Everyday I have to clean on different part of the house . A bird fly to my house n started singing.... n she got me singing ... later I volunteer myself to help in charity and counselling as many came to me for advise and help. But who do I tell my problems to? My godma who is a therapist is also redeploys away n I lost her too. So I set up 3 fb group of which one is mental health being where we share and contribute articles to help ever other . A foodies group where we share hookcook food and lastly my fb page have converted to the source where all important information is provided. Everyone stop talking ... 1000 WhatsApp became 1 or none.. 200 fb pm became none... everything stop.. I wake up everyday praying n watching motivation video and write down a journal... plan my cooking for the day n try to see who I can connect with n check on my friends n some family members .... All holidays r stopped ... we can’t dine out and I someone who dislike to pack food back though I have grab food but I alone now n is not worth to order n so I have to order 3 sets of meals n keep 2 for tomorrow... To cook Everyday is not easy as we can’t be eating the same thing but lots of msg n fried food is cut as I dun handle meats well n oil... so only keep it to steam n boil stuff which make me lost 13 kg since Dec 19. Yes ! Beer is cheap and so I started to drink almost everyday and when it come to day 30... I got sick n tired that I dun feel like drinking anymore ... All volunteer r ask to stop as covid 19 is escalating... my hands n face r so dry with the mask n glove n sanitizer.... n next I see what else I can do.... Business been stop for 3 months...n just when I thought it will take place this year ... I got used to being alone now n I though I m lonely but i didn’t. I self reflected b realised I didn’t set love myself ! I eat whatever I want n to my body n everyone is building their health by exercise. I fall sick a few times n issued SHN .n I jus had enough of this medication n so even more I have to eat n drink healthy... adding fruits .. Building n nurturing my plants... cycle to grab food ... also limit my screen time in tv n social media as eyes r very tired ... using pc, watching tv on YouTube , mobile phone, social media... it’s all screen time ... Started online shopping as I need to get some items which r not available lately ... n also found some Long lost friend n keeping in touch... those positive one n only talk when they r free as everyone is busier than usual with kids n work at home... Having been thru SARS, it was not that bad as it’s fever detected... I took up my degree and driving during that period and now I took up online course on CBT therapist... and some other... Zoom etc and everything went online ... I miss human n talking to human as a outgoing people person , I used to get to talk n meet new people everyday ... n now I m down to me n the bird... Wow! The fb album name after Micheal jackson , you are not alone... that u posted my singing, food and things I do for my friends and engage online ... I found a slogan.. SMILE- it means S- Stay positive M- motivate I- involve L- learning E- engage n encourage I will never forget how covid 19 change my life at age 40... but it taught me a lot . I Ma grateful of what the government did n gave us using our reserve and also having my own reserve for rainy day’s ... but it’s a big storm now... We can dance in the rain but if it’s a storm ... we have to wait n take cover ... Heal the world !

Clare

Teacher

When news of Covid started to spread, I waved it off as a small epidemic that would soon blow over. Now, nobody is laughing. Having been through two months of lockdown, everyone is feeling the strain. Stories of people dying, tempers flaring, produce hoarding... all of these sound very post-apocalyptic. As fear heightens, people's circle of care laser to their immediate family - and this in turn, goes against the spirit of community. I have had my ups and downs, like everyone else. But I choose to remain grateful. Cultivating an attitude of Gratitude gets people through the tough times and make people reassess what's really important in life and what we should treasure when times are good. These are the reasons why I'm grateful to the lockdown. 1. Weight - Achieved the goal I set last birthday. Lockdown has afforded me more time to refine my diet and cook more. This in turn let me drop that last 5kg (now 6!). I've been struggling with this last 5kg for 3 months. All it took was 3 weeks in lockdown. ?? 2. Diet - When I can control my schedule, it was very easy to hit a 16:8 intermittent fast 4x/week. 3. Family - Spent more quality time with mum, increased video calls with brother who's studying in Australia. We don't actually know when we will see him, since Australia has closed down its borders. ? 4. Friends - who reached out when they knew I was down and the messages / calls / gifts they sent. I went through some emotional upheaval, I posted that I was feeling socially disconnected on Instagram. And yes, my friends staggered me with their messages of care and concern. ??‍♀️ 5. Yoga poses unlocked - In my spare time, I was practicing a lot of backbends and maintaining my yoga practice. I managed to get into the full expressions of Camel, side crow, headstand, mermaid and toe stand. Never thought I’d be strong enough for side crow or headstand??‍♀️ 6. Internal state - Managed to take a step back when angry, validate feelings and not react in anger. ? This was something I've been working on - I tend to explode when in anger, and regret much later. 7. Dating - Prioritising emotional intimacy over physical attraction. This was an issue for me prior to lockdown. Whenever I met a guy and we had 'chemistry', it inevitably led me to making stupid decisions and being too free with myself. Being in lockdown and having to build stronger emotional connections by talking and communicating has also made me braver to set boundaries. ? 8. Finances - Saved more money and afforded me time to research and refine my financial goals. ? 9. Happiness - Developed a daily Gratitude journaling habit ? 10. Creativity - Touched the piano for the first time in years. I also explored dancing as a medium of expression. This was one of my regrets, giving up ballet in the past. So I'm glad that I was brave enough to give this a try.

