Deep Breaths

By Anonymous

2020 as it is today is definitely not what I imagined it to be on New Year’s Eve. Even as I made the same New Year’s Resolutions I always did, I knew this year was going to be different. Like everyone else, this was going to be my year! The “New Year New Me” trope definitely resonated with me. I started off pretty well, too! I was going to the gym, I made time for myself, I worked hard, and I also tried to let loose… a little. Then came COVID, and we’re back to the drawing board. All my plans for this year had to be adjusted. A little, or maybe even a lot.

I’m an international student and I haven’t seen my family since January. I had planned to go back home at the end of November, but as expected, my flight got cancelled. I knew it was going to happen and I knew that going home may not have been the most realistic and wise decision in the midst of a pandemic. However, when the cancellation was confirmed, I may not have admitted it at the time, but I was disheartened. I felt emotional, helpless and worried about when I’d be able to see my family next. 

However, I’m a firm believer that it’s all about perspective and what we do with the opportunities we get and the challenges that we face. In hindsight, I’ve grown a lot during this pandemic, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what is truly important. One of the most important things I learned, is that my health, encompassing physical, emotional and mental domains, is of utmost priority, especially during this pandemic. I also learned that I could either focus on all the problems and the negatives, or I could focus on the solutions and be more positive. 

This is definitely easier said than done. 

Some ways I dealt with all my emotions during the pandemic was by reflecting on things I am thankful for. I’m thankful for the friends I have here, I’m thankful for being in a safe country. I’m thankful for having access to food and water, living in a home that is warm and comfortable. I’m thankful that I still have the opportunity to continue my education. I’m thankful that I have more time on my hands to have long video chats with my family. 

Another thing I did was I tried to still achieve the goals I wanted to achieve, but by changing the means with which they’ll be achieved. I’ll be honest, when the gyms shut down, I was really sad. I loved the adrenaline rush from lifting weights, I was excited about strength training, and I found it to be a great mental break from studying. But I realised I could do the same thing outside the gym as well. I could go for regular morning walks/runs, play sports with my housemate at the park near my house, go bike riding, or even watch YouTube videos for at-home workouts. 

The moral of the story is, I learned that a lot of the times, it’s not what opportunities we get that are important or determine our success, but it’s also what we make of those opportunities. This may well be an opportunity for more self-growth, to attend to things we didn’t have time to attend to, and really re-centre our attention to the things that really matter to us!

Find that passion and make the most of the time we got with this Pandemic and let’s come out at survivors! And remember to get your daily water intake and vitamin D 🙂

Unstable Connection

BY MONIQUE CONIBEAR

Back in my day, I lived through a pandemic and it was the only thing that truly prepared me for this moment.

From the bottom of the carpark the white building was like a castle. Multiple levels looming over me with each wing interconnected through a walkway of glass that faced out towards a forest of green. It was beautiful in a way, a new adventure kind of like my first year at university. I would be living in a room about the same size as the one at my college hall. Everyone around me would be different, hundreds of potentials for another friend. There would even be games and activities to get me involved every single day.

It would be similar to university, but not the same. If anything, it would be more like my second year. The year of the pandemic. Sure, maybe this time I would be able to see new people every day, but I still wouldn’t be able to connect like normal.

As I walked into the foyer the first thing that struck me was how pristine everything looked. A bottle of sanitiser on the wall, a vending machine in the waiting room, a nurse sitting at the desk. It reminded me of the hospital where I had spent many years as a doctor. Pushing through on exhausted legs until the sun rose and I was granted a chance to rest. However as much as this reminded me of my working years, I wasn’t here to work. This time I was the patient and from now until the day I died; this would be my new home.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” the nurse at the desk called out, beckoning me over.

I jolted out of my thoughts.

“Hi, sorry, I’m uhh” the words jumbled in my mind. I dug my fingernails into my palm. What was the word I was trying to say? I bit the inside of my cheek. I felt like I was back on that zoom call but the internet was constantly cutting out. So many random words being missed that the sentence no longer made sense anymore.  How could I possible connect with them if I couldn’t even have a conversation? The other day I had forgotten the word for mug. Mug. Such a simple word that I had used all my life and I couldn’t even remember it. Yet somehow my stupid mind could still remember all the elements of the periodic table that I learnt in Year 8. It didn’t even make sense. 

