At 8pm this evening, people came to their balconies, windows, driveways and front doors to cheer, clap, whistle, sing and bang on pots and pans to salute the medical personnel, cleaning crews, grocery store stockers, clear-headed decision makers and everyone fighting this unseen enemy. It was amazing.
Many of us are in lockdown and coping with our new normal. Many of us want to do something, anything, to make things better for our countrymen who are working while we’re safe at home.
My heart is heavy with sorrow for the victims, their families and the tireless fighters. My throat is thick each time the news reports an increased figure in the statistics.
So I am thankful for this moment of solidarity this evening.
It was just a small gesture that carried a huge message of support. It was something we could do.
So perhaps what happened fhis evening wasn’t exactly kindness. It is certainly not unique, having taken place all over the world. It is a small wave of gratitude and thanks, a mere drop in the sea of sacrifice, vigilance and commitment for the fierce frontliners in the Covid-19 fight.
When Covid-19 hit, there were tales of Asians being insulted, ostracised, spat at, beaten, screeched at to “Get the #@$ out of my country!”
Then came the pictures of shopkeepers who placed posters across their doors, refusing service to “foreigners”.
Now that this virus has spread even further, and the patients are no longer just Asians, is it wrong to take a few moments to snort at the latest online videos?
The classic is the one where an Asian man steps into a restaurant, a lift and a gym, and coughs; the folks flee faster than The Flash. The man is an actor with a message. But behind the snarky storytelling lies a sad reality.
My child called home last week to say an Asian friend was in a fairly crowded train, heading from Oxford to London. He coughed because his throat was ticklish – you know, the sort of ticklish that a sip of water will take care of.
What happened was this: the carriage emptied. Every single person packed his or her things and left. The young Asian didn’t know whether to sob (“It kinda hurt!”) or celebrate (“I got the whole place to myself – beats even First Class.”)
I’d say the virus isn’t what’s viral. How we’re responding is. And while it’s understandable, it’s still sad.
With the novel coronavirus rampaging away in ever expanding parts of the globe, it is hard to imagine folks bothering about anyone else.
We’ve read or heard stories about skirmishes over the last box of surgical masks, pet dogs and cats abandoned and forsaken, Asians insulted and spat on just because they were assumed to be virus carrying Chinese. Then there’s the manic buying of groceries and sanitizer that left supermarket shelves bare. And the snaking queues to buy masks.
It’s sad but not unexpected, I suppose, to behave as if there’s tomorrow so you can be a totally selfish being today; the daily increase of infection numbers and deaths do nothing to calm the anxieties and panic gripping so many countries.
I don’t know if the outbreak has peaked or if the worst is impending. But I know there is truth in the old saying that true character will be revealed in trying times.
Stories have emerged of quiet heroes who have donated masks and sanitisers to those who need them more. Youths who have set up collection points to collect these donations and deliver them.
Anonymous big-hearted people have tied bottles of sanitisers to lifts with messages of encouragement to share and take care of each other. Even more heart warming are the scribbles of thanks.
So, thank you, all of you, whoever you are. You could have hoarded your supplies but you chose to share them with your communities. Your kindness and generosity will be remembered.