Five Lessons Learned During the MCO

Assalamualaikum wbt and a very good day.

In Malaysia, it had been several weeks since the commencement of the Movement Control Order (MCO), one of the efforts made to break the chains of Covid-19. Hopefully we will see the end of it, insya Allah. I am lucky and blessed that my Akad Nikah and Reception took place 2 to 3 days before the MCO started (Yes, I am now married!). As a pharmacist working under Ministry of Health Malaysia, I do not really experience the ordeal of ‘working from home’. Life continues the same for me, for I have to come to work everyday- a hospital can’t function properly without medications okay :P. 

So, I would love to use the hashtag #iworkforyouyoustayathomeforus and #kamisediamembantu 😀

Plus, I am not an extrovert who laments over the thought of not being able to hang out at the mall or restaurants everyday with my friends, so I’m not that affected by the MCO. Other than that, I had been spending 4 years of my adult life in this sleepy town of GM where most of the shops close at 7pm, so you can say that MCO or no MCO, life goes on as usual. One of the perks of being an introvert. xD

The only two things that make me sad are:

1. I couldn’t visit my family in Kedah 

2. I couldn’t see my husband who is almost 100km away from GM. 

But then again, as with many other people who #stayathome and #workingfromhome, the MCO had somehow brought positive changes to my life. 

This ‘Quarantine’ period is like an incubation period for you to emerge as a better and greater person, once it is over, insya Allah. Think of it like Ramadhan. A period for you to learn something new, to improve your knowledge and skills, especially if you’re just staying at home. If you do not learn something worthwhile during this more-than-a-month MCO, other than fangirling over Hyun Bin in ‘Crash Landing on You’, or just making cups of Dalgona Coffee, then you are not making the most your time. The same opportunity doesn’t come twice (hopefully not! I hope this Covid will be over for good so I can book a trip to Switzerland! xD ). Yes, that’s it. Think of this seemingly bleak period as a window of opportunities. Climb out of the windows and explore your new potentials. Utilize your time. 

As for me, there are several things that I had learned during this MCO. Some of them come in the form of experiences, some of them are reflections from things I had seen and heard. 

But do take note that I am by no means, under the pretension of showing off what I had done. I merely write this to express myself, as a way of getting out the jumbled-up thoughts in my head, to gain insights and clarity through properly arranged words and sentences. These acts are just sooo….little compared to what others had done. Sooo minute. But I hope these can inspire other people to do the same, or even more!

Here it goes: 

1. I learned more about my religion 

a) I read more Islamic books. I read Ustaz Mizi Wahid’s ‘The Art of Letting God’ and ‘Call Upon Him’ twice, the same goes with Fadhilah Wahid’s ‘Nearness to You’. I also read Ayesha Syahira’s ‘Being a Quran Tag Girl’ again. Reading these increased my faith towards Allah, and I learned that Duaa is a very powerful action. It’s a very powerful tool. All this while, people keep on stressing on the importance of making sunnah prayers and fasting, but do you know that the easiest and also important form of ibadah is by making Duaa? You could do it anytime, anywhere, without having to cover your head or taking the ablution. If you are in your menses, you could still wake up at the final third of the night to solely make duaa. It’s an intimate conversation between you and Allah. When you keep on talking to Allah, it improves your relationship with your Creator, the One who understands and loves you most. It increases your faith towards Him, insya Allah. 

b) I attended more webinars: 

Pre-MCO:

All the seminars and talks were usually held in KL/Klang Valley, on Saturday or Sunday, which makes it difficult for me to attend, due to the venue being far from GM and the event falling on a weekday, or the night before weekday which required me to take a one day or two days leave from work. 

During MCO: 

Thanks to the advent of technology, alhamdulillah, I had attended five really uplifting and inspirational webinars. 

The first webinar is Ayesha Syahira’s ‘Strengthening the Relationship with the Quran’. 

The second one is Sheikh Moutassem’s ‘Finding Optimism in Times of Hardship’. 

The third one is Ayesha Syahira’s ‘Holding Hands with Full Faith’.

The fourth one is Ayesha Syahira’s ‘Talk to Allah’.

The fifth one is Ayesha Syahira’s ‘The Art of Curating Duaa’.

I also registered for Ayesha Syahira’s ‘My Best Ramadan’ and ‘Tadabbur 101’ webinars. 

So, I would like to encourage you to register for the various webinars online! There are those organized by Al-Maghrib Malaysia, Safinah Institute, Ayesha Shahira, and many more!  You do need these lectures as a supplement for your soul.  In fact, Ayesha Shahira said it is best for you to listen to at least one Islamic lecture per day. My favourite lectures are those by Mufti Menk and Ustaz Nouman Ali Khan. 