“Mum, there you are. Sorry we got caught in traffic on the way over. Paul is bringing up your things”. Sophie called, wheeling in one of the suitcases she had packed for me.

“Oh, you must be the new resident,” the nurse said, shuffling through the paperwork. “I’ll go get Kerrie and she can show you around.”

I just nodded and took another look around. Why had I agreed to this? At least at home I would be surrounded by people I loved. How could anyone ever love me here if I couldn’t even hold a conversation?

Another lady was walking into the foyer, bent over her walking frame and taking slow shuffling steps. She was beaming from ear to ear as she hummed Amazing Grace. It startled me at first, how happy be looked, but then I realised she wasn’t exactly in the same boat as me. I would give up my mobility any day if I could just speak normally again.  If I could still love like I had before. That was probably why she was so happy.

As she saw me her entire face lit up. She shuffled towards me and gave me a warm smile, resting her hand on mine and squeezing tight. Then, still without saying a word she made her way out the door and sat on the little chair overlooking the carpark.

“See. She seems really lovely,” Sophie said, squeezing my other hand.  

I nodded; my eyes still focused on the woman. Her smile stretched from ear to ear as she looked aimlessly out towards the cars. I glanced back down at my hands where the feeling of her touch still lingered. We hadn’t even spoken, yet I felt like I already knew her.

Maybe this wasn’t like the pandemic at all. Back then we could never hold a stranger’s hand like that, yet we could talk as much as we liked.  Back then I would have been craving what I have now. I might have even given up all my conversations if it meant I could just give someone a hug.

I felt tears begin to prick at my eyes. How had I forgotten that there is more than one way to love? The pandemic had been the same at first, I was so focused on not being able to hold someone’s hand or give them a hug that I forgot there were other ways to connect. We had adapted back then, finding new ways to care and connect despite the barrier. Calling a friend just to show them we were thinking about them. Not focused on the exact conversations we were having but rather knowing that the effort itself showed more than words ever could. 

Maybe, just maybe , I could learn how to adapt now too.

COVID Ain’t The Only Pandemic

BY SAVANNAH MANDAKINI

Right hand yellow

Imagine a time where the only safe place is your room to hide

In their minds, people are dreaming of dining out- Inside Out

The fear of dying alone, with no hope of seeing home

And family, and I miss the joy of camaraderie,

My camera’s the only friend of me

As I vapidly take one hundred selfies

Angrily scrutinise them for deformities

And disgustingly add the black-and-white filter to make me edgy

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

This ain’t the only pandemic.

Left hand red

There’s a lot of issues in this world

But first let’s recap the schism that has recently been re-unfurled

And let’s be real here- this is a chasm deeper than the thinking that started up these protests and impulsive animosity

What happened to the logical thought in this world?

What happened to equality?

Why does the colour of one’s skin matter so much to society?

And ironically, even those who ask this question

Are often the same people who criticise the “orange-skinned man”

For a “ridiculous fake tan”

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe.

COVID ain’t the only reason to be afraid

Panic’s the biggest pandemic.

Left foot blue

‘Click click click’

Are now a baby’s first words

I’m taking out the piss

On a collection of chicks, Toms, Harrys and Dicks

Who think it’s lit and sick

To act prissy- I’ll tell ya, missy

We’re all losing brain cells here; don’t get busy

Losing your mind over Instagram views, it won’t make a difference

I can keep saying that

But the truth is I’d be a hypocrite

Cos I’m hopelessly swept up

In a frenzy of selfies

As I lay in my bed on a magnifice-

-Cently lazy Sunday evening

Technology is killing our brains and our imagination

And if you don’t call that a pandemic,

I don’t know what will cause a panic

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

COVID ain’t the only pandemic.

Limbs are shaking

The world is quaking

We’re in a time we haven’t seen before

People are making

Time to quell the aching

They are fighting injustice in corps

Unfortunately

We are creating

Disunity

It’s worse than

Quarantining

We should be awaking

Unity

It’s a world full of partitions

It’s more than an ocean of tectonic plates

Enough with the panic; let’s fight our pandemics.

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

COVID ain’t the only pandemic.

All the world’s just a Twister game,

And we are merely players

Watch as I try to wiggle my way through unscathed

But it’s all just gonna

                            tumble

                                    over

Only if we change the rules, the world will be our oyster.

And we can conquer the demons that threaten our composure.

Right foot- green!

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

COVID ain’t the only pandemic.