Enter the Ox, Goodbye Nakakabu-Rat!

Published December 12, 2020, 11:28 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


Philip Cu Unjieng

If one follows and subscribes to the Chinese Zodiac signs, then without a doubt, one is anticipating (in relief) the months to come. For on February 12th, 2021, we’ll be welcoming The Year of the Metal Ox; and I’m certain it can’t come any sooner, for so many are still wondering what blindsided them this 2020.

As the year 2020 started and the soothsayers and Feng Shui experts were busy prognosticating about the Year of the Gold Rat which commenced on the 25th of January; let’s face it, not many were foretelling the unmitigated disaster and calamity that this Year of the Rat would turn out to be. It was a Nakakabu-Rat kind of year, one that we wish never happened in our lifetime.

In fact, it did turn out to really be a Year of the Rat; but what no one was telling us, was that WE would be the rats. Think about it, in terms of behavior, we were constantly in hiding. Like the rats we find at our homes, we’d only go out to get food, and then we’d store the food to eat later, hoarding for the days to come. And again, like rats, when people would come close to us, we’d run away. I know it can be funny reading about it in this manner – but those are the facts, we are the ‘rats’ of this lunar year.

Even our pets must have had a very confusing year. Imagine what it must have been like for our pet dogs, with everyone approaching them wearing a mask? I know I can’t even begin to assimilate the thought processes of our canine or feline population; but if I was a dog, I’d be wondering if there was some trick being played on us, with all humans suddenly looking the same, and frustrating me as I try and lick their faces beyond the shields and masks they suddenly have on. And what happened to “walkies” and making “paseo” at the mall and parks. Why were we cooped up for months on end? Plus, why can I no longer hear my name being called out clearly – but always muffled or distorted?

THE FIRST VACCINE SHOTS –William “Bill” Shakespeare, 81, is the 2nd person to receive the Pfizer COVID-vaccine in Coventry, England, as administered by Filipina May Parsons. She administered the first vaccine shot to Margaret Keenan, 90.

Cats, I’d venture to guess, probably couldn’t care less. If anything, with the humans constantly at home and lazing around during lockdown ECQ, the cats were probably thinking, “Finally, you humans are wisening up, and adapting our lifestyle. That’s right, wake up, stretch, make some unintelligible purring noises, lick your paws, and lie down again. That is the essence of the Repeat you love to add to your mantras. We’ve been doing it since infinity, and only now you’re appreciating our wisdom? Yawn… Year of the Rat, my foot, I’m hungry!”

So here and now, I’m wondering how we’ll be acknowledging all the Chinese fortune-tellers, feng shui experts, and astrologer/numerologists who will come up with predictions for the upcoming Metal Ox Year. Out of anxiety and desperation, will we be seeking their advice and spend our depleted cash on charms and lucky talismans – and turn a blind eye to how they so completely missed out on the pandemic year that was, and is still with us? Is it just human nature to go back to the well, even if we fell in, or the well ran dry the last time? Just wondering…

Quarantine fatigue

Coming on to nine months of some form of continuous Community Quarantine, it’s to be expected that an element of fatigue would set in. I had lunch with my son last Sunday in the Bonifacio High Street area; and in fairness to the restaurants, I’m happy they were enjoying brisk business.

I can’t say if they’re experiencing that kind of traffic during the weekdays, but on that particular Sunday lunchtime, I’m guessing the owners would have been very happy. Both the al fresco and indoor tables were fully occupied. Yes, the table settings were all COVID-regulated; but one couldn’t help but notice how all the tables were accounted for, and being productive. It was a truly busy lunchtime crowd, and that extended beyond the eateries to busyness on the walkways and pathways of Boni High.

Busy enough that I was feeling uneasy with all the people surrounding us. And that’s why I completely understand why so many are reluctant to leave the safety of their homes. To function on the side of safety and prudence will never be an unwise decision. The virus is still out there; and it can take the smallest of mistakes, forgetfulness, or omissions to make the price paid too dear.

My youngest was smiling as we commented on it, and I mentioned how I belonged to the high-risk Senior Citizen category. I could imagine him internally rolling his eyes or raising his eyebrows; as he knows very well how, despite falling in that category, I’m constantly heading out of my apartment, gallivanting here and there – finding the flimsiest of excuses to head out and do a supermarket, drug store, or bookstore “run.”

To me, it’s a form of maintaining movement, mobility, and exercise of some kind. What I will do though, is avoid anyone getting too near to me. I’ll purposely take a longer route, or look for the less crowded aisle, to get to where I’m going – and if I see a group of people heading my way, I’ll stop and move aside. Those are my “survival tactics;” while we await those first shipments of the vaccine.

In the UK, regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine and a photo opp at a senior citizen care center was arranged last Tuesday. First up was 90-year-old Margaret Keenan; and when the second person was wheeled in, it was an 81-year old named WIlliam “Bill” Shakespeare, and that set social media abuzz with wordplay around the bard’s plays – such as The Taming of the Flu and Two Gentlemen of Corona. A sidebar note of interest for us may be that it was a Filipina nurse, May Parsons, administering the vaccine shots.