Karyn Liow

Student

Dear COVID-19 You’re real. You’re serious. People are dying, hospitals are overwhelmed because they lack beds, respirators, protective gear, medical staff, things like that. You’re a global pandemic, but somehow there are people around the world who take you lightly. I wonder why. You’ve affected my life in many ways. You cut short my semester. You’ve prevented me from going to the office for my internship, from seeing my colleagues. You prevent me from hanging out with my friends. You withhold me from visiting my grandparents on the weekends. You’ve confined my life to the four corners of my room, where I sit in front of my laptop mulling over internship responsibilities, my undergraduate research project, and the massive open online courses I’ve been taking. The only times I leave these four corners are to have my meals, and even then my meals are brief ones, and I return to shut myself in these four corners once more. Having said that, you’ve also changed my life in many ways. Your presence has made me realise that I’ve taken physical proximity for granted. This realisation has allowed me to reach out to and catch-up with those whom I’ve not connected with for a long time - my secondary school and junior college classmates, for example. Your presence has allowed me to teach my grandparents how to use Google Duo for video calls, and it’s been wonderful to hear my paternal grandmother telling us about her week - watching Channel U shows, cooking different meals, and doing prayer devotions - while my paternal grandfather sits in the background listening intently and chiming in only when my dad speaks in Teochew. Your presence has given me the chance to learn things I didn’t have the time for - R Programming, Python Programming, Microsoft Excel shortcuts, conversational Korean, among other things. They’re going to be useful skills as this new normal takes over the world, a world where the possession of technical and data skills would be useful assets for future career opportunities. Most importantly, your presence has allowed me to be more aware of my mental health. The concept of "burnout" has been foreign to me for quite some time now. I’ve always wanted to accomplish many things to prove that I am equally or more capable than what people perceive me to be. Rest was never an option for me; the only option was to push through whatever came my way, even if it meant sacrificing sleep and quality time with family and friends. Before you came, I thought hyper-productivity would give me a sense of accomplishment and validation from those around me, but deep down, I was distraught and without identity. Your presence has given me the chance to talk to my family and friends about my insecurities and my guilt about not being productive, and these talks have helped ease my worries tremendously. Your presence allowed me to realise that it's okay to take breaks every once in a while. Your presence reminds me that life is not a bed of roses - there are good days and there are bad. You have given me the chance to realise that I'm human and failure is not bad, that failure is normal, that it gives me room for growth. I’ve come to terms with your presence, and I’ve come to terms with who I am. With your presence, my life has slowed down, somewhat. I’ve learnt how to appreciate the things God has given me, and the many opportunities life has provided. Though everything has been a lull and I can’t tell the difference between the weekdays and weekends, it’s been nice to have meals with my family, sitting at the dining table and talking about our experiences in the past week. Your presence has enabled me to grow more as an individual. So thank you for that. Covid-19, I’d like to believe God introduced you to us for a reason. Nevertheless, I do hope you’d leave soon. Coping with the new normal would be difficult, but I’m willing to try. Leave this world with grace. I don’t think the world will miss you, but we’ll look back on the times our pace of life slowed down, where various tourist attractions see wildlife returning and thriving, where we see the earth’s environmental recovery from our actions. I’d just like you to know that you’ve taught humanity quite a lot of things, and we’re more aware of how we should appreciate the things in life more.