2. I am more prudent with my expenditures 

I was the person who had once spent close to RM1000 a day on clothes *cringe* *not at all proud of it*. I occasionally experienced buyer’s remorse, especially when trying out the clothes bought online that are either too big or too small, or finding that the shawl I had just purchased is almost the same shade as the one I already have *facepalm*. I had no qualm in spending almost RM20 on Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato, to the chagrin of my father. #itscheapertomakedalgonacoffeetheytastedalmostthesame. 

But well, it’s interesting to note that since the MCO took place, I had not shopped anything for myself, other than the basic groceries. I didn’t go to the fast food restaurants anymore as I learned to cook my own meals. I even stopped shopping for books, as I have a number of unread books on my shelves. I DO allocate a portion of my salary as savings every month, but I also spent a lot on unnecessary things. So, this has got to stop.

Looking at how other people struggling to earn a living, or even to feed their family members during this period of difficulties, I had truly realized the importance of saving your money for a rainy day. It is important to have enough cash, so you could use it in times of emergency, and also to help others in need. 

There are currently many lockdown and quarantine sales organized by various labels and brands, which are very tempting, but I don’t know why I don’t feel like buying any of the shawls and any of the clothes anymore. May this continue forever. 

3. The importance of gratitude and charity 

I am very blessed. Allah had blessed me with an abundance of rezeki. It breaks my heart reading about the plight of the less fortunate people during the MCO. I couldn’t imagine those who are experiencing or had experienced domestic, physical, mental, sexual and other types of abuse. I have a comfortable and safe place to call home. What about them? And thus, I feel so bad spending so much on myself. Here’s the time for me to inculcate the habit of giving sadaqah, which needs to be done regularly, insya Allah. 

The act of Sadaqah teaches me not to love or to be too attached to my money. I teaches me that Allah is Ar-Razzaq, the Provider of Rizq. You can still survive and live happily with just a little amount of money in your bank account; because it’s not the money that sustains your living, it’s Allah. Money is important, of course. It only acts as a means to sustain your life. But everything comes from Allah. Don’t be afraid to spend it to help others. When you help others, Allah will surely help you. 

Praying for the wellbeing of others is also a form of sadaqah. I pray that Allah helps those who are in needs, and those who are currently fighting their own battles, the patients of Covid-19 included. Aameen. 

4. I learned how to cook a number of meals. 

 Remember my culinary adventures 6 years back? Well, I am more adept in cooking now. Cooking is like those lab experiments you carried out in lab. Just follow the recipe and you’d almost never go wrong, insya Allah. I never knew making Laksa Penang is actually really easy!

 I even made a pretty good Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis for the Nasi Lemak! 

Alhamdulillah! Even Ayam Masak Merah is actually easy peasy! Thank you, Allah! There is this satisfaction in cooking, something cathartic and therapeutic in the acts of cutting down the onions and pounding the chillies. There is double satisfaction and happiness when your housemates took a second or even third helpings, eventually finishing the meals you cooked. Cooking, I declare, is JOYFUL. 

Next, I’m going to learn baking! 

5. Upholding The Roles of Pharmacists 

It’s sad to note that in Malaysia, the role of pharmacists is not that recognized or appreciated by the public nor the government as compared to countries like United Kingdom (where the British Royal Family acknowledged the roles of pharmacists in managing Covid19) and New Zealand (where the Prime Minister delivered a special speech to thank the pharmacists there). We are not considered as frontliners here, not even those working in the community pharmacies. 

But it’s okay. I’m just curious as to how the pharmacists become so recognized and appreciated in those countries. What did they do that make their duties so different, and hence so….acknowledged, as compared to the pharmacists in Malaysia?

 I learned that the pharmacists in UK could even prescribe simple medications- just like the MAs in Malaysia. 

I learned that the pharmacists in New Zealand and USA were taught how to use the stethoscope. Whatever for? 

And yet over there, they were not accused of ‘taking over the roles of the doctors’, like what happened here. The doctors in Malaysia balked when we talked about dispensing separation. I couldn’t imagine their reactions if we petitioned for the role of ‘prescribing pharmacist’ or even them seeing us holding the stethoscopes! 

This makes me more determined to further my study in one of those countries so I could return to Malaysia and devise steps and policies to uphold and improve the roles of the pharmacists in Malaysia, and the overall healthcare system in Malaysia, insya Allah. 

I guess that’s all from me. I am hoping to draw more lessons, and to emerge as a better person everyday, insya Allah. What do YOU learn from this MCO period? 

Originally published on 11/4/2020 

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