Hindsight 2020: Malaysians recall their worst and best moments of 2020

Even in the doom and gloom of the pandemic, there were bright moments that brought smiles to our faces.

In Hindsight 2020, we look at how Covid-19 has rendered this a dystopian year.

THE year 2020 was a horrible one for most of us. A global pandemic upended our lives, while so many others lost theirs. Many notable figures also passed away, many businesses saw their last day.

But life went on. Some of us fell in love, some got married or even had their first child; others got their first job, or had a uniquely warm and human moment.

To remember the tragedies and celebrate the joyous moments, The Star invited our readers to share with us the worst thing that happened to them in 2020... and the best thing!

These are their stories:

Lim San Shien, 20, law student

The worst thing that happened is when all university classes were shifted online. That made it very difficult to meet our friends, and it made me reminisce about the good old times when we could hang out and have fun.

The best thing that happened to me was when I was crowned the Johor State Varsity Icon of Year 2020. It spoke volumes about my effort and active participation in both academic and co-curricular activities. My articles were also published in various major papers. I was also interviewed by the press for the first time when I received the award.

We should see this pandemic as a blessing in disguise because we are able to spend more time with our family members, develop new skill sets, besides being grateful and cherishing the little things we have in life.

Prakash R. Jakathesan (right), 41, executive officer at Penang Hindu Endowments Board

The best part about 2020 was our book launch in March. The book, Tiffin: An Untold Story, highlighted our multiple cultures and traditions. It displays almost 180 different types of tiffin carriers around the world from the 1800 collection to the latest one.

The worst part about 2020 was that we were not able to sell the book after its launch on March 7, even though we did our best to promote it. Here's hoping 2021 brings us luck.

Archana Patrick, 39, former senior editor/content writer turned freelance writer (left in picture)

I had the opportunity to expand my writing portfolio as a freelancer (thanks to working from home!). This was definitely a blessing in disguise for me in 2020, coming from a legal/ publishing background.

Being one of the most reflective years I’ve had so far, 2020 has taught me to treasure self-care and the simple things in life – family and supportive friends. A close friend and first-time mom-to-be made it a point to keep in touch during the initial lockdown period (even in the wee hours of the day!), and more importantly, continues to be a close confidante.

The worst thing that happened to me in 2020 were the career uncertainties and not being able to cross off my travel bucket list before hitting a major age milestone.

Norhazwani Jamiran, 30, housewife

The worst thing that happened in 2020: I couldn't go back to my hometown to see my own mother as I usually used to do once a month, because of the MCO!

The best thing happened in 2020: I got pregnant in July 2020 with my second son after three years of waiting!

Shalini Namasivayam, 33, lecturer

The worst of 2020 will be Covid-19. Not stating the obvious, but apart from the virus harming lives, I got to learn more about people's bad sides – which were equally as bad as the virus. Deadly! People I trusted all these years decided that a stab on the back was all I needed. Despite the virus, harm was what they wanted.

However, in the worst moments, there were some kind souls who helped me get through it. But, it was not easy.

The best thing about 2020 was Thaipusam in Penang, it was my first time. Getting the chance to serve people food was the best moment of my life. That satisfaction was just above and beyond. There was so much love that day. A very beautiful event.

Lau Wei Yiang, 19, student

It has been a very bad year for me because it was the year that I poisoned ties with my neighbour. I had a very bad conflict with my neighbour whom I knew and spent quality time with every weekend. He has not had a conversation with me for eight months, making my weekends dull since the incident on May 9. As a result, I feel heartbroken and wonder if he will talk to me again.

One good thing in 2020 was my involvement in the preparation for my alma mater’s Sports Day. I still maintain a good connection with my alma mater, Nobel International School, and assisted my sports house, Bullseye, in preparing for Sports Day. That happened in January and February, before Covid-19 rocked the boat. Our team was leading in the results.

Keshni Uthaya Surian, 15, student

When the lockdown started, I was ecstatic because school holidays started very early and on top of that, PT3 was cancelled! I suddenly had an abundance of time and I decided to use this time to work on my hobbies and spend quality time with my family.

I managed to master my baking skills during this time, and even baked a cake for a family member's birthday – they loved it!

Before the pandemic, I didn't have much time to spend with my family because I buried myself in schoolwork and tuition. But now, I get to watch TV, do house chores, have lovely meals, and even reminisce about the good old times when we were younger. We had some great family-bonding moments.

The worst part about 2020 was when I couldn't visit my grandfather. We would usually pluck fruits and flowers and spend time with all our cousins. Now, we can only do video calls. I miss them badly and I hope to be able to see them again soon.

Another challenge that I faced was online classes. I found it difficult to focus when staring at the screen for prolonged periods. I get very distracted by social media, especially. Also, it is sometimes very difficult for me to understand what is being taught online. It is a lot easier to ask questions in person.

Lalithambika Bhaskaran, 57, caregiver

Varumayin Kodomai, Modumayil Tanimai” goes Tamil saying, or "The poorest of poor is being old and lonely".

This, indeed, is the scariest part of being old. Even though Covid-19 was unforeseen, we know that being old is inevitable and as hard as we try to "stay young", we still grow old.

My mother passed away during the lockdown. Travelling was not allowed. I opted not to attend her funeral, but I have no regrets as I spent a good year with her before she breathed her last. It was not easy living with a "very strong old person", a nickname I gave her.

She was indeed as strong as Hercules. All her daughters were either living far away or staying away because of me. Despite that, there was not much I could do because I am wheelchair-bound myself.

Sometimes, there is nothing you can do but let the rain pass, and wait for the sunshine; the same goes for Covid-19.

Jessie Yong, 39, business development manager

Throughout the pandemic, I would say I've gained more than I lost. I spent more time with my beloved family, we got to cook together and have fun. Family bonds are definitely stronger than before. I also found my passion and decided to take it a step further.

On the flipside, the worst thing about 2020 was having to take pay cuts. Although I find it ridiculous, I am happy to see how a company treats its employees through these tough times, as we are all “full force” supporting the company, but it seems like we were never appreciated. It is good to know.

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