Tonight, Mr Gold Poovan Devasagayam will finally get to hug his mother, whom he last saw nearly two years ago before he left for France.
Little did the 43-year-old Singaporean know that when he left his mother, 74, at her home in Kuala Lumpur to fly to Paris to study French in February last year, Covid-19 would force them apart for 21 months.
His course was disrupted due to lockdowns and he returned to Singapore in March this year to continue his studies online. But he could not visit Malaysia as it had shut its borders to foreign travellers.
This evening, however, the freelance marketing trainer will finally board a Scoot flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport and see his mother a few hours later.
"She was very, very happy to hear that I am finally going back," Mr Devasagayam told The Straits Times. "She said she will cook for me every day, I haven't had her food for so long."
He will also get to see his sister, nephews and nieces, whom he visited on a monthly basis before the pandemic.
Mr Devasagayam is among the thousands of Malaysians and Singaporeans in the Republic who will finally reunite with their families because of the quarantine-free Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) schemes for air and land, which started yesterday.
Pre-Covid-19, Singapore-Kuala Lumpur was the busiest international air route in the world, with about 40 flights daily and an average of 7,000 arrivals a day at Changi Airport.
The Woodlands Causeway was one of the world's busiest border crossings before the pandemic. Including the Tuas Second Link, the two crossings saw about 415,000 travellers daily.
Mr Devasagayam, who is not married and is close to his mother, Madam Pathmavary Valunmailum, has missed important family events, including the death of a close family member.
"That was tough. My mother was devastated and I was sad because I couldn't be with her to support her through it all, while managing (funeral) logistics remotely and dealing with my own challenges," he said.
Mr Devasagayam plans to be in Malaysia for more than a month.
"I've been counting down the days after getting the VTL flight. I am going to hug my mum tightly and cry when I see her."