Monday, April 20, 2020

Journal of a Lockdown No. 39


I took this photo sometime in January, when I had no idea that the world would come to this. I mean—who knew? What was I thinking then? Perhaps, around this time, after I had finished fellowship training, I would be at home in Marbel, reviewing for the board exams scheduled in July, working part time in a hospital or a chemo unit. In between review sessions, I would swim at the SMRAA pools, spend the afternoon weekend at Sean's dental clinic, and maybe take driving lessons.

On that hot January day, I took the train from the hospital to Central Station. It was the fastest route, and I only had a short window to claim my new 10-year passport. There were no people in masks. I did not get paranoid when I stood beside someone who coughed. I needed a new passport for my trip to India, which pushed through in February, and to Japan, which never materialized. The DFA at SM Manila was efficient, thorough, polite: I felt, for the first time, that I was not dealing with the government.

Meanwhile, the board exam has been cancelled indefinitely. Stuck at home, I have finished books and series and films. When the Lockdown had gun, I was still itching to get out. I like to believe I have come to accept this new normal, and the closest thing to my trips outdoors is the weekly trip to the grocery or wet markets.

In the absence of pollution, Metro Manila hides, in unexpected corners, indications of her past beauty.  I have old photos to remind me of that fact.



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