With the eve of the Chinese New Year just days away, let me wish you a quiet but happy and prosperous Chinese New Year.
By this time, most of you who are celebrating the biggest festival in the Chinese calendar will have your house spick and span. You have bought all the food and drinks and got your new curtains and tablecloths ready. Some of you would have repainted your house.
Never mind that this Chinese New Year is unique and celebrated with the Covid-19 virus still lurking around and ready to claim more victims if we all let our guard down and ignore the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to contain its spread.
Because large-scale gatherings and celebrations can send Covid-19 cases spiralling, the Malaysian government has restricted Chinese New Year reunion dinners and prayers to family members living in the same house.
This is part of the SOPs for the Chinese New Year celebrations drawn up by the National Security Council for states under the movement control order (MCO).
House-to house visits and cross-border travel are not allowed.
For those celebrating Chinese New Year in Sarawak, parts of which are under conditional MCO (CMCO), the state government is expected to make an announcement on the matter.
Chinese all over the world welcome the Chinese New Year or the Lunar Year of the Metal Ox on Feb 12.
Some Malaysians are unhappy with the SOPs which limit reunion dinners and visits to those living in the same house.
This is because the reunion dinner on the eve of the festival traditionally comes with big feasts attended by all family members far and near.
Personally, I think it is better to obey the SOPs instead of regretting later on. After a quiet but happy and prosperous Chinese New Year this year, we can all have a loud, noisy, happy, and prosperous Chinese New Year hopefully next year and in many more years to come.
How can we have a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year when many family members cannot come home or join us for the reunion dinner, some of you may ask?
As I have said before in my previous column, desperate times call for desperate measures. Those of you who are IT-savvy please install Zoom or other apps that will enable your aunties, uncles, grandparents or parents to talk to family members who cannot come home this Chinese New Year.
Recently, my niece, Ah Hong, made it possible for my elder sister, Moi, my younger sister, Lan and I to make group video calls. Lan, who lives in Johor, and I had had much difficulty in contacting Moi, who lives in Bintulu, for the past one year. We wondered how she was getting on and whether she was well. We knew that the MCO had also affected her badly; she used to sell cakes and snacks to make a living.
Lan and I talk to each other daily. We yearned to see our elder sister’s face and hear her voice again. When we were young, Moi was the prettiest among the girls in the family. When we caught up with her again, Ah Lan was shocked. Moi had neglected her look and did not even bother to dye her hair.
The next night, after repeated appeals from Ah Lan to dye her hair, our elder sister looked good again. Now, she looks forward to the daily video calls. Ever naughty at heart, Lan likes to poke fun at Moi and make her laugh, thanks to WhatsApp video calls which ensure my sisters and I stay connected and happy every day.
I hope those of you who are IT savvy will help make this Chinese New Year happy and prosperous for your elders with the latest technology.
This Chinese New Year will certainly be a quiet one for me. All the birds in this house have flown from the nest — in search of greener pastures elsewhere. If not for my niece, who came home a few months ago from Johor, there would only be my mum and me.
I am looking forward to a quiet rest, catching up on my reading and favourite YouTube channels.