Test of Faith in the Time of COVID-19 Outbreak

Yesterday, I cried while I was making dua after performing Maghrib prayer. About two weeks after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Indonesia, I complained a bit to Allah swt. I felt the whole COVID-19 thingy took its climax on me. I couldn’t help feeling miserable after I watched news on television on rising COVID-19 victims in my country. By the time I’m writing this post, 686 Indonesians are suffering from COVID-19, 55 of the number die while 30 others are recovered.

Before the prayer, my sister who works at a state-run hospital in Semarang as a nurse, warned me. She urged me to stay indoors, reducing using cash for preventing any COVID-19 virus making its way to my body. She told me so after I had shared my plan of going to a convenience store nearby a room where I currently stay. I had to draw cash because I still need cash for buying ready-to-eat foods and snacks.

She insisted me to cook or use food delivery, to which I declined because the COVID-19 pandemic makes online transportation more expensive. On the other hand, the room will be too packed if I purchase all cooking utensils. Alas, I also don’t have a fridge to store and keep all veggies and meats fresh for days.

During our chat, my head was already overwhelmed with unfinished jobs by that time. You can imagine how negativity was surrounding my mind that all I could think of was complaining to Him.

In the first two weeks, it was easy for me from swinging from hopelessness to positivity. Every time the Indonesian government announced on latest COVID-19 victim number, I took seconds to bounce from misery to good spirit. But yesterday told the different story.

As days go by, more Indonesians are confirmed as suffering from the virus. Worse, I found more hoaxes were spread everywhere, from portal news, WhatsApp group chats to social media. It became common that I would discover some rumors in one or two particular groups then had them clarified, revised or nullified by other people in another chat group.

I really wanted to smash my smartphone at that moment. No kidding! What’s the use of #socialdistancing and #workfromhome if we can’t keep our mind positive by limiting news consumption? Aren’t we hurting our mental health if keep doing so?

Truth to be told, after the Maghrib and even Isya prayers, I didn’t feel peaceful at once. Quite strange. The triple negativity took hold my mind and soul thereby I couldn’t put myself at rest while praying.

But there was one thing, one thing that relieved me. I stopped complaining right away. I picked up my bag, went to the convenience store by using a public minivan. I forgot to wear a facial mask but I didn’t return home for getting one. I used my headscarf to cover my mouth almost for the entire quick shopping.
The Palmerah traditional market, which is only some meters from where I live, seemed quieter. Few sellers were opening their stalls, such as foods and fruits. Most of them shut theirs. Only few public minivans were passing the market, making the area a bit lonelier than usual.

Yet just some meters from the market, a lot of citizens flocked fresh veggies, spices and fruits that were put on the edge of the main road leading to an intersection to Kebayoran Lama and Rawa Belong.

I found nothing changed that night. I can’t blame them for keeping business as usual that eventually drew would-be buyers. Surviving in the COVID-19 pandemic is getting harder as people choose staying at homes. At the same time, I regretted most of them didn’t wear facial masks let alone kept distance.

The convenience store welcomed more visitors than usual. And more citizens gathered around the store with small traditional food and drink stalls remained open. It’s really hard to stop people from working. It’s like it’s either they’ll die from the virus or from starvation.

I bought necessary stuffs at the store. I was proud of myself that I didn’t activate the smartphone even for just one hour. As I completed the transaction, I stopped a public minivan which was empty. He was speeding with me as the sole passenger.

And here was the best lesson of all. During the super short homecoming trip, the peace started taking over my heart again. The wind of the night felt so refreshing, probably as pollution was less harmful and the sky was clearer with more citizens didn’t use their vehicles.

I was grateful to Allah swt that He still gives me halal provision from home as I was looking at the traders who had to keep working on the streets. I couldn’t believe how much difference it made for not opening the smartphone for one hour. The good mood and faith only needed that short of time to finally blossom in my heart.
Having good faith during this difficult and uncertain time is like holding on an invisible rope. It will only get real when we look at it, over and over again.

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