Suraj Laxhman

Restaurant Manager

Before I sound like a douchebag and compare what our industry is going through, hats off to all front line personnel From healthcare, to Cisco officers, to Barbers, to food and beverage warriors and to anyone out there toiling to make ever day that much more bearable in one way or another for another human being. Being in one of the hardest hit industries, it puts into perspective a lot of things people take for granted. Food is a language spoken by all without any barriers. And being in that industry exposes you the the nicest people you will ever meet, and some of the nastiest people out there. I love my job. Don’t get me wrong. I love being able to go there extra mile to make sure my guests get the best possible experience. But without human interaction, it becomes a challenge. And that’s what Covid 19 has destroyed, essentially. The lack of touch, the lack of conversations, the lack of hitting someone in the back because their joke is just dumbass stupid. The little things. Just like many, many people out there right now, I’ve taken a pay cut. But that doesn’t stop us from giving you the best we can. Nasty videos appearing online on F&B staff being treated like downright sewer, it’s extremely disheartening, maddening and frustrating. Helpless, too. Never did I stop to think how I would react if it were to happen to me. And then it did. I’ve been asked, explicitly, on the phone by a guest. “ How hard is your job, seriously”. That threw me way off. I felt that helplessness all over again and I found myself just sitting in silence, not knowing how to reply or what would be the right thing to say. Being asked “is this a joke?” when it’s pouring outside, with delivery riders scrambling for shelter, finding all wayd possible to shelter the food more than themselves: resulting in a delay of delivery. Not once did they person stop to ask “will the driver have any difficulty?” or say “it’s okay, I understand the weather is not good right now”. Nope. Instead they ask me if I’m telling them a joke because apparently I’ve become a stand up Comedian because of the rain. So, #dearCovid19, thank you for opening my eyes to the “real” world in a sense. That not all rainbows and butterflies. That being said. This virus has actually allowed me to spend more time at home, something that has been a challenge before. When I get up for work, everyone is out of the house. When I get back, everyone’s asleep. Trying to balance family life, personal life, friends all became a challenge. But I got used to it. Comes with the job, right? But with this (stupid ass) Virus, I’ve found myself home at times when I can have a simple conversation, or dinner, with the family and everything felt surreal. A simple dinner with the family became such a rare commodity for me before, but now it’s here, and a part of me isn’t looking forward to going back to that life. My partner lives 4 hours away, in KL, and I haven’t seen her in months. It really drives an uncomfortable wedge into the relationship, but making it work has been such a motivation, for the both of us, to make sure we survive this virus, and not let it get to us, coming in between of whatever plans we have. So although this virus has destroyed normal semblance of life as we all have come to get comfortable with, let us also remember that this virus has brought out the best in us. So thank you, but fuck you too, Corona.

Indra Gen

Teacher

Dear Covid, When I first heard of you, I wasn't sure how to react. Were you a 2nd, more deadly version of SARS? When SARS first came to Singapore, i was a 14-year old student, excited at having more school holidays whenever we could. However, as time passed, all of us realised that you were more serious and more deadly - you affected schools, families, businesses, the economy, and you pushed us all into our homes into a lockdown that we have termed a Cicuit Breaker. At first, I was not used to what Working from Home meant. I detested the idea of being at home all the time. However, over time, i found that I have grown used to it. More time for relaxing, a more balanced lifestyle, proper mealtimes, an average of about 6 hours of sleep every night. More communication through online platforms like Whatsapp and Zoom Calls. All these have been made possible through the magic of technology. I have come to relish my own personal space and my ability to venture out to exercise, while staying home to do the work that I do, at a pace that I am comfortable with. While Covid, you have definitely caused a major disruption in our lives, you have taught us the meaning of community. To look out for each other beyond that of our families, to put the needs of society above our own. Putting on masks, taking temperatures wherever we go, and 'checking-in' and 'checking-out' for contact tracing - all these are just a few (possibly permanent) changes that we have to adopt. While I thank you for teaching us how to take health precautions more seriously, I wonder, what else are you capable of doing? You have made nature regain its beauty, removed humans from the one thing we are good at - shopping, and brought everyone closer through staying at home and communicating online. Whatever it is, Covid, I am grateful for you, that you have showed us what truly matters in life. To the businesses that have been put away because of you, I pray that they are able to stand back up stronger than before. To the families that have been unable to see each other, may we appreciate each other's presence when social visiting is permitted. May we come to realise that the true meaning of life, is not dependent on what we have, but on who we have, in moments when life seems almost impossible to bear. Thank you Covid, may you grace us with your departure as soon as you see that you have overstayed your welcome, and changed our lives all permanently. May your lessons stay in our hearts, change our priorities, and never have to serve as a reminder again.

