Yesterday seems so far away

pic by TMR FILE PIX

NOBODY really knows the reasons. No one could have fathomed how a virus could imprison hundreds of millions of people in their own homes.

A virus with lipid membranes, which could be destroyed with just soap and water, had brought down thousands of planes from the sky, turned malls into deserted ghost towns and left the world in abject chaos.

In a span of less than five months since the virus was detected at its supposed birthplace of Wuhan, the world that we knew before seems to have been lost.

More than two million people have been infected by Covid-19 and tens of millions more could be walking about with the virus.

Conspiracy theorists are already having a field day. “A secretly developed bioengineered weapon that could wipe out millions of people from the planet had been leaked from a lab.”

Though it sounds less mentally deranged compared to Donald Trump being an alien, conspiracy theories have fuelled the questions behind the pandemic that had killed more than 160,000 people. An occult feeling is rising from all the confusion.

Soon, someone will link the current apocalypse feeling to one of Nostradamus’ 942 poetic quatrains. Supporters of the French reputed seer have linked his prophecies to many key events in human history, including the Sept 11 World Trade Centre attack, the landing on the moon and Lady Diana’s tragic death.

People of faith have a simple answer — God’s will. Religious scriptures and biblical text talks of God’s will on humans, how vulnerable mankind is and how He determines the fate of everything on earth.

Old text talks of the Great Flood and Prophet Nuh (known as Noah in English) and his ark and the detractors. Discussions on the current state will continue for generations.

It could even be Mother Earth cleansing itself, reducing the tonnes of CO2 released to the atmosphere and regenerating lives after centuries of industrialisation and destruction.

But what the future holds will be hard to debunk. Mankind and the world are at the cusp of a social evolution.

In the months to come, we will be living in a different world than what we used to know. A son’s visit to his 87-year-old mother who he had not seen for months would be kept to “salam” without the typical hug.

A father, who is holding a wedding for his daughter, will not enjoy the customary greeting with a “packet of money” during those congratulatory handshakes.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which will arrive in more than a month’s time, will be a gathering of appreciation than of joy as family members practise social distancing. The customary “salam” and asking for forgiveness will be done at distance.

Those social get-togethers at the “mamak” shops would be shrouded with fear. Is the person who sat in the same chair Covid-19-free? Will I get infected by sitting there?

Visits to the barber shops, movies, concerts, restaurants, bars, meetings and offices come with an eerie anxiety. Are these places coronavirus-free?

A ride to work in the light rail transit coach with other people will make one break out in a cold sweat.

Everything we used to do, enjoy and take pleasure in doing, as well as cultural norms and practices that have shaped us our entire life, will change in the months to come.

Mankind is really at the dawn of a new world and yesterday…will feel a very long time ago.

  • Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the editorin-chief of The Malaysian Reserve.