In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path – the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.

– Amit Ray, author

I am currently back in my dear hometown of Kuching for a little peace and quiet. It’s always nice to be home, only that this time, I have returned to a “new normal”.

I have been in Kuching for almost a month now. The first two weeks from July 2-16 were okay — like the “old normal”. Then came the devastating report of new Covid-19 clusters being uncovered and more than 20 confirmed cases detected in the third week.

Finally, on July 25, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced that Kuching has been categorised as a red zone, after 41 Covid-19 cases have been detected as at noon that Saturday, with the majority in Sarawak.

However, Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas later explained that Kuching was still a yellow zone.

Yellow or red, I could sense that Kuchingites were worried and concerned.

Understandably so, as we should all be because we are now up against an invisible enemy with no vaccine in sight.

Covid-19 has also been described as the most deadly health pandemic to confront the human race. That is akin to a weapon of mass destruction which superpowers have pledged to dismantle but continue to build on the sly.

Covid-19 could be more destructive and deadlier than any WMD.

Hence, to worry and feel unease is natural. However, to panic at every negative announcement about the pandemic and live in constant fear of an invisible ‘enemy’ isn’t living. That makes life miserable, to me at least.

I think we should not allow the virus to control our lives. We must not become prisoners of Covid-19.

We should try to get on with life with as much normalcy as possible, although we have been told to adjust to a “new normal”.

A new normal does not mean that we have to live in constant fear of getting infected and succumbing to the disease.

Yes, we need to be disciplined, adhere to SOP guidelines, practise personal hygiene, watch our diet, do our exercise, don’t go out or travel unnecessarily.

But do not be too kiasi and panic everyday just because Kuching is now a hot spot. While we should not take unnecessary risks, neither should we be unduly fearful of the unknown. (To the kiasi, be advised to stay away from horror movies over this period.)

I feel that at times, it is our brains playing havoc on us. We should not allow the constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear to overcome us.

In fact, we should also worry that such excessive anxiety can be translated into a mental disorder if it prevents us from stepping out of our home, talk to others and view everyone else with suspicion as if they are Covid-19 carriers.

For example, if I were gardening at home and dare not even talk to my next-door neighbour 10 feet away on the other side of the fence, then I must be suffering from an anxiety disorder. It would be real if I view all those within my sight as possible virus carriers.

The other evening, I craved beef noodles which I have not taken for a long time. I drove to the Open Air Market for a takeaway. Another time, I wanted kacang cendol. Off I went that afternoon for another takeaway.

Now, is that taking unnecessary risks? Of course, we can argue that I could
easily do without the beef noodles or kacang cendol. My point is — I refuse to allow an invisible enemy to take control of my life and imprison me.

Last week, I went out for dinner twice with some friends. All of us dutifully signed in and took our temperature as required at the entrance, wore masks and practise social distancing.

Was going out for dinner at the restaurant a real necessity or an emergency? No, it wasn’t. Again, I decided to join my friends. Why? For some sanity. I will not allow myself to be a prisoner of a virus and I am determined to live life as normal as possible, even under a “new normal”.

Why allow a virus to turn our lives upside down? Just take the necessary precaution. No need to overact. When our time is up, it’s up. No virus, visible or invisible, will make any difference.

Life is still worth living, folks. And more worth living without being unduly anxious and fearful of the unknown.

May the Heavenly One shelter us from all adversities.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach him at tribunenew2019@gmail.com