Heidi

First time mom-to-be

Dear Covid, I found out I was pregnant a few weeks after I got married on 19th Jan 2020. At that time, I didn’t think you’d become what you are today. My husband and I had plans of having our honeymoon before our big move to the states for his deployment. I sold my cake shop because of that and was well-prepared to leave Singapore with a little baby in tow. Little did we know. As happy as I am being a first time mom, you robbed me of ultrasound scans with my husband. Hospital visits are meant to be exciting & assuring for mummies but it has been scary with you around. You robbed me of parties to welcome my unborn child who is loved by many. Grocery visits are a chore now with the long queues and precautionary measures. You’ve also brought ‘rest’ during this time of pregnancy to a whole new level. Despite that, I can’t help but thank you. Thank you for all that wouldn’t have meaning if you weren’t here. I get to fully experience my baby’s milestones every second of the day - his little flutters to big kicks. The people who love me take time to send me little packages of love. Because of you, I’ve also gained a whole new perspective on operating a business from home. I also have developed a whole new level of respect for delivery guys who worked tirelessly despite the pandemic. Despite having little to no income, I now spend more wisely on things the baby truly needs. I’ve also found joy in working out in the comfort of my own home. Most importantly, because we aren’t able to travel to the states in the time being, you’ve allowed me to spend more time with family and friends. Time I wouldn’t have if you weren’t here. I hope I’ll never experience a pregnancy in such circumstances in my lifetime again but I’ll remember to tell my baby that he was lucky to have brought life in a time of uncertainty and death.

Nathalie Oei

student

Dear Covid-19, You took so many lives and brought panic across the world and just when we thought the best year of our lives was about to begin. It didn’t take long before you were on everyone’s mind and caused us to worry, but we’ve slowly become desensitised to the severity of this situation. Some nights I’d pray for a perfect miracle solution to all these, but you’re not so easy to escape. Though I wish we never met, I’m more grateful that you didn’t hurt anyone I loved and I hope you’ll stop doing so to the millions out there soon. I heard the words “you can do anything you want after A levels are over” a million times as I was studying, and that was perhaps my only motivation to keep going. For a good month after all the gruelling papers, I was really living my best life- travelling with people I love, meeting all my friends to shop and eat and getting an internship in a travel company to fulfil my wanderlust. My anticipated research and planning internship turned into simply helping dejected travellers postpone and cancel their plans, and my unexpected retrenchment gave me an extra 3 months without income as I remained cooped up at home. Suddenly I had all the time in the world in my hands as a blanket of uncertainty wrapped the economy and around many families. It didn’t help that there was a constant online pressure to remain productive despite me having no actual responsibility. As shallow as it sounds while there are people out there struggling to survive, there was an overwhelming amount of disappointment my friends and I could all relate to, after seeing our seniors having so much fun this time of year. We couldn’t wait for our turn in orientation camps, travelling with friends and enjoying the time off studying. We’ve never had 9 full months of holidays before in the last 18 years of school but because of you, everything had to go virtual and so many exciting opportunities were lost so quickly. You turned our cafe dates, outings and house parties into Skype and Zoom calls, home deliveries that cost additional money and now we spend our time together looking at screens instead of each others’ faces. On the flip side, the time spent in isolation has taught me to value things I had taken for granted like real-life interaction, hot food served fresh from restaurant kitchens, spending more time with family, and even sitting on buses and trains without being overly-cautious of someone who coughed (and also, bubble tea). 2020 may have proved to be one of the most difficult years because of your arrival, but I have to constantly remind myself of just how blessed I am to be comfortable in my own home at a time like this. You gave me a much-needed break from the hectic life I was used to, taught me to cope with the thought of being alone after constantly surrounding myself with people, as well as the time to pick up a few new skills I would never have the time to commit to if you hadn’t existed. Although life would be so much better if you just vanished, a part of me believes you were planned by something greater and that you have some sort of purpose for disrupting our lives. A new normal sounds daunting and so much might change from here on, but I hope you’ll leave the world and its people in a better state than before when this all ends.

