Bugged By The Bug




On Monday night, naïve I decided to drop by the neighbourhood sundry shop to pick up a bottle of fresh milk for my wife. A couple of hours later I was to pick her up, returning from Jakarta, at KLIA. No Grab for her. Who knows who has been spraying what in the car before her
Don’t worry. She has imposed a two-week quarantine on herself. If only it was just that. The past couple of days and nights, the sight of me reading a book or lounging in front of the TV has prompted the sticking of a thermometer in my armpit to confirm that I am not a fiery furnace
I have had to confirm a few times that it’s a hot day and that she doesn’t need to reach for the thermometer
A cough from a careless swallow of fried rice prompted a searching glare, dimmed when I assured her a drink of water would settle things. In the usual nature of banana peels that life throws in all our paths, the throat itches into 4-5 more coughs. I came "this close" to my wife inviting a team of hazmat-clad men to dinner
Back to the sundry shop, and what the… a queue of people waiting to get into the mob-filled shop
Went to a nearby supermarket. A long queue at both cashiers, but the rest of the supermarket was not infested with a crowd. Got the milk. Get eggs… to be greeted by a woman slowly assessing eggs from two trays of 30 eggs each, switching eggs till she had found the 30 microscopically biggest eggs. My death-ray glare at her fat back didn’t scorch her flab and jolt her attention, so I decided to leave… to find the queue to the cashiers now extended to the back of the supermarket, did a U-turn and was lengthening into another aisle
The long inching forward wait allowed me to see Malaysians at their best – an Indian lady offering a plastic bag to a Chinese man whose arms were cradling bottles, instant noodles and cans – and their worse – a shouting match at the eggs section resulting in an egg splattered on the floor. The ugly me inside thought the egg should have been splattered on the woman
After a patient half-hour, it was priceless to startle the cashier, who had in the past several hours dealt with hundreds of trolleys and baskets heaped with enough rations for a long siege, with just a bottle of milk
“Satu saja? (One only?)” Her colleague, who was packing things, laughed: “Ya, satu saja. You surprised?”My small contribution, light relief for a couple of stressed frontline personnel
By noon of Tuesday, the usual thrum of commerce in old town PJ had died down to a whisper. Shops were shuttered. The mamak shops had a blockade of tables at their entrances, allowing only takeaways
A police car in front of one of them drew my eyes to a police officer having a meal inside. I guess that’s okay since he was the only one in the whole place. And his presence would deter anyone intent on dining in
The alienated manIn my university days, I became fascinated with the philosophies of existentialism and the absurd, the alienated man
Well, here is a Malaysian as an alienated man…Alienated from friends, colleagues, neighbours, the many people that fill our several needs through the day; masked from them; everybody locked in familial cells
Alienated from his environment – don’t touch this handle, don’t touch that railing; unfortunately, one can’t refrain from touching money. There's always demands for it, from you, literally filthy lucre, so wash, wash, wash your hands
In case you don’t know how to wash your hands, don’t worry, your concerned friends would have apped you dozens of vids on how to wash your hands. The surfaces of the world have become a toxic minefield
Ultimate alienation - from yourself - do not touch your face or lips, much less others. Do not trust your hands. Namaste
Also alienated from the government that allowed politics to infest a vital meeting to coordinate efforts to combat Covid-19
Yes, Chief Secretary of the Government Mohd Zuki Ali (photo) has apologised "for the mistake about the invitation, which was only sent out to chief ministers and menteri besars of federal government component parties"
So, who drew up the list of invitees? How come the prime minister and ministers at the meeting didn’t comment on the absence of five state leaders since Mohd Zuki says the PM had instructed otherwise? I won’t hold my breath waiting for answers to these questions
The ultimate indictment - that billionaire Najib Abdul Razak can seize the moral high ground and chastise the government for its partisanship
In turn, the government is alienated from the people, because while it said it recoalesced because of the people, the people never got a word in about who should govern them. It was all decided in hotels and dinner parties people were not privy to, convoys of luxury cars going to their plots
Alienation may be fascinating to a university student. It’s depressing in reality
The yang of the yin (or is it the other way round?) is that the carbon footprint of the world must be shrinking fast. The lungs of the world can breathe easier, even if it’s only a brief respite. Progress is in recess
Also, our sagging, flagging birth-rate should see a much-needed spike round about Christmas end of the year. A matter of confinement
THOR KAH HOONG is a veteran journalist. - Mkini

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