While waiting for that silver lining…

If we want the MCO to end exactly as planned, we need to adhere to all that has been outlined by the authorities

pic by BERNAMA

IF YOU’RE familiar with Bali, you might have some knowledge about Nyepi, a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is celebrated every Isakawarsa, also known as Saka New Year, according to the Balinese calendar.

Coincidentally, this year’s Nyepi falls on March 25 (tomorrow). For the uninitiated, Nyepi is a Hindu celebration. It is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese.

The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year’s Day. Each year, Nyepi is observed for 24 hours (from 6am) as a day for self-reflection.

As such, many things that are done on any ordinary day would be restricted. Imagine an entire day with no fire, while lights must be kept very, very low (preferably with no electricity).

No one is supposed to work, and there should be no entertainment or pleasure. Nope, there’s supposed to be no travelling too, and for some, no talking or eating at all!

Those who’ve experienced Nyepi would tell you how quiet the entire island is on that day. Bali’s usual busy streets and roads would be empty, almost freakishly quiet. There’d be minimal or no noise at all — not even from television sets or radios.

Even at home, people would tread really carefully and stealthily, while making as minimal movement as they can.

The only people who are allowed outdoors are the Pecalang — security personnel who are chosen according to the tradition of the people in Bali. They’d patrol the streets to ensure that all prohibitions are observed.

If you’re a tourist and you decide to play truant and flout the rules, you just do not know who you’re messing with!

While tourists are free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed to go to the beaches or to roam the streets. Even the airport is closed for the entire day.

Now, imagine if we have to observe the rules of Nyepi during our Movement Control Order (MCO). Some of us might have gone bonkers on the first day itself!

The MCO is certainly not as challenging as Nyepi. We can still move (although with certain restrictions) and we can certainly do almost whatever we want behind closed doors.

Electricity is up and running and we can watch as much television as we want, if we want to, that is.

We can still sit at the balcony and play the guitar, and we can still call (or video call) our loved ones if we miss them.

No one’s going to stop us from reprimanding our boisterous children, and no one will complain if the blender is constantly whirring in the kitchen as we cook away all our favourite dishes.

Pestle and mortar? Of course! We are Malaysians, after all.

For the introverts, the MCO is certainly a welcome, but the more extroverted personalities might find it a little bit of a challenge to stay put.

Still, staying put is a responsibility these days. With the number of Covid-19 cases piling by the day, one can’t help but be reminded that everything is done for our own good.

Like it or not, if we want the MCO to end exactly as planned, we need to adhere to all that has been outlined by the authorities. This is certainly not the time to complain, nor is this the time to play politics or blame games.

In fact, it would be nicer to turn it around and play the “glad game” instead. If you’ve read Pollyanna, the book written in 1913 by Eleanor H Porter, you’d know the drill.

You see, Pollyanna has the knack to find something as optimistic and to be glad about even when the situation is dire.

Whenever you find yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable situation, think of three things that you’re glad about.

For instance, be glad that you and your entire family are safe at home during these trying times. Be grateful that you can now eat together and the food is home-cooked for a change.

Perhaps you could be even happier that your mother is not as controlling as the mom next door who would be screaming at her children every other minute.

Yes, you should be very happy and glad that you are not part of the marauders who massacred the supermarkets during the first two days of the MCO.

And yes, we must all be very grateful to have extremely dedicated medical troupes, the police and army personnel in every state who are selflessly working round the clock to keep us safe.

And all we have to do is stay home…


Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor of The Malaysian Reserve.