Greg

Finance

Dear Covid-19, this is to all those who are going through a tough time mentally. We live under an illusion that other people are normal and coping. The fact is, everyone harbours doubts, deviant thoughts/emotions and carries tons of other psychological baggage around like a noose. Some manage to find a fragile balance. Most just hide it really well, others are in denial of their pain and emotional conflicts. The suppression manifests itself in other ways. Some folks are suffering a lot worse. Health professionals prefer/are trained to use a scale to gauge severity and administer meds and prescribe therapy in accordance to that scale. My personal experience is that it works to varying degrees. What does lift some of that fog is knowing that there are other people outside your door that have experienced the depth that you have plunged. That even when you feel most alone and vulnerable, there is someone out there who's been in the same spot. Take a breath, just live one minute at a time. One hour. One day. Even if the situation doesn't change, the brain chemistry certainly will, and any change is welcome. If conditions allow, I recommend going for walks alone. Try it without music. I've 'graduated' to running. Used to really HATE running. Now I run everyday. Started out as a form of self punishment of sorts, just to take my mind off things. I don't know about the 'runner's high' because the description didn't fit my definition of 'high' but more of a sort of meditation. I run to a point I only focus on my breathing, my foot falls...listening to my breathing helps to filter out the world, random thoughts flow in and out. At the end of runs, nothing in my life changed. But the effort, the exhaustion and the meditation helps me frame things in a more comfortable perspective. Keep breathing. One day at a time. Before we know it, this will be all over.

Rachel

Student Researcher

I sometimes find myself thinking about when it all began, how abruptly Covid-19 somehow came into existence, and how the situation escalated. Everyday, I watch and read the news and I muse about how this virus has brought out the true colors of many people - be it leaders or regular citizens. This pandemic has disrupted our lives, one way or another. We're all frustrated, at least to some extent. All the pent-up anger and stress... There was no outlet. Many of us have different ways of coping with stress and anxieties but our access to these resources have been cut off. Some try to keep it together before they lose it and snap at their loved ones. It breaks my heart to know that there are people out there who are losing themselves during this period and that those around them are unable to help them. I keep a little digital diary to "pen down" my thoughts and feelings. I worry for my family, i worry for my grandparents, I worry for my partner and his family... I also worry about my thesis, my research, my future career... Oh and what about the little "conflicts" that I face every other day? How do I deal with them? I get so annoyed but how do I fix them? The list goes on... Before Covid-19, we've all dealt with some of these anxieties but during this period, these feelings peak and it becomes harder to deal with them. The weight of these problems become much heavier and harder to bear. As we head towards a "new normal", we know it's not gonna be any easier. I just hope that everyone cares, not just for their own physical health, but for their mental wellness as well. Pen down your thoughts. Talk to someone, anyone. Find some ways to express yourself freely, but also safely. And, most importantly, treasure those around you. Stay safe.

