Family bonding in lockdown: Using tech to work and stay connected with family


  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 02 May 2020

A simple workout becomes a bonding activity for Abdul Hashem and his son at their Menara City One condominium.

As most Malaysians adjust to the new normal with the movement control order (MCO) in effect for six weeks now, there are some who have been coping with stricter restrictions imposed following the discovery of Covid-19 cases in their location.

For those placed under enhanced MCO, it has been challenging to remain confined to their homes for days on end. But for some, it has given them a chance to grow closer to their loved ones.Sri Murni Flats

The 800sq ft apartment has always been cramped for pasar malam trader M. Azhar Ariff and his family of six.

But Azhar, 43, his wife, Maizatul Hafizah Mohd Jan, 41, and their four children aged between 16 and five, have always been able to adjust as they were busy with work, while the children went to school.Azhar playing the guitar to keep his children, Aisya Umaira (right), 10, and Zara Zahirah, five, entertained while under lockdown.Azhar playing the guitar to keep his children, Aisya Umaira (right), 10, and Zara Zahirah, five, entertained while under lockdown.

However, after more than two weeks of being housebound, they are beginning to feel the stress of being cooped up in a small space.

“I do feel suffocated at times, but this is just a small price to pay for my family’s health and safety, ’’ Azhar said.

Azhar’s flat in Taman Sri Murni, Kuala Lumpur, was placed under enhanced MCO on April 20.

The area in Pusat Bandar Utara and around Pasar Borong Kuala Lumpur joins Menara City One (March 31), Selangor Mansion and Malayan Mansion (April 7) and Masjid India (April 14) as the fifth area in the capital city placed under added restrictions since the MCO came into effect on March 18.

“Prior to that, I was the one going out to replenish grocery supply, but now we can’t go out. We are grateful that food is being delivered to our doorstep by the government and private donors, ” he said.

“I am able to save money, but the challenge is to keep my children occupied and mentally healthy.

“I make sure that they, especially my younger ones, keep reading, writing or drawing so that their minds stay alert, ” Azhar said, adding that he had put up a white board in his flat for the children to let loose their creativity.

Selangor Mansion Residents Wong CK, 28, and her family do their best to keep their hopes up despite being under lockdown at Selangor Mansion.

Wong, who lives with her parents and sister, said they take the time to check in with each other throughout the day.

“We are not even able to step out of our unit as health officers have discouraged us from going outside and it is not very clean.

“So we have to try to find things to occupy our time inside, ” she said.

She said most of the time, her mother would try to come up with new recipes with their limited provisions.

“We are provided with food three times a day, so it is not an issue. But sometimes for a bit of variety, my mother will experiment a little, ” she said.

Her father, meanwhile, has taken to catching up with friends and family online.

As accountants, Wong and her sister feel fortunate to be able to work from home.

“We have been doing fine so far, although there has been little information about when the enhanced MCO will be lifted.

“Sometimes, we see buses driving away with suspected Covid-19 patients and we get worried.

“Hopefully, the government will be able to update us periodically and not leave us in the dark, ” Wong said.Menara City One

Dr Nik Nur Eliza Mohamed, 43, has now spent more than a month in lockdown at her apartment at Menara City One in Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Nik says she is lucky to be living in a spacious apartment with a big balcony that overlooks Dataran Merdeka.Dr Nik says she is lucky to be living in a spacious apartment with a big balcony that overlooks Dataran Merdeka.

Menara City One was the first building in the capital to be placed under enhanced MCO after 17 people living there tested positive for Covid-19.

Like thousands of people in the city, Dr Nik and her husband have been working from home, developing a routine as they patiently wait for the restriction order to be lifted.

“We were lucky that my children, all three of them, were on holiday at their grandparents’ place in Seri Kembangan when the order came, and that they have a proper backyard with trees to spend their quarantine days in.

“I am also lucky that unlike others who are locked down in cramped quarters with no proper ventilation, my 1,600sq ft apartment comes with a big balcony that overlooks Dataran Merdeka, ” said Dr Nik.

Dr Nik’s unit, which is in Block A, faces Dataran Merdeka while the Block B folk get a view of Petronas Twin Towers.

During the first two weeks, she was very busy trying to deal with thousands of frantic queries from residents, essential delivery arrangements as well as communicating with the authorities because of her position as a member of the building’s management committee.“Waking up to many missed calls and messages was my routine for the first week.Wong's father catching up with family and friends at their flat in Selangor Mansion.Wong's father catching up with family and friends at their flat in Selangor Mansion.

“I was bogged down when there were screening sessions, food aid delivery from Social Welfare Department and embassies, and if there were new positive cases.

“I was also juggling my university assignments online as I am currently doing my Masters in Health Research Ethics programme in University Malaya, ’’ she said.

As the days passed, things got less hectic for Dr Nik as she and her husband enjoyed simple meals together, ordering food delivery once a week, chatting with her children online and watching Korean dramas on Netflix.

“My children call me using WhatsApp video and they regale me with their daily routine staying with their grandparents, ’’ she said.

