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Impact 0171: Musician surviving COVID-19

Farhan Shah · 11 September 2021
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Reader’s Note:

This letter was written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as part of Dear Covid-19. Though some of the events and details in this letter may have changed since then, we hope to remember those in our community who stepped up when it mattered most. Continue to keep up with them on their social page @farhanshahfs.

Dear COVID-19,

“Symptoms of vertigo, anxiety and insomnia”.

Those were the words I never thought I’d Google during the circuit breaker.

As an extrovert who feeds on social interactions as a means to recharge, the circuit breaker period truly wasn’t in my favour. Unlike my introverted friends who were coping well during the time, I was experiencing real cabin fever.

We were unprepared physically, psychologically and emotionally. Nobody saw you coming.

2020 was supposed to be a monumental year for me in music.

I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my music in December last year just before you arrived. Many things were planned prior to your arrival to mark this special occasion. 

Plans were put on hold. Shows were postponed or cancelled. Music releases were halted. Finances were compromised. It is demotivating for sure, but I didn’t work hard to build something only to let it be destroyed by you.

However, this is not a letter of disappointment or to express my displeasure towards you. 

Instead, I want to thank you.

Thank you for forcing me out of my comfort zone. Thank you for making me uncomfortable. Thank you for making me think of new things that I had never thought about prior to your existence.

Artists like myself have been producing or live-streaming our shows on respective social platforms to connect with our audience and stay relevant. This is all done with whatever resources are available to us.

In addition, media producers are also constantly looking for uncomfortable yet innovative ways to create digital and television content. Even businesses that have never considered e-commerce or delivery options have looked at ways on how to commercialise their products and services online.

Not too long ago, I started volunteering with a determined bunch of Singaporeans to pick up the shattered pieces left behind. I have been involved in the swab operations and have swabbed more than a thousand foreign workers to date. Being in non-porous personal protective equipment (PPE) and N95s with gloves taped around my hands for long hours, is daunting. However, what motivates me every day is the eager look on the faces of these workers who could not wait to be swabbed because they were physically and emotionally jaded from being quarantined.

Looking back, 2020 has in fact already been quite a monumental year for me and many of us. It is still an ongoing battle, but we have been smart enough to turn this crisis into an opportunity to become stronger and wiser.

Thank you for making us the fighters we never thought we could be.

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