DECEMBER 31 — Talk about a misleading promo. How stupidly, exactly a year ago, you and I stood in our living rooms or large convention centres to usher in this torturous year which ends tonight. Twenty followed by a twenty. 2020. Beautiful. An obsessive compulsive’s wet dream of symmetrical perfection.
Clinked glasses with optimism. Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be, will be.
How could it go wrong when it sounds so sweet?
The stink exploded full force with debris still in projectile mode. Watch out, even on the last. Fulfilling what seems an inevitable destiny in hindsight. After all, hindsight is 2020.
So naturally, today, sombre can’t quite capture the feeling.
But the early confession, I’m outing myself here, the column does not answer the origin or demise of Covid-19, or provide tips on how to ride this mess out. You are on your own, unfortunately.
Back to capturing the feel of the infuriating year.
The way New Year’s Eve is expected to be celebrated observed tells it best.
Home parties — arrange a counting station outside your front door to limit attendees who then wave to each other when the clock strikes 12 from socially distanced spots. The cry “do not share cups” is made by all, not just a finicky aunt.
Out to party — don’t linger in the bar too long as staff members have to shutter the outlet before midnight. The crowds are forced to toast the countdown by Kuala Lumpur’s streets while waiting for cabs. Talk about anti-climax. Lionel Ritchie’s long-defiled “All Night Long” video looks like a pagan hedonic feast in comparison. Lionel looks like a pagan god.
While nightlife employees loathe being overworked over the holidays, they are comforted by the economics of being gainfully employed. Not so this year. Five-star hotels offer home cleaning services, that’s how bad it got.
Of course it is not the end of the world. But 2020 represents the worst and millions if not billions speak ill of the year and then tweet, post, blog, vlog or scream from rooftops about how they won’t miss the end of it.
Not enough can be written about 2020 and how we all have had enough of it.
It’s literally the one thing that does not divide opinions, the global repulsion of this particular year.
Every now and then there’ll be years which underwhelm, and those years duly take a lot of stick. But they end, and another arrives and perhaps things get better, or maybe they do in a couple of years. In the moment, or in memory the years seem awful in retrospect. Yet, the bitter taste recedes.
But 2020 sets a new standard of overall, unqualified, worldwide and unparalleled suckiness. This one took a planet hostage.
Unperturbed by being reviled, 2020 sits quietly all by itself, perched up to stare down at the mayhem it’s inflicted.
It’s probably par for the course to be punched in the face if one defends 2020 a bit too assiduously.
If the year was a film, it was overlong perceptibly because the lead actor coveted every minute of screen-time. The lead actor being Covid-19. The Academy of Motion Pictures is surely tempted to cancel the Oscars just to prevent the virus winning every acting category.
Donald Trump could not compete. North Korea slipped into an afterthought. Airports became ancient experiences elders recounted to young ones, and when they open again record numbers have to file for new passports because in moments of anguish they burnt theirs. Religious leaders sent their flocks home, which is the opposite of their standard operating procedure. The term essential was tagged to every movement that brothels were tempted to go public.
But someone shouts from the back, “It’s better than war or a major disaster.” Ah, the counterpoint.
Missiles over our heads or the earth splitting under our feet are seismic tragedies, and not the intention here to play down those who have suffered through either. Nor are we to compare harms and say massive harm has to be valued in context of other harms.
If the case was to be made, asked to be made, 2020 presented an invisible nefarious threat decimating our weakest and therefore forcing all — near, far, every inch of space where humanity lives on the globe — to alter, react and restrict around the clock, for days, weeks and soon a year.
Pitcairn Island or downtown Mumbai. If there are people, perpetual measures become the norm.
Work, family, play, pray or straying to the park across the road. All under attack. Nothing could be done without factoring the virus.
Even Genghiz Khan’s armies relented.
Covid-19 also U-turns. With second and third waves. It guts people to see the initial work ripped up.
Where unprecedented efforts are expended to control crowds, bring work and school home and break home delivery records. There are fewer transmissions, the successes cheered. Below two digit daily transmissions held up as triumphs.
But eventually when people tire as they do and get lazy, it shoots up. The psychological blow of such gigantic commitments squashed so suddenly and so totally, overwhelms especially those who exhausted themselves to get the early victories.
The year ends with hope, but even with hours left before it ends I would not rule out 2020 raining on any parade.
The news of multiple vaccines emerging at the same time along with unrivalled global undertakings to produce the quantities, immensely reassures a species.
Though, not overnight, at least the timer is on, finally. After months of uncertainty, there is a way out.
So, the true enemy is the virus... not the year. Does it matter? If you keep getting punch slapped in the parking lot, you’d hate the assailants as much as the parking lot. Won’t people say 2020 most when they mention Covid-19?
2019 may have launched the virus, and 2021 is when it ends its reign of terror, but 2020 is where we lived as the virus’ hostage.
The feeling won’t go away even years from now.
Absolutely guaranteed 2020 gets more mention and revulsion in conversations, when we unconsciously estimate the metre between us. Or if persons display strong emotional drawbacks or inability to restart lives, they’d call them 2020 products — perfect disasters.
Disaster is apt. Bye-bye 2020, don’t blame us for not missing you.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.