S M Ong: When the coronavirus comes to my neighbourhood
On Saturday, I finally caved.
I bought a box of 50 masks for $35 from a pop-up store in the basement of Yew Tee Point (actually, it was more like a pop-up table).
So each three-ply mask costs 70 cents.
I wonder whether I might have overpaid.
With that kind of money, I could have bought plenty of Asian flat croissants (more commonly known as "prata" to you plebs).
Unlike many people, I didn't join the long queues to stock up for the zombie apocalypse when the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition level was raised to the colour of the US President's face last month.
I never "sia suay" one.
Admittedly, I have been rather smug about it.
I believe I can't possibly get the coronavirus since I'm too poor to travel, too godless to attend church and too anti-social to be in close contact with another human being for 30 minutes.
I'm more likely to get pregnant from sperm in a swimming pool or become the next prime minister of Malaysia.
So while I have been washing my hands with soap as advised, I have also been touching my face like crazy, which is not advised. (It's a nervous tic, okay?)
But that sense of invulnerability was snapped to dust last Friday.
My Thanos was the news that two new confirmed Covid-19 cases reside in Choa Chu Kang - one of them on the same street as me!
That's literally too close to home. He could even be living in my block. Who knows? That information wasn't released.
To reassure residents, my Member of Parliament, Mr Alex Yam, said in a Facebook video: "So far there's no evidence of a community spread within our town."
He added that the town council had done "one additional deep cleansing" of common areas as a precaution.
"Therefore, there is no need for alarm. There's no need to panic," he said.
You know that scene in Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio tells the Japanese guy not to think about elephants, which makes the Japanese guy think about elephants?
That was my MP telling me not to panic, which made me think about panicking.
And he said it again later in the video. So if I wasn't panicking yet, I was reminded a second time.
But I managed to resist this unintended reverse psychology and the urge to hide under the covers of my bed and never come out.
However, I still felt the need to do something - anything - even if it's just to give me the comforting illusion of control over a situation that is out of my control.
I bought the masks.
They were manufactured in Indonesia, which means they must be good since the country is so far "virus-free".
The masks have flowers on them too.
So even if they don't protect me from Covid-19, at least they look pretty.
That's 35 bucks well-spent. Or so I keep telling myself.
I just wish I could stop touching my face though.
Or thinking about elephants.