Down the corridor from Dr Nik is Joshua Ng, who has been in lockdown with his parents aged 59 and 60.

“My dad and mum are from Seremban and they were visiting me when we got locked down together, ’’ said the 29-year-old lawyer.

“It was a blessing in disguise for me because we all got to be together.

“Dad and I usually start our day as early as 6.30am, do our exercises and start working on our computers.

“We stop for meal breaks, with food cooked by mum, ” Ng said.

And when they are done for the day, Ng retires to the balcony to tend to his little herb garden where he has planted curry leaves and chillies.Rania, seen here with husband Kashif Ali Khan, says she has settled into a routine of cleaning, cooking and making sure that her two kids do their homework everyday.Rania, seen here with husband Kashif Ali Khan, says she has settled into a routine of cleaning, cooking and making sure that her two kids do their homework everyday.

Over at Block B, Rania Ranjeet Abdullah has settled into a routine of cleaning, cooking and making sure that her two children – Muhammad Zuhaib, six, and Muhammad Zaid, four – do their homework every day.

“We pretty much got used to living under quarantine, except that I find it very troublesome that the online delivery service refuses to deliver to our condo, ” said the 37-year-old retail manager.

Rabiah Begam Kassim, 39, also said the enhanced MCO turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it was a chance for her young family to bond.

With her husband Abdul Hashem Kalam and three-year-old son Abrisam, Rabiah said previously, the couple were too busy to interact much with each other but this has since changed with the forced confinement.

“Our previous lifestyle did not allow us much time to be together as a family because of commitments.

“Now, my day starts at 5am when we perform our prayers, then I do the daily house chores such as cleaning and cooking, ” she said.

Rabiah, who works in customer service, said by 9am she would be ready to sit in front of the computer to start work.

When she is on the clock, her husband takes over caring for Abrisam.

Sometimes, her son sits next to her as she does her work, a luxury that she would not have been able to experience before this.

“Our days are never boring as there are a lot of things that we can do even when stuck at home, ” she said.

Rabiah added that she too had gotten into the dalgona coffee craze and was now making it almost every other day.

“Of course, I miss meeting my family and friends but this has also been a time of reflection as we come together as a family, ” she said.

Rabiah added that all the residents at Menara City One were looking forward to being released from quarantine soon.

During the first two weeks, she was very busy trying to deal with thousands of frantic queries from residents, essential delivery arrangements as well as communicating with the authorities because of her position as a member of the building’s management committee.“Waking up to many missed calls and messages was my routine for the first week.

“I was bogged down when there were screening sessions, food aid delivery from Social Welfare Department and embassies, and if there were new positive cases.

“I was also juggling my university assignments online as I am currently doing my Masters in Health Research Ethics programme in University Malaya, ’’ she said.

As the days passed, things got less hectic for Dr Nik as she and her husband enjoyed simple meals together, ordering food delivery once a week, chatting with her children online and watching Korean dramas on Netflix.

“My children call me using WhatsApp video and they regale me with their daily routine staying with their grandparents, ’’ she said.

Down the corridor from Dr Nik is Joshua Ng, who has been in lockdown with his parents aged 59 and 60.Ng tending to his herb garden at Menara City One.Ng tending to his herb garden at Menara City One.

“My dad and mum are from Seremban and they were visiting me when we got locked down together, ’’ said the 29-year-old lawyer.

“It was a blessing in disguise for me because we all got to be together.

“Dad and I usually start our day as early as 6.30am, do our exercises and start working on our computers.

“We stop for meal breaks, with food cooked by mum, ” Ng said.

And when they are done for the day, Ng retires to the balcony to tend to his little herb garden where he has planted curry leaves and chillies.

Over at Block B, Rania Ranjeet Abdullah has settled into a routine of cleaning, cooking and making sure that her two children – Muhammad Zuhaib, six, and Muhammad Zaid, four – do their homework every day.

“We pretty much got used to living under quarantine, except that I find it very troublesome that the online delivery service refuses to deliver to our condo, ” said the 37-year-old retail manager.

Rabiah Begam Kassim, 39, also said the enhanced MCO turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it was a chance for her young family to bond.

With her husband Abdul Hashem Kalam and three-year-old son Abrisam, Rabiah said previously, the couple were too busy to interact much with each other but this has since changed with the forced confinement.

“Our previous lifestyle did not allow us much time to be together as a family because of commitments.

“Now, my day starts at 5am when we perform our prayers, then I do the daily house chores such as cleaning and cooking, ” she said.

Rabiah, who works in customer service, said by 9am she would sit in front of the computer to start work.

When she is on the clock, her husband takes over caring for Abrisam.

Sometimes, her son sits next to her as she does her work, a luxury that she would not have been able to experience before this.

“Our days are never boring as there are a lot of things that we can do even when stuck at home, ” she said.

Rabiah added that she too has gotten into the dalgona coffee craze and now makes it almost every other day.

“Of course, I miss meeting my family and friends but this has also been a time of reflection as we come together as a family, ” she said.

Rabiah added that all the residents at Menara City One were looking forward to being released from quarantine soon.

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