Wuhan Diary #4: Eighth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — January 30, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

Eighth Day of the Wuhan City Closure

I got some more bad news. Another friend was diagnosed and has already gone to the hospital. The news came through some mutual friends, so I don’t know yet whether the diagnosis has been confirmed using the nucleic acid test. However, with hospital beds being in such great demand these days, it couldn’t be just a mild case. This friend is younger than me. I don’t know what I can say. I just hope he wins this fight. An office colleague of one of my friends has also been diagnosed. He was very upset but I couldn’t think of anything to say to help calm him down.

Among my friends who seem to be able to accept and understand new information, it seems that the more people understand, the more they feel that all they can do is to put their trust in God and pray for God’s mercy. Without that, what can we do? Have regrets? Why did I go to the meeting that day? Why did I go to see that performance? Why did I want to work overtime?

— But we just don’t know! Nobody told us.

We got word from our friends these past two days that their food supplies are running low or that they are eating instant noodles. This makes me sad. I’ve been asking myself recently: Those two days when I was stocking up, why didn’t I sent a reminder to my friends? Was I being too selfish? Then I remembered that I had been focusing on convincing my parents to wear masks, to trust me, and to start purchasing supplies… Truth be told, I myself didn’t wasn’t too sure of myself when my whole family had doubts about what I was saying and was putting pressure on me.

But what if I had been 100% sure? Would I have chosen to remind them? I’m afraid I’d still have been cautious about doing that, for the more profound reason that I don’t want others to think of me as a gloomy person filled with “negative energy”. The same goes when I am faced with notions that I don’t agree with. I wouldn’t stand up and argue with people.

Although I would inwardly feel like turning my nose up at them, I would instead have a polite smile on my face. Given that I am and for a foreseeable long future will be trapped in such a group or atmosphere, I have to be gregarious and conceal my sharp edges and many of my thoughts. I’ve gotten used to censoring myself and knowing when to keep my mouth shut. I always feel torn apart by these conflicts. I understand full well that I am powerless. Knowing that about myself make me very sad.

Yesterday, I saw someone in our local Wechat group asking for help. This person’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. She lives in the Wuhan suburbs, and is scheduled to go to the hospital in Wuhan for treatment every week. After the abrupt shutdown, they of course not able to find an easy way to enter the city. Delaying her treatments could have dire consequences. We chat group members got very worried. Strangers who have never met put their heads together to create a plan. Some even suggested to help her take her mother all the way to the city border, and have somebody from within the city pick the patient up. With everyone’s help, this problem was solved.

But I couldn’t help but ponder on how many other people would find themselves in a similar situation.

Another friend’s grandmother is nearly ninety. She who lives alone on a university campus in a dormitory for teachers and staff. The school was closed recently when suspected cases were identified there. My friend was worried that her grandmother was left all alone, and reached out to the school and to the community for help, only to be told “we cannot help”. She said she will go there herself tomorrow. This is a hard decision for her to make. She has kids at home. Leave them to go all by herself to an area that closed due to confirmed coronavirus diagnoses is hard.

Getting medical treatment for patients and take care of the elderly are among the many everyday issues that the coronavirus outbreak has made harder.

Many more difficult issues are cropping up as well.

For instance, overnight almost all hospitals in China are searching for medical supplies. This is happening in many places, from the hardest-hit area of Wuhan and Hubei Province including even the national capital Beijing and the cities of Guangzhou and Chongqing as well. It seems as if the warehouses of all the hospitals are empty.

If there had been no outbreak, who could ever have imagined that that would happen? I am afraid that even writers with the darkest sense of humor couldn’t have come up with a story like that.

But now that we know the problem, can we solve it?

Chinese text:

1月30日 武汉封城第8天

又收到一个不太好的消息,一个朋友也确诊感染了,并且已经住院。

因为是从其他朋友那儿听说的消息,现在还不知道是不是通过核酸检测确诊,不过在医院床位如此紧张的现在能够住院,想来应该不是轻症了。

这个朋友比我还年轻……现在不知道能说什么,惟愿他能打赢这场仗。

好友一个办公室的同事也确诊了,他慌得不行,我却组织不了安慰的语言。

对我们这些还算能够接收和理解新知识的人来说,越是看懂的多,越是只能将希望交给上帝,祈求上帝的怜悯。

否则还能如何呢?后悔吗?那一天为什么要去聚会呢?为什么要去看演出呢?为什么要加班呢?……

可是我们不知道啊,没人告诉我们啊。

这两天常常听朋友们说家里吃的东西不多了,或是最近一直在吃泡面。

我很难过。

最近我常常在反省,自己囤物资的那两天,为什么没有提醒朋友们呢?是我太自私了吗?

现在回想起来,那两天我把很多精力花在说服爸爸妈妈戴口罩,说服他们相信我,说服他们去采购……坦白说,连家人都在质疑我、打压我的时候,我没有信心自己一定正确。

可是,就算我有百分之百的信心,我会出言提醒吗?

我想恐怕我仍然会非常谨慎,更深层次的原因可能是——我并不希望让别人认为我是一个“负能量”“心理阴暗”的人。

就像我现在面对不认同的观念,我是不会出言反驳的,我可能会在心里嗤之以鼻,但脸上依然保持礼貌的微笑。

当我现在在、并且可以预测的长期仍然会在这样一个群体和氛围中时,我必须表现得合群,不能表现出自己的尖锐,不能表现自己的很多想法。

我已经习惯了自我审查和适时闭嘴,我常常身处一种自我拉锯和割裂之中,我明明知道,我却无能为力。

对这样的我自己,我很难过。

昨天在本地群里看到有人求助,群友的母亲是癌症患者,住在武汉周边,每周会到武汉的医院做治疗,突然封城之后,自然没有办法顺利进入武汉,如果不能按时治疗可能会造成很严重的后果。

群友很着急,群里素未谋面的大家都在帮忙出主意,甚至有人提出可以帮她把妈妈送到武汉交界处,再找一个好心人送到医院。

好在最后通过大家的帮忙,顺利的解决了这个麻烦。只是我在想,现在还有多少人在面临这样的处境呢。

另一个朋友的奶奶已经年近九十了,独自住在一所大学园区内的教职工宿舍,而学校最近因为发现疑似患者进行了封校。

朋友很担心,不放心奶奶一个人,跟学校和社区联系,希望能得到帮助,却只收到了“无能为力”的回复。

朋友说她决定明天自己去一趟。

我知道,她现在做这个决定也是不容易的,她自己有孩子,独自去一个已经确认感染的区域,这实在不是一件易事。

病人就医、照顾老人,原本是多么平常的两件事。

一个疫情,让多少顺理成章的事情变得不平常了。

不平常的还有很多。

比如,一夜之间几乎全国的医院都在募集物资。从疫情中心的武汉、湖北,到首都北京,再到浙江、广州、重庆……仿佛所有的医院仓库都空无一物一般。

如果这次事件没有发生,谁又能想象得到呢?

最黑色幽默的作家恐怕也写不出这样的故事。

但是现在暴露了,就能解决吗?

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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