For Mathavi Mahamani, 52, from Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara, Petaling Jaya, and her family of seven, life goes on as (new) normal as they prepare for the conditional movement control order (MCO) that will be implemented tomorrow.
“Of course we’re worried about the pandemic, firstly, because of the safety and health concerns. All the cases are in PJ and KL, That's very close to home, and too close for comfort.
“But, we’re also worried because of economic reasons," says Mathavi.
Mathavi works as a cleaner in Petaling Jaya. She usually goes to residents’ homes to clean once or twice a week. She has been working as a cleaner for 35 years, since she was 17 years old.
“During the movement control order (MCO) earlier, I couldn’t go out to clean (because of the police roadblocks), so I was without income for two months. My husband also has no salary as he’s retired,” she says.
“Then, during the first conditional MCO, I returned to cleaning,” she says. “But it was not easy because a few of my clients lost their jobs and source of income, so they couldn’t afford to hire me any longer.
“Now, it’s the second conditional MCO, and I honestly don’t know what to expect. Although cleaning is considered as 'essential services' during the previous conditional MCO, a letter from the employer is required for me to go out to clean.
“I’m still waiting to see what will happen and if there are any further announcements about this,” she says.
Mathavi rides her motorbike to work and she says that she's also anxious every time she goes out now.
“We try not to go out unless absolutely necessary. Usually, we (my husband and I) will go to the wet market or sundry store once a week to buy provisions even during the recovery MCO, so we plan to continue this,” she adds.
“I’m glad two persons per household are allowed to go out to buy necessities, and not just one because we’ve to buy enough to feed seven mouths for a week, so it’s a lot for just one person to carry,” she says.
Mathavi’s husband S. Krishnan, 60, used to work as a lorry driver.
They have four children: two girls, aged 27 and 19, and two boys, aged 24 and 23. The three elder children are working (from home) and the youngest is in college.
“We’re fortunate that we’re able to save enough and support our children through college and my eldest girl had a full JPA scholarship to study accounts in Universiti Malaya because she got straight A’s in her STPM,” says Mathavi.
Her 74-year-old mother also lives with them.
“Even though our children are still working (from home), we don’t know how long the pandemic will last and what the future brings. There is always that anxiety,” Mathavi admits.
“What we learnt from the earlier MCO is to save money and only buy things that are necessary,” she says.
Mathavi cooks for her family every day.
“During the day, I’m cleaning houses, so I only cook at night. I will cook extra for dinner and the rest, we’ll keep for the next day (breakfast and lunch),” she says.
Now that her husband is retired, he helps with the cooking, she adds.
“I know most people feel that having the conditional MCO is inconvenient, but we think it’s a good idea because there are so many Covid-19 cases cropping up now,” Mathavi and Krishnan concur.
“Since businesses and essential services are still operating, the effect is not so bad. It’s just a matter of staying safe when going out,” says Krishnan.
“But the children may feel bored because they can’t go out,” he says.
“Our two sons like to play football and futsal, which they won’t be able to from tomorrow onwards,” he adds.
“It’s safer that they stay home. Our children usually take public transport – LRT, MRT or bus – so they’re more ‘exposed’ and the two younger boys ride their motorbikes,” he says.