Naomi Toh

Counsellor

Dear COVID-19, I have such mixed feelings about you. I wish you could dissipate as swiftly as you came into this world but at the same time, you came to illuminate darkness and you revealed them in the rawest forms possible. The fear gripped the world and the anxiety that chained many down was propelled by you. You highlighted many social issues which would have otherwise remained hidden and silent. I don’t really know how I should feel about you but I trust that you came at the right time in the right season. You swept into our lives without much warning. You brought along disturbing uncertainty and where there is uncertainty, there is room for mistrust to breed. You completely messed up our boundaries, be it physical or emotional ones. You robbed our sense of control and demanded for us to relearn and rethink our habits. You were like an alarm that blared into the silence and raided our safe space. You whispered your own announcement and embarked on your merciless journey throughout the world. While there is deep pain and suffering; sorrow and grief that is overwhelming this world, my heart is full with hope and love as I have witnessed the kindness and goodness that has overflowed from many in this season. For once, I am no longer stingy with my grip on money. As I learnt to give of love, I received so much more than I could even imagine. I found new ways of connecting and reaching out. I started off 2020 thinking that this year will be the year of renewal but it has turned out to be a year of rededication and breakthrough in many areas of my life. While you chose to be destructive and disruptive, I have learnt new ways of managing you. I have learnt to draw closer to my family, my husband and my clinical work. I have learnt to draw closer to humans. On a daily basis, I am close to grief, sorrow and death as I lend my ears and heart to my clients. It breaks my heart when I hear of stories that are unimaginable and shakes my inner core deeply. While you lack mercy, we showed mercy to ourselves and to others. Hope never left and is always in the midst as I heard the voices of strength, courage and so much grit in these same stories shared with me. Someone said this recently, “Do not confuse my bad days as my weakness. Those are actually the days I am fighting my hardest.” We judge so ever often. I judge in my conscious and subconscious mind. In this season, I have learnt what it means to be vulnerable, to dig deep in conversations with my friends and to revive my heart for the younger generation. As I step into thirties, I am accompanied with your remnants but it’s a strange feeling…I’m glad you came as along with you, faith, hope and love came in full force. And I’m sorry to say to you, there’s no way you can stop these three things as they will remain long after you depart. And the greatest of all is love. You have changed me from within. Thanks for the ride, Naomi #DearCovid19SG

