Lessons from Lockdown (Storytelling Contest)

Saying that lockdown drove many nuts, having had to stay with their families for nearly 3-4 months straight would undoubtedly be an understatement. It was no different for me, but yet, it was quite the contrary. That lockdown period nurtured a stronger sense of family bonding, just in a different way. My family was a simple, middle-upper class one. Dad thought it was time for the home to have a makeover before Mum gives birth to my brother in a few months time. Being 11, I was unperturbed by everything. At that point, Covid was still at its beginning stage and everyone brushed it off like a common flu. We set camp in Grandmother's home, which was only a few blocks down the road. Like an unfortunate sudden strike of lightning, the cases shot up and an immediate lockdown was announced. As usual, rumours spread everywhere regarding the recent light of events but there was nothing left to do than to accept the fact that we were up for one heck of a ride. Everyone flocked to supermarkets to grab whatever resources they could and queues were like slithering snakes. But my personal favourite event of this time, the “Toilet Paper War”. Didn't people have water in their homes to wash their bottoms? Weirdly enough, an old lady had bought so much food and filled her entire store room that she was featured on the news. It was estimated that the stock would last her a year. Wouldn't most of the food expire? Humans are eccentric and selfish. Renovation work in our home halted quicker than my attention span during maths lessons. Our apartment was left with torn down walls, cement and dust occupying every crevice, and stacks of tiles for the toilets were left outside. The windows were covered in such a thick layer of dust and debris that they lost their purpose. The look of the house gave me a “war-ruin” vibe. I knew to myself we had an even longer way to go until we could move back in. The one thing we didn't lose was our income, thankfully. Dad was offered a new contract and we had a stable money-making job. The job required us managing the trips my Dad made on an Excel spreadsheet but that required Wi-Fi. And that was exactly what my grandparents did not need nor have. This affected my online lessons as well. Out of desperation, we borrowed Wi-Fi from a good-hearted neighbour of my grandparents for our use. What was heartwarming about this was that we got our first touch of humanity in this period. Everyone was selfish, not wanting to spare anything for others, and getting everything for themselves. As a family, we all played a part in helping to get the job done. I even volunteered to manage the finances for the company, which I am still doing to this day successfully. We did have some squabbles at some times but we would work it out. Our family spirit was like a lock that held together all our chains. Mum was expecting soon and it was worrying as we had to travel across the country to get basic necessities for a newborn. We simply couldn't take the risk of waiting until after the baby was born to get those items. Online shopping seemed like a viable option but prices were extremely high. But we were left with no other option. Cases of domestic violence doubled and even tripled during these trying times which invoked a sense of pity for the plight of the country to come. People were being laid off from their jobs and the economy plummeted to an all-time low. I know it's cliché but this entire situation taught me a valuable lesson to stay for a lifetime: People only know the value of what they have when it's gone. I have always held my head high calling myself a Singaporean, knowing my country is rich and we are all stable. I cannot imagine what would have happened if Dad also lost his job and if we went hungry. I always slept with my Air-conditioning making my room into a mini-Antarctica but I went days without sleep in Grandma's home as there was only a fan. It may seem a little extra, but believe me, we humans suffer when we go without even the most trivial things that we are used to having and don't realise the value. We shouldn't compare ourselves to those who have more than us and feel regretful but rather, look at those who have nothing and be grateful. Therefore, this episode in my life is called “Lockdown Lessons”

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William

artist, musician, writer, Luddite

Troy, United States