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I have moved on, have you?

21 May 2020 / 08:10 H.

AS the “new norm” sets in, I watch with interest the responses of Malaysians and the people of the world. Income aside, I happen to be quite comfortable experiencing the conditional movement control order (CMCO). The biggest plus for me is not having to drive anywhere much, because people who know me, know how much I loathe Klang Valley traffic.

On the other hand, we watch through the lenses of social media, the reactions of people in other countries. We see protests in the West, where most of the protesters say that the Covid-19 pandemic is a conspiracy for the elite to take control of people; telling them where to go, what to do, and how to live.

While most people scratch their heads over this, I do recall Malaysians doing the same thing when the MCO was announced in March. Friends used to message me and ask me out for drinks, and I responded with incredulity. They’d go on, saying, “Nothing what? It’s just restriction of movement, not forced to stay home if you don’t want to.”

Even in April, apparently some of my acquaintances continued with the “Nothing what!” attitude, driving wherever they wanted to, not wearing masks, all because their work gave them the excuse to ronda-ronda wherever and whenever they pleased.

Discussing this with my flatmate, he said that this was a sign that these people were grieving for the loss of their way of life due to the pandemic. I had plenty of time to ponder on this, as I trudged up and down the apartment stairs for exercise.

The first sign of grieving is denial. And I guess those people with the “Nothing what!” kind of attitude are experiencing this. The MCO and CMCO is nothing, they can do what they want whenever they want to and people who point out how irresponsible their behaviour is are stupid.

Before, we had practically unfettered freedom of movement. But during the strictest portions of the MCO, the police even stopped by our apartment building to ensure that residents were truly staying inside their homes. That kind of restriction of freedom is something my generation has never experienced! So there is denial. This cannot be happening. The MCO is nothing what!

The next stage of grieving is anger. We can see signs of this wherever we see the conspiracy theories popping up. Bill Gates wants to control us: China wants to colonise the world through economic takeovers; the government wants to restrict our freedom; the examples are endless all over the internet.

The anger and outrage has caused protests and even riots in other countries. If you do a Google search on “how many anti-Covid protests”, you’ll find that there is a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to this, with countries ranging from Kenya to Iraq, France to the UK, and of course the US.

The next stage of grieving is bargaining. The only person I know who experienced this (past tense) was me because my mobile phone and computer broke down within a week of the MCO. “If only they’d open up the shops for two weeks so I can get everything fixed!” I would think with a sigh. Well, that’s all sorted now since the CMCO, so I have moved on. But I can imagine many other people have little negotiations in their mind regarding our new norm.

Then there is depression, and I think it’s a given that many people may actually become clinically depressed because of the pandemic and the resulting MCOs and lockdowns. In India, suicide led to more than 300 non-coronavirus deaths because of the lockdown.

Finally, there is acceptance. I’m not sure how many people are in this stage, as I’m not sure what stage I’m in anymore. I like the life I lead, but I would also like to earn at least close to what I used to before the MCO.

I think the important thing is to have a little self-reflection during this time. Rather than being dragged by a tide of anger or sadness, I hope everyone spends a little time trying to understand how they feel. And perhaps from there, we can all move forward, because I suspect this “new norm” will be just “norm” in the near future.

Daniel is passionate about fitness, yoga and writing. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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