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I almost walked home when the quarantine was announced. Here’s what I realized that day.

It was a hot Saturday morning. I have plans as I always do on weekends – updating personal spreadsheets, editing blog entries, scheduling social media posts, among other miscellanies. But the unexpected happened. The power went out and I was left with nothing to do.

I went out to catch some air.

I was enjoying the warm wind, admiring the beauty of the garden the parents set. And the memories came rushing without consent.

It was the day the lockdown was declared.

I was in the office when Duterte announced the quarantine. A broadcaster’s voice echoed over the whole room, reporting the start of quarantine. I drowned it out. There was a mountain of work to attend to, looming deadlines to beat, and expectations to satisfy. I went on, unbothered by the measly notice. I was too busy to care. “It is not that serious,” I said to myself.

Such naivety! Such innocence! I was perfectly oblivious of the doom ahead of me. I did not expect it was my last taste of freedom, the last attempt at a “normal” life, and the last time to live without fear.

Who would have thought that a virus would shake up the world? Would you expect that this new virus would meddle in our ordinary lives? I did not. No one saw it coming. And we were left in the dark to figure things out.

That day was a blur of activities. Everyone was moving. Everyone was doing their best to adjust to the sudden changes. We went on, focused on the tasks at hand. We worked until the evening to finish and polish everything.

I looked at the clock. It was 8:45 pm. We were done. We had to go home.

When we came out of the building, I thought we entered a new world. Not a single soul in sight. It was the first time I witnessed such a scene.

The transportation line was suspended. No tricycle or jeep in sight. We had no personal car. What choice do we have? We walked.

Our trip was an experience on its own. The city was eerily quiet. Haunting. Stores were close. The street’s empty. It was a dystopian scene coming to life. Were we the last people on earth?

Never in my life did I imagine that this would happen. In the passing of years, my hometown is always bustling with life – keeping up with the fast-paced world. Businesses were thriving. People were chasing after a commute trip (or a dream).

But everything changed in a snap.

It took us a kilometer before we saw signs of life. We were not the remaining human beings, after all. The world exists but in a different era.

I know I’d been complaining about the normalcy of my days. Now that fate made a major reroute, I realized I want my old boring life. I wish to go back to the ways things were. I hope when I wake up, everything is the way they were. That it is all a bad dream.

Yet it has been a year now. It is far too long to be a nightmare. Might as well accept the fact that this is now our normal life. This is now the reality.

The power went on. And I snapped out of my reverie. But I can’t shake off the recollections of events from that day. Never will.

This is my pandemic story. What is yours?

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