Moe Moe

Teacher

Dear COVID-19 Who are you, really?  I know you’ve become a household name internationally within a few months; winning the most accolades of sorts on a global scale – from the deadliest lethal contagion to the kindest acts of humanity; juxtaposition don’t you think? But I’m quite intrigued to reveal the real “you”. What’s your intention? Why have you suddenly appeared at a time when I had just started the new year afresh, excited about the new term, seeing my colleagues again, going back to work after a month-long school break? Right, so whether I approve or not, you’re destined to be a part of my life till a vaccine is found, am I correct? Well, I’ve been compelled like many others, I hope, to adhere to the strict guidelines set by the authorities for the sake of protecting mankind. I’m serious. What kind of a joke is this? Never have I thought I’d be living a science fiction “Contagion” movie. And by the way, coincidentally, I had just watched that movie before the circuit breaker. It must have been a premonition. Anyway, so here I am in my 7th week of the circuit breaker, feeling totally debilitated and “Zoomed” out. When I learned that all my classes were going online, very soon, not tomorrow or next week but “yesterday” metaphorically, I felt like you had infected me... yes you, the infamous coronavirus. The sleepless nights just kept rising like the number of cases reported daily. Having had only minimal online Zoom training before my actual teaching, it seemed a “do” or “die” moment for me, overwhelmed by the technicalities of using Zoom as an online tool for teaching. I remember vividly my very first lesson, as I was one of the pioneer teachers to go “live” using a colleague’s office laptop. I thought I had suffered a ruptured aneurysm when suddenly my mind went blank after practising all the functionalities of Zoom endlessly that day. However, with the immense support and encouragement from my colleagues and peers, all playing their roles as managers, senior teachers, teachers or just friends, I was able to pull through my first Zoom lesson successfully without any major hiccup whilst still meeting the lesson’s objectives. Wasn’t that amazing for a baby boomer? Soon after the lesson had finished, a gush of adrenaline rushed through my entire body as I bounced back to my desk, feeling I had reached the summit of Mt. Everest. I guess it’s the “can do” mindset that gave me the courage to continue challenging myself against all odds every day with Zoom to deliver, plan, teach, contribute and function digitally since the beginning of April 2020. It has been no easy feat, COVID-19, however, I do thank you for that steep learning curve given to me like a hammer and tongs. Apart from coping with Zoom, now that it’s entered my home without any invitation whatsoever, I’ve been tasked to care for my elderly father who’s a healthy, high- maintenance 83-year-old, needing everything and anything under the sun. Jokingly but seriously, I even told my father he must be COVID-20. So kudos to all the nursing home health care workers looking after the elderly at this time, it’s extremely challenging. So it’s been almost 2 months now sharing space with my father, my husband, and my son, cooking, cleaning and preparing meals. Of course there were times when I wanted to call it quits whilst teaching and caring for my father, but it was the innate duty of being a daughter, and my love for cooking that kept me sane. Likewise, the profound benefits of Vipassana meditation, which I’ve been practising for several years, have been my pillar of strength to help me overcome the current situation you’ve created, COVID-19. Without this practice of self-realisation and acceptance, I wouldn’t have been able to survive mentally. It’s probably karma testing my resilience, tolerance, and patience to the max. There have been some blissful moments too, just watching my delicious food simmering from the pots and pans. I must admit that I’ve taken a picture of every single dish that I’ve cooked from day 1 of the circuit breaker, feeling proud of my creations. After a long day of work, I would stroll across the block to the nearest supermarket to buy groceries, snacks, and junk food; feeling liberated walking alone on an empty road. This has been my outlet, joyously carrying home a tub of chocolate chip ice cream. Despite your vicious attacks committed towards millions of innocent people across the world, you’ve proven or endorsed the importance of “connection” for humanity to fully survive and thrive at their best. This was evidenced in all my online classes from preschool, primary to secondary students. I could sense that they were eager and excited to see me even if on-screen, regardless of the intermittent connection. Hence, it was more critical for me as a teacher to listen more intently, to check in on how each student was coping, and to allow those moments of sharing their pet dog or cat, etc. As I reflect on these subtle but pivotal aspects of teaching, it became glaring how educational psychology will play an essential role for teaching in the new normal. Equally, COVID-19, though every professional talks about compassion and empathy, you’ve made these words come to life in a completely involuntary manner for students to achieve authentic learning, especially while you’re still lingering out there. Might this be one of your intentions? COVID-19, you’re cataclysmic, you’re novel, you’re deadly, you’re contagious, yet humanity and Mother Earth have shown unprecedented signs of inspiration and re-growth as the world unites in the race to find a cure. And it’s my hope that it’s sooner than later for everyone’s sake. Having witnessed immense unity amongst different people, generosity of immaculate intensity, unbelievable acts of kindness as well as patches of irresponsible behaviours, I’ve become more and more curious about you.  You’ve brought this upon us with a force like no other. So what’s your true intention, and who are you, really? 

Agnes Eng

Flight Attendant

Tokyo, London, Russia, Paris, Melbourne, New York City, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Bombay - the list goes on. And that was my iife before you. Dear Covid-19, You have caught me off guard. The nature of my job led me to be away from home most of the time and you helped me make up for the lost time with family and friends, so thank you. Being at home these months has reflected several things in my family. Although we are a close-knitted one, it feels like i was never really there for the past year and a half. Roster after roster, country after country. You made me realized the food prepared by my mother before my flights were never bought by me. The thick coats and warmers i wore in Russia were never washed by me but they "magically" became ready for my next adventure. Mother's back ache became so painful yet I did not know until it became better because I was probably in London having my scones and English tea. She just wants me to have fun and not worry about her. These, broke my heart. But you came along and changed everything. Now, i partake in the weekly grocery runs and finally experienced the pain of lugging Meiji's 2L fresh milk and yet having to protect the 10 farm fresh eggs. I still don't do the laundry though hahaha. But i managed to massage my mother's back in hopes to soothe her pain. Now, I have the opportunity to spend 24 hours a day with them and we have our daily 4km walk around the neighbourhood. Dinner on the dining table now happens 7 times a week with full attendace and conversations with my sister goes beyond wee hours of the morning. I could not have done these things before you, but you made it possible now, so thank you. But now, my livelihood is taking one big hiatus. 3 months since my last flight to Germany and the standbys which I usually pray for to be removed is my current silver lining. Funny how things have took a turn because of you. I can barely remember my primary duties when I board the plane and the way i navigate through the nozzle-like aircraft. I miss working around the galley and also tidying up the sometimes disastrous lavatories. I miss sharing life stories with colleagues for 10 hours straight and attending to passengers with the peculiar requests. I miss having breakfast for dinner and embracing the worst sleep schedules. I miss the travel experience and of course, I miss donning on the kebaya, my pride and joy. It is because of you that I have come to seek a deeper connection with my family, to appreciate the joy and tribulations of my job and to reflect upon the fragility of life. Thank you for showing me all of these within a short period of time. In the meantime, I live each day with optimism and hopefulness marching towards a day when my family outing is back at VivoCity and I am 35,000 feet above the ground again.

