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Locked up in a lockdown by Veenaa Logenthiran

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Graphics by Johanna Anuar

Movement Control Order (MCO)! It’s a holiday, I think...maybe…,various emotions coursed through me simultaneously. Yeah, I was elated to be able to wake up long after the sun rises, to be able to chill with my family and to be able to finally catch up on my favorite TV series, and that’s quite a lot there!

However, come on, I just started life! Barely three weeks into a taste of university life and now it’s like I have been dished out a prison sentence. I felt like an insect trapped in the car, just as someone rolled down the window and I was heading towards it, they rolled it back up again! And oh, oh...what now of my future beau? We just met! Sigh, how I miss his cute smile and twinkling eyes! And that butterfly-in-my-tummy fluttering feeling when he looks my way! The thought of not being able to start something that could have been, felt like I was being whacked with a thorny durian while coconuts pelted down on my head! Oh yes, of course I would miss attending proper lectures and not being able to see my newfound friends, yes, yes. Those were important must-haves too.

On the first morning of the MCO, I opened my eyes to the sound of pots and pans clanging in the kitchen and then suddenly I jolted up in bed, realising that it was lunch time already! This was a prelude to MCO life - an owl-like nocturnal life of active binge-watching during the witching hours and sleeping through good-girl mornings! Hmm…not too bad, I could get used to it!

I did a double take when I looked at my phone, flashes of green unread messages at every line! Too many messages and notifications; from close friends complaining about how they were already bored, from people I’d hardly heard from in months, from groups asking each other how they were spending their time, and last but not least, a steady stream of Covid-19 updates from my aunties and uncles! It’s like they had become virus experts overnight! I guess universities don’t need to offer 3-year microbiology courses anymore.

It wasn’t long before I begun noticing that this MCO period is a great opportunity to discover things about my family that I never knew before, for instance, how much my sister moves her hands while she tells a story or how my dad's moustache twitches every time he tries to suppress a laugh! Besides having meals together, my family and I also spent time playing board games - which has now become “bored” games - our favorite being Scrabble!

Suddenly, we are doing stuff together as a family! Yes we do, we keep fit at home by doing Yoga and sometimes, we play table tennis. That’s one thing I’ll give MCO, it's a true blue family bonding glue! I am actually having more fun with my family than I’ve ever had before! But for every high, there is a low. The increase in the amount of time I’m spending with my parents has resulted in a proportionate increase in the amount of nagging I am subjected to! My mom is beginning to sound like those CDs with a scratch, you know the ones that would go on repeat, over and over again with tunes like ‘Bring your laundry downstairs NOW’ and ‘Can you please learn how to do something useful instead of staring at your phone the whole day?’

This stay-at-home period has also brought out the creative side in me that I never knew I had. A dusty, empty artbook is now filled with sketches – amateur but still artistic. From the highest cupboards, I took out baking utensils and, with the Internet as my baking guru, whipped up delicious cakes, brownies and cookies for tea. Additionally, I have successfully mastered the art of driving my parents up the wall – something they DO NOT appreciate! This MCO has taught me that I am a social butterfly, and that I derive happiness from being socially active. As soon as I realized that staying at home meant that I was able to catch up with friends – old and new – through video platforms such as Skype / Zoom, my nights were fully occupied with calls that lasted till the wee hours of the morning. Although my days are full of activity, I can’t wait to finally be able to step out of the gates of my house. I realize how little we appreciate our freedom to literally ‘go wherever we want, whenever we want’ - whether to the mamak stall long after the sun has gone down, or to the mall when we feel like treating ourselves to a newly released movie. Having experienced this lockdown, I’m sure I’ll appreciate that freedom a little more!


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