The New Normal
23 January 2020, the first case of the new coronavirus disease reaches Singapore soil. Every local begins to realise this virus involves everyone now. Schools and workplaces encouraged safe distancing and continuous hand washing to narrow chances of contact and spread among the population. Having just started junior college, I felt unease knowing how much of my orientation was sacrificed because of this new virus. It could not get any worse, right?
7 April 2020, the circuit breaker commences across all of Singapore. Migrant workers’ infections skyrocketed every day, news regularly updating the number of local and migrant workers COVID-positive cases daily. Schools and workplaces are shut down. Restaurants and hawker centres deserted due to no dining-in . Work from home becomes the new way of life for many of us. As if I was not struggling enough with junior college workload, now I have to make home my classroom? Endless Zoom calls and Google Meets, avoiding the fridge to not snack, doing my best to stay motivated through it all.
2 June 2020, schools reopen again. A new haircut and a longing for a reunion with my friends, I had never been so excited to go to school in my life. Spending Eid ul-Fitr at home the week before was bittersweet. A simple Zoom call with the whole family, sending our heartfelt salam to our elders and cousins. It would probably be the first and last time I would play Sahibba, the Malay version of Scrabble, with my family ever again. The ecstasy to return to school was short lived unfortunately as my first exam for junior college was in two weeks. As expected, it did not go well.
28 December 2020, Phase 3 begins. Eight people can congregate and dine together now. Restrictions to shopping malls, public areas, and places of worship such as the mosque are eased. I met my secondary school friends after a gruelling year of getting used to the new normal. Goodbye 2020, you have been a hectic year for everyone.
4 June 2021, my first COVID-19 jab. After a tiring six months since undergoing provisional promotional examinations and pulling through for all the various tests and homework and extracurricular activities, it felt quite surreal to finally receive the vaccine for the virus that had turned our world upside down for so long. Juggling junior college and COVID-19 at the same time has been the toughest test which He has given me in this life so far. The amount of stress I have had to endure during circuit breaker, the late nights where I would continue drawing graphs, waking up at 5 a.m. every day to do sunnah prayers. Time during COVID-19 was too slow and too fast.
3 May 2022, in-person Hari Raya prayers after two years of not having it. The atmosphere of Al-Ansar Mosque felt so heart-warming to enter. Seeing everyone pray together side by side without having to be curtailed by social distance. Hearing the Hari Raya khutbah (sermon) in person afterwards, smiling at all the Malay aunties, and donating to the mosque. No more limits to how many people are allowed to visit relatives' homes. Meeting my aunts and uncles, second cousins who grew 10 cm within the two years I did not see them. Everyone was shocked to hear that I am already going to university in three months. The things which were regular before the pandemic became a new norm to get used to again. Whether it was not wearing the mask everywhere you go, being in crowds again, or even just receiving Hari Raya packets after a very long time. This was the new normal for everyone. I was grateful that we all went through our own respective trials and tests to see it.
17 May 2022, I am COVID-19 positive. Well, most of it was normal.