The Sudden Shift- End of the Victorious Days
It was March 15 of 2020, just after our preliminary examinations. I was exhausted after the mind-boggling exam I’d taken. After I left the room, my friends were celebrating as if it were New Year’s Eve. I thought it was because we had finished our exams. I had no idea that it was just posted on Facebook that there was a weeklong class suspension due to the “COVID-19” virus. As expected of students who treat class suspensions as blessings in disguise, we went out for lunch happily. I never knew that that break would feel like going on a full stop after a speed of 80kph—from a very fast-moving routine to a life of forgetting what day of the week it was.
The Joy of the Days
The weeklong suspension recharged me. So, I texted my friends and planned a meet-up lunch; we met at the same mall, SM, but nothing was ever the same. After the sudden shift, it felt like I arrived in a different world. I noticed that people were wearing facemasks and face shields. Everything seemed so foreign to me. We had ours too, but it felt new seeing people in those “suits.” We were asked to practice social distancing inside the restaurant and in the bookstore—our go-to stop every time we visited the mall. While browsing these newly-released books, my phone rang—it was an announcement that Tuguegarao City will be under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). I went back to my normal routine when I buy books: I proceeded to the counter and paid for it—I bought a Tagalog boys’ love novel entitled “Kadenang Bahaghari,” written by John Jack G. Wigley. As usual, we bid our goodbyes and went home. Little did I know, it was going to be the last human interaction that I will have for a long time.
The Long Days
It had been months and the name of the supposed weeklong lockdown had evolved—we were now under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ). Only one member of the family can go outside for essential transactions. Fortunately, cell phones, laptops, and online modes of communication were invented before the pandemic took place. My devices were my bridges to reach my friends and family. I spent the next few days communicating with them, scrolling on social media, and watching shows on Netflix. Sometimes I took my time while drinking a cup of iced coffee on our balcony and watching the sunset. Those days had been long and exhausting, it felt like I was sitting in my math class because of how the time slowed down—except that I was missing my friends and I was in my room, alone. The isolation and disconnection were different; from there, I knew that the joy of the days was over.
The Blank Days
A year has passed, and nothing has changed. This pandemic came to us like a thief –we were unguarded, and we did not know what it would bring. It stole the supposed milestones of my life, such as senior high school graduation and my time as a college freshman. My long days were filled with longing – both for the people that I love and for the life that I had. I never loved the idea of a traffic jam, but I started thinking about the last time that I felt a stranger’s sweat against my skin. The thief left me with nothing but an empty room where I can think of all my “could-have-beens.” Luckily, this room had windows that shed light—it reminded me that I was blessed enough that none of my family members caught the virus and we were able to sustain our daily living.
The Silent days
It has been a year and seven months of lockdown. I was awakened by the continuous ringing of my phone. I was still sleepy due to the medicines I took for my headache. It was my ate messaging me, informing us that our Aunt Norma died because of the virus and her family was under quarantine and isolation. I was in shock; a sudden ring consumed my ears—it was like I was swallowed by the silence. Aunt Norma and I were just talking through Facebook the other day, and now she was gone. Weeks had passed, and still, I couldn’t move on; it was my Psych check-up, and later, I was diagnosed with “Severe Depressive Disorder.” We were silent again. No one talked after we bought my medications. We went home, and I went straight up to my room to read the book I bought a year ago; it was “Kadenang Bahaghari.” Who would have thought that the joy of the days will turn into the long days filled with melancholy that would soon remind me of how my victorious times turned into the blank days, and were now the silent days?
Benjamin Ambros King G. Sumabat is a student writer currently studying Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) at the University of the Philippines Mindanao.