Are you OK, Malaysians?

JULY 14 — I tell people that I will survive this pandemic through sheer spite. Many assume I’m joking, but really, I’m not.

Speaking as someone who is always some degree of angry, anger has been the most effective fuel for my motivations, volatile as it may be.

Pre-2020, being full of rage and vengeance would be toxic and bad for your mental health but these are not ordinary times.

Do what you need to survive, so long as it harms no one. Being angry right now is normal and perhaps even necessary.

Really connecting people

It bears repeating that through all this pain, confusion and uncertainty the only thing Malaysians truly have are each other.

Whether it’s online donation drives or Facebook groups, people are scrambling for some sense of community and despite all its weaknesses, social media is still a good recourse for that.

For people with internet connections there are other ways of keeping busy — I have new hobbies, new online friends, four Twitter accounts to juggle and dedicated Instagram accounts.

Yet not many have it that easy with some having at most one low-end smartphone shared among many people.

I think the government truly needs to make the internet a publicly accessible good — with B40 it might be time to start providing one tablet per household with WiFi hotspots for instance at each PPR, village and specific areas.

If we can have low-cost cable TV packages to B40 households I don’t see why there can’t be community internet setups.

“They’ll just be playing games/watching YouTube/porn all day!” So it’s OK for people with money to do whatever they want with the internet but not for poor people?

The bigger picture is that with a device, households would be able to more easily get information they would, decades ago, have relied on TV, radio or papers to disseminate.

Fewer things are as useless as the daily MKN text spam that are useful only if you need motivation to throw your phone at the wall.

Time to remember how to live together

Through all this pain, confusion and uncertainty, the only thing Malaysians truly have are each other. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Through all this pain, confusion and uncertainty, the only thing Malaysians truly have are each other. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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Nosy neighbours are the worst. I had one neighbour who remembered every single person who visited my house and that was quite creepy.

Yet I think we really need to make the effort to ask after people, to check in on them.

Maybe talking to them is hard given the situations but perhaps it can be as easy as having little postboxes on each street, for people to leave messages or requests.

The last lockdown, a neighbour even gave me a huge bushel of bananas from his backyard.

It was an unexpected kindness and it made my day.

Looking inward and staying isolated isn’t healthy for our souls and interactions are limited — we have to do the best we can and make the best of challenging situations.

Not forever

With the uncertainty and terrible handling of the pandemic, I can’t blame Malaysians for feeling sad and seeing the situation as hopeless.

Having lived through multiple recessions, seeing my family lose my house, my mother being told she had months to live when I was a child, hitting rock bottom enough time to leave permanent bruises — all I can say is suffering is a part of life, but it is not all it holds.

We cannot give in to hopelessness and despair. It is incorrect to believe that life could not possibly have anything to look forward to in this present darkness.

I do not know you, nor the depth of your suffering or the extent of your problems. As a survivor of suicide attempts and still living with mental health struggles, I know it’s not easy to find a reason to live.

Death seems easy, living seems hard in comparison but I promise that it can get better if you wait long enough and weather the worst of it as best you can.

Life is more than pain or trying to end that pain and no matter how bleak things are, try and keep trying until you find your anchor to this life.

Right now for me, it’s staying alive because I am just angry enough that I refuse to let the politicians who have constantly flouted SOPs and mismanaged our finances outlive me.

It’s not noble, it’s not inspiring but it’s keeping me alive so I hope you do find your own reason to make it through this — even if it’s just being able to travel, cafe-hop or just be able to walk in a park without being jumped by overzealous policemen.

I aim to live through this and I hope, dear Malaysians, you do too. Stay alive, help keep others alive and dream of vengeance.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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