Since the implementation of Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP) on 18 March, AsH's grey matter has also gone into an immovable mode. The mind has been like a car in neutral (not parking) gear wanting and waiting to move somewhere but undecided as to which way to turn.
As a septuagenarian, I have gone through such critical times like the Malayan Emergency (1948 - 1960). During the mid-late Fifties and early Sixties, my parents would take us on our annual (sometimes bi-annual) trips from Singapore to visit the relatives in Kuala Lumpur. Abah took a risk in driving all the way to KL. We were not allowed to bring much food and I recall seeing a group of soldiers running quickly up a hill, somewhere in Johor. Abah would avoid 'black areas' like Labis and Yong Peng and would drive straight on to Muar, crossing the Muar River by ferry to get to Melaka and our destination in Selangor. We were stopped at several road-blocks especially in Johor and Selangor. But the most scary part was to notice how sometimes, for miles and miles, ours was the only car on the road.
The riots of the mid-60s were something else! There was no prior warning of an emergency approaching us. I only knew how dire the situation was when, as I was approaching the Union House, Singapore University, voices were telling me to "go home, go home quickly". The rest is of course history. The curfew was imposed, there was no time to stock up on food or toilet paper! We just bunkered down and the villagers (Chinese and Malays ) set up a kind of Home Guard to protect each other and keep out any outsiders.
Years after that, we were never too complacent to reckon this will not happen again. When I started teaching at Sekolah Menengah Yusof Ishak in 1967, teachers had to set up a food bank for each class, consisting of a collection of tinned and dried food. The kids thought it was fun to set up a food store in the classroom but we teachers knew better. At a Staff Meeting, it was decided that married teachers would get home as quickly as possible to pick up their kids. As for the stranded students who could not get home, they would be looked after by the "bachelor-teachers" who had to remain in school to see to their welfare. Fortunately there was quite a good number of young, bachelor-staff members to be roped in, and I was one of them. Sleeping areas and food and security were all arranged and we knew what we had to do.
But unlike Covid 19, the 'enemy' was visible. We did not have to maintain a secure distance between each other. This time in 2020, the unseen 'enemy' could be nestling within our midst, the family, our friends and colleagues and our students! Welcome to 21st Century Planet Earth - modern, prosperous, hi-tech, 'civilized' Earth! I think man has forfeited his tenure in this beautiful planet, it should be inherited by all of God's winged, finned, 2-legged and 4-legged creatures that walk, swim, fly, crawl, burrow or anything else but man!
Since the PKP our streets look eerie. It's like a scene from an old black-and-white B movie, "The Invasion of Earth by Aliens from Mars".
But for AsH, it has its compensations. Covid 19 and the PKP has restored the serenity of mornings at our abode. Let me explain.
The Azan for me is the most beautiful and peaceful sound to be articulated by man . But for over 2 years something else came along to impair the message of the call of prayer and mar the tranquility of dawn and the early morning. I recorded two videos after the Azan on 30 July 2019. The first was recorded at 7 am and the second at 7.20 am.
Certainly (at least for AsH), the second is more peaceful, in tandem with with the God-given sound of an early morning.
The birds you hear in both videos could be the Koel, the Tailorbird, the Pied Fantail Flycatcher or the Bulbul, all good and lovely friends in our garden. They come round every morning to contribute to the morning chorus, no matter who or what is about.
InsyaAllah I shall write about our feathered friends (other than the cats, tree shrew and the family of toads) in our garden in my next posting.
As of 18 March 2020, after the Azan, our feathered friends had the morning stage all to themselves and as a result we can enjoy our first class seats for this Morning Chorus. Kawalan Pergerakan has its compensations after all.
Stay at home and keep safe.