Freedom From Fear by Junior Win

Since the time the covid-19 was far away from Rangoon (Yangon), Burma, I bought one packet of masks at a reasonable price for just in case. When I met some friends who came from China and they had a problem buying masks, I gave them share all the masks that I had. I thought Yangon was safe! When the virus threatened Yangon, the price of one mask came too high. That’s not fair! I decided that I would never buy a mask if it was not a reasonable price. What a stubborn person! That’s why when the authorities warned us to wear masks if we went outside, I had no mask left! I still do not want to buy a mask the price too expensive.

(I sew a mask with my father’s handkerchief, and with a needle and thread. At that time I did not have a sewing machine.)

(Drawing by Maung Yit.)

When the covid 19 started reaching in Yangon, the government announced the closure of schools, public events (including Water Festival), gatherings and religious events until 30 April 2020. The Yangon government on April 3 urged people to stay at home during the 10-day Thingyan Festival holiday and not to go outside except for buying food and medicines. The unfortunate victims found covid-19 were sent to hospitals to get treatment and their houses and the place near their residence were strictly quarantined. The Stay-at-Home was still alive for a month or two, so far.

The symptoms of Covid-19 we could not avoid easily. Fever or chills, cough, fatigue, muscles or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, etc (whatever you can name!). I dared not even cough when I was outside. People might look at me as their enemy. Coughing was, I think, not easy to stop when it happened. It happened unintentionally. Sometimes my throat itches suddenly. I kept my mind on the area of itching. That is the quickest way to stop coughing. I learnt it from my experience of meditation.

(‘A heavy worries lies lead upon me, And yet I would not sleep.’

(Drawing by Maung Yit.)¨

During the pandemic situation, I noticed that I became overwhelmed by fear, made me frightened a threat of the covid-19. It did not pass easily. It started to disturb my daily life. Whenever I coughed, or had a sore throat, or headache, the fear aroused, and I became nervous. I cleaned my hands again and again, or drank hot water too much, etc. The most frightening fact was, I was worried my father to be sick because of me, because I the only one going outside. I obeyed whatever health-care I learnt from the online information. After weeks and weeks, my behavior became worse. Fear became more powerful, and I could not sleep at night. I tried to do meditation, but I could not sit long and could not concentrate my mind better. The day I went outside for buying food once per two weeks was the day I was in hell. 

(My heart leaps up when I behold, the sewing machine now at home!)

(Illustrated by Maung Yit.)

I thought I had to do something new to feel less fearful. I needed to change my mind. I bought a second-hand sewing machine. I concentrated my mind to sew bags. I drew the designs and tried to make them look good. I forced my mind busy sewing. Thanks to my grandma who taught me how to sew when I was a little. I had no more time to watch the news on TV and read newspapers or social media. Within one or two days, I could sleep! Surprisingly my mind became normal. I could think fairly and reasonably on any purposes. 

(I sew many bags. I used it when I went outside. I also gave my bags to my relatives and my cousins as present I did not consider they liked it or not.)
(Drawing by Maung Yit.)

Days became normal again, and I was not afraid of Covid-19 any more. (Don’t worry, I am Ok!) I still obeyed what the  authorities warned, and I protect myself by clean my hands frequently, or wore masks if I went to crowded places.