Friday 8 October 2021

An Old Man and Covid 19.


If you have been a reader here for a long time (and I thank you for it) you may notice that my posts have become less frequent, almost rare.

That was because at some point after glaucoma blinded my right eye, back pain became my regular companion, dripping urine soil my under pant and forgetting why I entered the kitchen, I realized that age has caught with me and I need to prioritize my remaining time on earth.

That’s easy to say, prioritize but what are my priorities (if any) at this old age? Am I the kind of person who has the grit to achieve what I plan to do or traipse my life aimlessly?.  I think the latter is more likely as lack of motivation is one of my foible...

In Singapore, life expectancy is. about 84 years old.  I’m 75 and theoretically I have 9 years left to bid the last farewell.

Somehow, lately I felt the sense of life finality creeping deeper into my sense of reality especially with the recent passing of my two old friends, aged 75 and 79. 

It’s tough to describe that complex emotional feeling but I know the last leg of my journey is sooner rather than later with the current highly infectious Delta variant in the air everywhere. I am in the group of elderly people who is more vulnerable to the pandemic.

Today (9thOct), 11 more seniors, aged between 56 to 90, have died from complication linked to Covid-19., taking Singapore’s coronavirus death toll to 154. The average age of the dead is 78 and are mainly seniors who had various underlying medical condition. That’s what the Government media says but ordinary folks will never know the true cause of their death.

The media also tersely reminds us not to be alarmed with the current high infection rate of over 3,500 cases and 10 over death a day. They reiterate that death of seniors is an inevitable occurrence. Elderly are going to die one way or the other, sooner or later, a collateral damage, nothing more.

I know human is mortal and death is an eventuality.

I am slowly learning to embrace it but the current Health Ministry's mixed messages are as in double bind. Confusing regulations like restricting my freedom of social interactions, safe distancing, home quarantine and in particular, banning me from having my beer at my favorite coffee shop with my six regular kakis (max. 2 at a table) are what frustrates me. Why five overseas VIP can dine together at a table in a restaurant but not locals?.   

Whatever little "socializing freedom" I have is now gone as I have to confine myself inside my flat as much as possible to avoid getting myself and others infected. Its for your own good they say especially if you are elderly..

The first time I appreciate and value freedom was when I was remanded for a week in a Johore prison for alleged immigration offenses(un-chopped passport). The loss of freedom in a prison was intolerable and an awakening. I was at the mercy of the Malaysian authorities and freedom was uncertain.

Strangely, I felt the current Covid-19 restrictions inflicts the same loss of freedom on me like I was in that Johore prison 15 years ago. 

In comparison, what was my life like before Covid-19, two years ago and now, the midst of a serious pandemic?

Before Covid 19, travelling to regional countries was my first love, followed by socializing with old friends like chatting and having meals cum beer in coffee shops.

I remember on October 2019, I planned to visit “The Death Railway” in Thailand with a sixty years old friend who has a girlfriend living near the railway line. It was then that we read of the raging Covid 19 virus in China, causing border lockdowns and death in the thousands there.

Initially, like our PM, we casually dismissed the virus as a seasonal flu. Remember the “Wear Mask Only If You’re Unwell”.

We proceeded with purchase of our air-tickets but eventually got a refund three months later when air travel was banned within a week after our ticket purchase.

Another affinity of mine before Covid19, was drinking beer and exchanging banality in coffeeshop on weekends with old friends. It gives me a reason to stay alive.

Usually, before we got tipsy, we talk about travelling, eating, horse racing, football, kampong days, driving, children and grandchildren, rising cost of living and Covid-19 but never on politics and religion. These two topics are taboo as we are former urchins in modern Singapore.

However, sometimes a bomb or gem is dropped. 

A retard would raise his beer glass and solemnly swear at his mother’s grave that he loves PAP as he just got his $9,000 payout as a taxi driver. 

The table would fall silent for a minute in antipathy and then a smart Alex would pique the group and start to talks about why our crowded MRT trains and buses has no safe distancing enforcement. 

An enjoyable debate on the topic would erupt with most of us cursing PAP’s inept handling of the pandemic.

In retrospect, living the past two years in Singapore with a severe pandemic somewhat changed my perspective of life.

