Wuhan Diary #10: The Fourteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 5, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

February 5 : Fourteenth Day of Wuhan City Closure

Today is the 14th of the Wuhan City closure.  I have been writing this diary for two weeks now.

I first took pen in hand to help ease my own anxiety and panic.  I didn’t think I was writing something that other people would read. I didn’t think about what I would write or how long I would keep writing this diary.  Even today I don’t know what I will write next or how long I will be able to keep writing.

Sometimes I wonder whether what I write here is too trivial. After all, I have never been on the frontline of an epidemic. I haven’t had to face up to my own panic or any great difficulties (I am very grateful for that).  I am doing no more than protecting the safety and stability of the lives of a small family.  So I wonder if I am over-dramatizing my situation here with my complaints or does what I write really amounts to moaning and groaning by someone who is really doing pretty well?

However, looking at this from another angle, I didn’t have any intention of describing the overall situation. I am writing to give only my own personal perspective — that of an ordinary person in an affected area. I am recording what I I have heard and seen and the daily life of my family and friends to record what I saw, what I recorded, and the daily life between me and my family and friends. Although the scope of my narrative just involves a few hundred people at the very most, they are just the kind of people who now make up most of Wuhan.  So I don’t worry about what I write being merely one aspect or simply just a microcosm of Wuhan.

Ever since I began writing this diary, I have worried that I will be unable to restrain that self-examination that is part and parcel of self-censorship. Will I be filtering out what can’t be said from what can be said and to what extent one should say certain things.  But I have never felt fear because what I write is true. I have not exaggerated nor have I invented anything. Telling “the truth” is what is most important so I am confident that I am doing the right thing.

But something did frighten me today.

When I discussed Fang Bin today with a good friend she sent me a screenshot of a chat. The chat screenshot showed a soldier who said that if he would “shoot him right away giving him the death penalty right on the spot!” My friend, a gentle, beautiful, and kind girl whom I like very much, said “Makes sense to me!”

In that instant a chill pierced me to the bone, planting fear deep into my heart.

This is a country that has always claimed to be “ruled according to the law”.  Yet one can, in this country,  so easily set aside legalities,  and without going through any legal process or trial arbitrarily take the life of a citizen.  I am not pretending to be a foreigner. I know that this happens all the time. My friend, however, a kind and generous university-educated  woman whom I very much like clearly holds that same view.  That makes me shudder with fear. 

I even hesitated several times before writing this down for fear that she would see what I had written.  Yet before this happened, I had great trust in and affection for her.  There really must be a group of people in this land who have barbarism and evil written into their very genes. Has this land been cursed?  

I felt so said. It made me feel all torn apart inside and uncertain.  Recently there have been even more rumors. Especially after the news of the infected supermarket workers spread, there a great deal of discussion about the “the closing of the supermarket” and “the imposition of martial law”.  I can neither believe nor disbelieve these rumors.  Although officials have been “refuting rumors”, ever since the epidemic broke out there have been many “rumors created by official refutation of rumors”.   Distinguishing between the true and the false is very hard.  I can only prepare by assuming the worst intentions and the worst case scenario.  

These past two days, I’ve hesitated to go out and buy some more vegetables and other food to prepare for what may be coming. The recent outbreak news makes me apprehensive.  When I look at photos on the local WeChat chat group I see that many of the local supermarkets are crowded and have long lines. That makes me very worried. Then with my family I went through all our household stocks , even all the ingredients usually used for baking. After my mother made careful calculations we could be reassured that our stocks would be enough to last us a long time and so I gave up the idea of going out to go shopping. However, I recently added many apps for shopping fresh produce to my mobile phone. I will keep in mind the daily opening, order procedure, and delivery rules of each platform for to be ready when I need it. 

Speaking of which, my mother made full use of her talents as an experienced housewife.  In my house, we usually throw away the white radish we buy for our soup. These days, my mother dries it to make salted vegetables. She also opens and washes Chinese cabbage to make it into pickled vegetables. Mother usually likes to eat cakes I bake.  I used to make one or two every week, but mother had mother ordered me to stop baking cakes after the city closed because I was using too many eggs. 

I  saw a video about an apparently infected and needing to be quarantined young mother who kept telling her young daughter there in the room with her, in a sobbing tone, to “Stay away from me” and “You should be good.” Seeing a video, a young mother who seems to be infected and needs to be quarantined, left her young daughter in the room, and said in a crying voice, “You stay away from me” “You must be obedient.”

That made me think back to how just a few days ago I had a bad cough and, fearing that I had become infected, put on a face mask and stayed in my room… What happened then was my mother started crying, scolding me that I was scaring everyone to death and that “If our family has any problem, we’ll face it all together.”  But when she herself didn’t feel well and feared that she was running a fever herself, she put on a face mask and closed herself off in her own room, saying just what that young mother had said in the video “You should get a little further from me.”

There are many different ways that I could discuss my mother’s irrationality.  But it wouldn’t help solve anything.

So I didn’t say anything. 

Information on Wuhan citizen-journalist Fang Bin on Twitter

Chinese text

2月5日 武汉封城第14天





















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.
This entry was posted in Health 健康, Literature 文学, Politics 政治 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Wuhan Diary #10: The Fourteenth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 5, 2020

  1. Asking questions are truly nice thing if you are not understanding anything entirely, but this piece of writing gives nice
    understanding even. https://Www.wooribet.net/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.