Natalie Tan

Student

Dusk turns into dawn which breaks and the day starts. Dawn arrives and it’s time for darkness, the last bits of twilight are accompanied with the departure of a few birds, across the sky. We awake to a world that’s seemingly quiet and peaceful now that the rule book of life: Singapore edition has a new version that sets volume to a default 20%. Regimented, very, with also a stipulated breathing space. Spaces. Now those are spatial, to be used carefully. No longer social. Keep the meaning of them in your heart, remember and savour the times. Things are different and that’s how it’s like from now on. Again, spatial. As we try to fix bent and distorted pipes to form a complete, functioning circuit, some parts will stick out and hurt like a sore joint. Some will meld with and into others perfectly and work as symphonies. It’s as clean as it gets, with a common, silent consensus that your expectation of how this picture of society looks like – that’s of the past that is in the process of being accepted and adapted to. We continue moulding, things and ourselves. Previously there was erupted and uncontrolled anger spewing everywhere, onto windows, people, into corners, roads, shelves of NTUC, stomped-upon vegetables.. I’d like to imagine it as the more updated version of half-assed cigarette butts lying limply in random spots (probably bc someone reminded them will kena, prohibited la.. ‘tsk ok fine’) and a plastic cup beside the filled dustbin that contains the voice of its sluggish owner, saying ‘I don’t give a f***’. Anger had the upper hand when the deep gash of this pandemic was a raw wound. Screams of pain was what’s needed to treat it and .. in this long run I think it’s starting to heal, manifested in the form of new skin (that still looks like pink flesh) and scabs (of course there are remnants of everything too but we don’t expand them ok). Maybe with this dark protrusion that may be a tad overtly blatant, our society’s spelling out hope. Hope is in the filled shelves, the picking up and rearranging after a stampede into what looks like a super market. It is in the eyes and walk of every person behind a mask in the environment that smells like sanitiser and sounds like medical terms and the beeping of machines. It’s in the breath of every individual lying on the bed, and the prayers of their loved ones. It’s in everything we say and do not, and whatever that lies in the liminal spaces, the in betweens. In every tear and cheer, breath and ache. I think it’s also in our eyes, seen through different lenses and hovers around every action and intention. It’s in the sound of the footsteps of a parent/sibling/grandparent/child, who is also an essential worker, leaving the house, for some early as daybreak. It’s in the sigh of trials and tribulations that cascaded from the mighty Covid waterfall, and the outbursts, screaming, fights and tears. It’s not all the happy stuff that sheds light. I read somewhere that broken glass lets light in, so maybe a broken window, the aftermath of a fight, is enough to tell one that you deserve more than the enveloping view of asphalts and greys. The first streaks of light will blind and upset you, shove the stark contrast between the world outside and yours – in your face, but maybe, light is there for everyone. In different ways of arrival, shadow shapes and sizes, blinding-intensity. Some take longer than others, some are harder to come by, don’t judge or censure. I pray that in every plane and corner of the world, your window will be opened. When the sunlight comes, an elixir after so many black hours – the storm that rages will pass (this isn’t a trivialization or invalidation of whatever’s happening in the world right now, it’s a conviction I’d like to hold.) Loneliness exists in many forms – sometimes a nebulous shadow lurking in the dark and plastered to your walls, but before you sink (back) into solitude, maybe there will be a flicker that tells you, that one day it won’t be just you. Your dusk might be someone’s dawn, that’s okay because your light can look a little different from mine.