The Jakarta Post
Jl. Sudirman, which is usually jammed with traffic, lies empty as Jakartans have retreated into self-isolation to curb the spread of COVID-19. (JP/Riand Alfiandy)
COVID-19 has captured the world’s attention.
When President Jokowi suggested to stay put at home, I heeded and placed myself under voluntary lockdown. Given all the pollution and dirt in Jakarta, my friend told me not to get scared, because our immune system was good, but I said to myself, better safe than sorry.
I followed everyone’s tip to “stay inside, don’t touch your face, nose or mouth.”
At this point, I was scared to sneeze inside the house, because my family members would come out from their rooms to check who had sneezed.
Even though I was at home, my fear escalated.
First, I cursed whoever invented WhatsApp, because every five minutes someone was lecturing me on what the corona virus was all about and what should be done.
Yes, drink vitamin C and D. Have your flu shots. On and on my different group chats posted the same messages. Not to mention the audio recordings and videos.
My stress level and fear slowly increased after reading all those messages. I decided to keep my phone in lockdown, too.
On the first day of self-lockdown, I looked at the walls and realized how lucky I was to even have walls and a roof.
I had a house with space to at least walk around and hide. Many don’t even have a proper house to live in. Some couples live in small homes and I just can imagine what might happen to them after living too close to each other if they decided to stay home, especially when they have been married for a minimum of ten years.
I am thankful I am married and staying with my husband, because imagine those couples who are just dating and live separately. They have to make do with Facetime or Skype in their self-lockdown. Otherwise they only have the option of blowing kisses from their balconies or windows – if they happen to live across from each other. Maybe they can send paper notes using drones.
In my self-lockdown, I thanked the universe for my food, even if sugar is now rationed in many supermarkets.
Some might not even have food to eat.
People in other countries cannot even find bread and meat in their local supermarkets, and yet here we have our tukang sayur (mobile vegetable sellers) still ready to brave the virus and deliver their vegetables.
Also, in family lockdown, my bored young-adult kids found time to play cards with me. Their laughter rang in my ears as I managed to win six games. Because they opted to stay home, their “friends first” attitude has turned finally into “give time to your folks”, even if it is temporary. I even started to give more time to my mother, who lives thousands of miles away from me.
My self-lockdown gave me time to open my closet and remove things I never use yet had kept for years.
I realized there were items that are older than my youngest child. I gave them to someone who can enjoy looking at it.
I thank the universe, because these days I have the time to sit outside my patio and look at the sky and the trees just to inhale a different kind of air.
Now, I have the time to just sit or lie down on the bed without feeling guilty. Now I have the time to follow my passion for baking, which I couldn’t do earlier because of a busy lifestyle.
COVID-19 binds all of us together.
We learn to be compassionate and realize that no-one is spared. Look at all of us, we are even joining hands, putting aside race and religion to help heal those infected and halt the advancement of COVID-19.
I thank the universe for bringing the health experts to life, because for me, they are the heroes of the world. The doctors, experts and nurses are continuously asking us to stay at home, despite the fact that some of them are in the hospitals 24/7 taking care of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Some of them have been infected and died. They are people who have prioritized strangers, leaving their own families for the sick, risking their own lives.
Is the virus revenge from nature or is it just God reminding us we are all the same in his eyes?
Staying at home might be boring for many of us, but it can have its good moments. Sometimes, we just need to be us. It is high time we let the world be, and just sit, and find ourselves, inside of us, so we can learn to be grateful.
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