I am no longer anxious or fearful of what lies ahead. My responsibilities to place food on the table and a roof over my family are taken care through a fully paid HDB mortgage, CPF Life, saving and my adult children support.

My wants are plenty but my needs are few.

My friends are becoming fewer and I embrace solitude.

Stressed, senile or depressed for staying more at home alone ?. No, not for me. 

I prefer airy cool home than hot humid weather outside.

I had enough of "running" all over Singapore as a cabby for the last decade. 

Home is relaxing. Netflix, football streaming, browsing Facebook and other social media platforms takes up most of my wakening hours.

Siesta is mandatory and beer drinking is an occasional bonus

Exercising is something I must do but I kept procrastinating.

Cooking and gardening are my new hobbies.

I sleep whenever I am bored or sleepy and by the Grace of God, I have no problem sleeping easily at night.

Sadly, I wake up periodically in the middle of the night to urinate due to enlarged prostate, a normal old age ailment. 

I enjoy simple pleasures of life like smelling the fragrant of blooming flowers in my corridor garden and playing games with my grandchildren.

Generally, I am contented and happy with whatever little I have.

On reflection of my working life as a taxi driver in Singapore for the last 10 years, I think I have been on many roads that are never travelled by most drivers.

I notice the landscape of Singapore has changed dramatically in the last decade.

She looks different by each passing day as new roads are paved and widen, large forested areas are cleared for new housing estates and condominiums, new MRT stations and business hubs are built.  She is undoubtedly becoming a concrete city soon.

If I drive a cab today, I will probably miss my routes. Some locations look strange as familiar landmarks are gone.

Old folks depend on familiarity to get around comfortably and seldom like to venture into unknown areas.

I come from a family selling bicycles and I love cycling since young. But at my present age, cycling can be dangerous although I am a skillful rider and has the energy to paddle the wheels for short distances.

Cycling on our busy Singapore’s roads and sharing with other motorists is like living in a jungle with ferocious animals. They could maul and kill you if you slake in your attention as they are stronger and merciless.

Sadly, walking on our narrow sidewalks is like cycling on the busy roads. Danger is everywhere.

Alas, living my twilight years in the world most expensive city state of Singapore, with few open space, packed MTR trains and buses, and an authoritarian regime with rigid controls and draconian laws, gets me thinking every day of wanting to fly out like a bird in a cage

I dream of living in an wooden house with electricity and clean water along a sandy beach in a Malaysian, Thailand or Philippine village. The cool sea breeze would invigorates me.

This weekend 4D lottery is my only hope to make my dream comes true.


Overcome Life said...

Glad to read your post again and I share same sentiments towards few things you mentioned on it. Love the energy you have at your 75! Keep it up and live life to your fullest always!!! Stay safe and take care!!!

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Thanks for your compliments.
You're one of the very few who would bother to write a comment in my post.
Thank you for that.
James Lim

Overcome Life said...

You are most welcome! I love your spirit on keep on writing at this age. I hope I'll still be able to keep writing like you when I'm living till 75 hahaha....

Anonymous said...

Hello sir don't lise your Time thinking about thé end. As i Say to my old father juste live, what Can you do against Time ? Your blog is great and i wish you health. Hello from France.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi Anon/France...Yes, think of living, not death. Let it come. So Be It. cheers!!

James Lim

apel said...

its always great to see that you still there. Hope you have good health and be blessed. Remind me to my dad (78 yo and still working too). Cheers

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Apel.
Thanks for your blessing.
Wow, your Dad at 78 is still working. That's great.
I'm not sure anyone wants to employ me to do meaningful work at 75.
James Lim

apel said...

he already work there more than 30 years, possibly retire early next year.
we keep let him work because if he stay home, doin nothing, he will be stress and impacting his health. thats why he still working.

William said...

Dear James,

It brings a smile each time I see an update on your blog. regardless of how infrequent or rare that it appears. I wish you many good years ahead, years filled with simple joy of enjoying each day as it comes. Myself, I am turning 64 this December and I can resonate with your sentiments each time you write. Perhaps, some day I may read an update on your blog, describing your excitement about winning the elusive Toto jackpot & how you plan to spend it !


Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, William,
We're in about the same age group and I'm extremely pleased that you resonate with my many sentiments. Similarly, I wish you a healthy and long life. Cheers!!