It was a leap year February and the extra day did nothing but make the already awful month even more unbearable. Our arrival in Malaysia for the Chinese Lunar New Year coincided with the global outbreak of the now-christened Covid-19 coronavirus that soon spiralled out of control as stocks of face masks, hand sanitizers, antiseptic handwash and toilet paper were depleted in frenzied bouts of panic-buying. We spent our days and nights in self-imposed quarantine, Anna and Ben trying to keep up with distance learning while I struggled to bear burdens of a personal nature. Before we knew it, we had waded into March and we were back in our adopted home, Hong Kong, facing an anxious future in a changed place. Is this the new normal, I wonder, where we assess each person we meet – family, friend or stranger – for how “safe” they are? Is she ill? Has he washed his hands? Didn’t they just fly back from an highly infected area? Do we – can we – trust them? Do we dare trust ourselves?
In these disquieting times, we find solace in the arts – in the written word, the painted canvas, the moulded sculpture, the haunting song, the arch of the bent back, and the multicoloured chevrons of knitted yarn. May we find ourselves still afloat at March’s end, and stronger for having swum against the currents.
Be safe, and read always.
Maureen, Anna & Ben