On the first morning of 2021, rain was falling in Kuala Lumpur just as it had been on New Year’s Eve. All around the busy roads between Pasar Seni and Kampung Attap, cars and trucks added to the noise on the street, with destinations to reach and lives to continue as usual.
At the Chow Kit market where wilted greens and fish guts spilled on the floor, migrants and weary old ladies called to potential buyers as trade went on as usual.
As the day went by, social media continued to bear witness to politicians, young and old, making waves and annoying commentators with promised policies and stands that they could not agree on, as usual.
Their fanatics continued to pledge loyalty to the said promises and smear dirt on opposing figures, adding to the worsening fight of influence that looks there to stay, as usual.
The day never got hot as strong wind blew the pickets and signs of activists protesting over the deteriorating ecosystem and the rights of workers and sexual minorities.
In sad wards and emergency units, frontliners stayed numb to the sickness and deaths that kept piling up. Visions of freedom from the taxing work continued to stay out of reach as clusters and statistics grew.
Patients continued to accept their situations in their shared spaces, with shared stories of ghosts sheltering in that same space. For some, ventilators kept loyal company until their frail and sickly lungs decided to end their struggle.
As the sun began to set, artists found their inspiration in the momentary dusk, as artistic ventures went on. Blank canvases and papers awaited paint brushes and pens, as the artists continued to express themselves, critics kept hating and consumers kept loving.
At night, the elite partied once more as the celebration the day before was not enough. Struggle continued to be a foreign concept, with everlasting enjoyment the only thing that mattered.
Drug addicts came out as well to search the heaps of trash for metal, old shoes and cast-aside phones. These items would be repaired before being sold somewhere in Pasar Seni to fund their addictions of tomorrow.
Somewhere in the shady walkways of shop lots and dimly lit stairs, sex workers continued to wait for their meagre payments for modest meals, rent and the pimps who continued to hound them.
As the country grew weary and tired, soft beds and pillows, walkways and park benches were there for people to rest their heads, for slumber to mend their exhaustion after a long day that unfolded as usual.
Life will go on in 2021, just as it did in 2020.
There is a universe in all of us. Each is a story experienced, contained and lived as usual. Each is a continuation of what 2020 was, a universe lived on into a new year and a chance for hope to keep blooming towards realisation – or maybe a hope sullied by struggle.
What these stories may be are for writers to write about as usual, and for editors to keep editing; for the media to stay alive by disseminating and for readers and listeners to read and hear.
The call for passionate love and hate, for contribution and growth and discourse will be voiced as usual in these writings. They are a reminder of the new year, with a new chance for lives to go on as usual and for us to bloom in a new year, and towards the next one.