The novel coronavirus has thrown the world of Punjabi Mums and their families topsy-turvy. The ensuing circuit breaker in Singapore makes this year an unforgettable year, including Mother’s Day celebration tomorrow (10 May).
The first major impact came with the panic buying. Many a Singaporean rushed to NTUC and Sheng Siong. The famous Mustafa was announced closed with immediate effect.
Atta, dhaal, ghee, achaar, dahi and all other essential Punjabi ingredients came close to extinction. Smaller Indian grocers tripled their prices. Panic became real and there was a sense of urgency in the air. Mums began calling their immediate helplines – sisters and sahelis – to find out who had stockpiled capati flour.
On Facebook, one Punjabi Mum commented bluntly: “We are not like them, we will die eating Maggi!”
She got a reply from another mum: “The temples [gurdwaras] also close but their storeroom filled with dhaals. They should distribute to us.”
While some started hammering their husband’s phones to go for island-wide “QBB” hunt, other Mums pressured their kids to go to online marts and discussion forums!
Fortunately, for some, they knew Punjabis returning from India in special flights. They instructed them not to fill their luggage with Punjabi suits, go for kitchen ration.
“Buy as much ‘Basmati’ as possible. Your son’s wedding 100% postponed, so no use bringing back your kurteh. There is nowhere to wear and go!” read one correspondence, via WhatsApp, leaked at an active Sikh gentleman’s kutth (kutu in Malay) group chat.
To alleviate the Punjabi meals predicament, some families met the market demand by selling home cooked capatis and dhaal makhani. Not sure how these overnight home entrepreneurs obtained extra stocks, but well, social media witnessed many happy home taken pictures of staple Punjabi food with customised chicken nuggets, potato wedges and other instant fry options.
Punjabi Mummy Ji’s were managing the kitchen problem well until the next bomb was dropped right on them: Circuit breaker extended to June 1st and immediate lock-down of all beauty parlors and hair salons. It was made clear that home visits were a big NO, so all the helpers and female students from India trained in ‘threading’ and what not, had to stay put at home.
Some women poured their distress online. One Instagram entry reads: “My eyebrows will join into one big straight line and white hair will grow like ‘hantu‘!” (Hantu is ghost in Malay).
No solution in sight, yet. Expect to see long lines and many smiling home beauticians moonlighting on Sundays!
Now, what to do with Mother’s Day Celebrations? The date has multiplied in popularity over the years, with heartfelt effort put in by children to reward their Mums with excellent restaurant dinners, parties, gifts, shopping escapades, massage and spas, or even local staycations and quick Batam getaways.
After the last lohri gig, some ladies-wings were planning to make Mother’s Day 2020 a memorable one.
One Mrs Singh told her fellow committee members: “My Mother’s Day party lengha was bought in February but don’t know why this stupid virus come and attack us!”
So with macro level celebrations down and out, the onus and pressure now bounces back entirely on the micro. Families have to overcome the depressing claws of Covid-19, but many still remain clueless how.
I asked around to find out what contingency plans they have come up with. Some families are trying their best to convince their Mummy Ji’s into performing Tik Tok giddha videos. Last minute attempts to buy gifts is problematic too; it’s never easy finding that perfect gift for these special occasions.
Well, it seems Covid-19 and the entailing Circuit Breaker is a reset button for many of us who have drifted far away from simpler things in life.
This Mother’s Day 2020, let us spend quality time with our Mummy Ji’s and exchange engaging conversations. The fancy restaurants can’t play host, but the comfort of your homes can. Recall back what ‘comfort food’ your Mummy Ji just enjoys eating most at home, and let that be the main course. The same with gifts. Since “essential” has been the essential term this season, grab what Mum needs most and she will be the happiest person among all of us in 2020!
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
My tribute to Punjabi aunties in Singapore (Asia Samachar, 30 June 2018)