Peer Review by seaomelette (United Arab Emirates)

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Dear Covid-19

By: a_smol_writer

"Whoa!" I shrieked as my feet swished on the spilled hazelnut coffee, landing myself in a mess. Slumped and drenched in coffee from head to toe, I tilt my head upwards to face dusty piles of overdue worksheets gracefully dancing in the stuffy air. For a fleeting moment they twirled and looped, before inevitably landing flat on the coffee puddle, which was seemingly seeping into the old tiles. At first glance, I was just a messy teen in the midst of conquering Home-Based Learning. Who would've known that there was more than what meets the eye.

Soaked in both caffeine and stress, soft groans were emitted as I angrily stood up, visibly shaking on the outside, slowly cracking from the inside bit by bit as time goes by. With furrowed brows and twitching eyes, thundering stomps echoed throughout the silent house as I hastily grabbed a towel and mopped the spillage, holding a grudge towards the coffee for this sudden build-up of displeasure.

"Where is Yixun?" An irritated face asked, hushing the entire Google Meet. Still feeling in the dumps and sighing loudly, I took a change of clothes and slammed the door shut. The irritated face has now turned to a crimson red shade, imaginably with smoke puffing out of her small ears and bulb nose. Click! The doorknob twisted open, revealing a lazy and improper classmate. "Ms Lim, there she is." A sleepy boy stated, with giggles sprawling across the online meeting as I stumbled to my chair.

"Quiet down!" Ms Lim aggressively screamed, arms crossed and all. "Sorry that I'm late, Ms Lim. I had some trouble setting up my device." I regrettably answered her previous question, yawning as I stuttered. After that ghastly yawn, shocked expressions donned all of the familiar faces I saw on screen. Eyes out of focus, I scrambled with my mouse to search for a problem on my device. "Is it my choice of clothing? Or how I yawned? What is it?" Desperate thoughts like these ran in the back of my head, growing more absurd the deeper I thought.

Ignoring their stunned looks, I lazily reached out for my textbooks, assignments and a pen to start fresh. "Ms Yixun, you dare to spout lies in the break of dawn? We clearly heard and saw what happened earlier. Trouble setting up your device? Why, it was working fine from when you slipped and fell." Ms Lim tilted her head to the side as she impatiently tapped her fingers, waiting for a response. Eyes bulging and mouth agape, I peered at the screen for a better view of the “Options" settings.

My God! My microphone and camera was switched on the entire duration I slipped and cleaned. Biting on my lower lip, I apologised in fear of losing my head, my eyes squirmed shut as I silenced my microphone and switched off my camera, before lifting up a hand to cover my trembling mouth. “What have I done?” I asked myself as I pulled on my hair, embarrassed and disturbed. A great big sigh calmed me down, as I prepared to show my ugly face once again.

As if nothing happened, class went on as planned for the next one hour before it was time for the long awaited lunch break. “Big sis! How was your class?” a foolish and playful little boy squeaked, nudging beside me for space on the dining table. Devouring the lavish lunch made by my dearest mother always had the best taste and brings you warmth, with tasty dishes made straight from the heart.

Because of an incident where my Mathematics teacher fell ill, the enthusiastic class was nullified of all happiness and replaced with boredom as we stared at the piles of unfinished assignments, unwilling to commit ourselves to such a tiring task, or so I think we are. There are a few golden children that finish their homework from the very start and get the entire two months free of work, not bind by the chains of never-ending homework. Then, majority are the normal ones that surface on the online meetings now and then, completing work as they should be.

Lastly, the gangsters and rebellious teenagers in the class almost never finish their assigned work on time, and whose presence was never felt in any of the online meetings. For me, I could be considered someone normal, excluding the piles of work that I rush to complete day after day. “Big sis, let's play!” my carefree brother shouted at the top of his lungs, smiling like it was the end of time.

Grinning from ear to ear, I replied with a nod as I approached him, ruffling his spiky hair.

Maybe Home-Based Learning wasn’t so bad at all...

Through the long and exhausting days was when I learned to adapt to this suffocating but rewarding lifestyle. Even though the workload may be piling up and I may break down at times, but when I turn back, I know that my family is always there for me, smiling and waving as they bypass my messy room. Covid-19 may be affecting our lifestyles in an unexpected way, but we should not be succumb to Covid-19 and let it do as it pleases.

Let's all unite through our screens and face it together, as an individual, a family, a nation and most importantly, the world. If we join hands and work as one, maybe Covid-19 isn't that bad at all. To all those out there struggling, know that someone is always there for you, even if they’re not present beside you physically. Smile and stride forward.

Thank you for reading!  

Hi fellow readers! This is a day into my Home-Based Learning life as my country went into lockdown at the start of the year. Many measures were taken, and it was torture at times but can be rewarding to be at home.

Message to Readers

Hi fellow readers! This was a normal day in lockdown and HBL (Home-Based Learning) from the start of the year. Hope you enjoy it!

Peer Review

I absolutely loved this piece! Your tone was funny and relatable, your descriptions captured the essence of the moment, and your overall message was a welcome slice of sunshine in these trying times.

Your narrative was distinctly hilarious, and extremely memorable at that, but I'd love to see a little more personal reflection. You do a fantastic job detailing your embarrassing coffee accident, and I loved how you tied everything together with a sweet, hopeful conclusion, but I felt that the conclusion got a little lost beneath the narrative. To make things clearer to readers, how about balancing narrative and reflection in relatively equal parts? How about weaving in reflection between your narrative? The uproarious narrative leads into your reflection on the woes of HBL, but how it allows you spend more time with your brother. I'd love to read more about this, so please consider expanding! How do you feel about HBL? You mention "long and exhausting days" - how exhausted were you? How did you feel about the class slackers? What did you miss about regular school? How do you feel spending more time with your brother? Your family? What is the general atmosphere in your home? Supportive, humorous, collaborative? It's up to you how you choose to revise the general structure or interpolate more commentary, and I think this piece could be even more amazing if you balanced narrative and reflection.

All your sentences were well-thought-out and well-crafted, but I think some changes to sentence structure could lift this piece to a whole new level. My main notes are (1) sentence variety, (2) modifiers, and (3) passive --> active. As I've said, your sentences are amazing, but the key idea to remember is variety. Instead of writing a paragraph with similarly structured sentences, try varying length (i.e. short, long, long, short, long, short) and structure (i.e. how about moving this participial phrase here? This prepositional phrase here?). This ties in to my next note: modifiers. You have extremely vivid modifiers, but like real-estate agents say....location, location, location. Be careful about misplaced modifiers! I've highlighted a few of these. Next, try shifting your sentences from passive to active tone. This is where the magic happens *sparkle sparkle*. "The dish was made by the chef" is a great sentence, but how about: "The chef made the dish"? This may not seem like a huge difference, but with active tone, your entire paragraph will become much clearer and livelier.

Your ending was excellently written. As I've mentioned in the previous section, I'd love to see you expand on it with some more personal reflection, but other than that, I thought it was great!

Personal narratives are really tough to write, and as someone who has written tons for school assignments, I think they never get any easier. Yet, you've done such a fantastic job here, and by your next draft, I'm sure it'll get even better than any I've ever written. Writing is a process, and it's all about growing and having fun and revising a lot. Take it easy on yourself, take plenty of breaks, and remember - just have fun! You've got this.

Reviewer Comments

I loved reading your personal narrative, and your message was so uplifting. Good luck with the competition, and wishing you all the best with your writing endeavors! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me, and I'll be happy to help! :D