Wuhan Diary #21: The Twenty-fifth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 16, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

February 16th, 2020 The Twenty-fifth day of the Wuhan City Closure

When I opened my eyes this morning, the room was so full of sunlight that it seemed that yesterday’s snowstorm had never happened.

If we only could open our eyes and be back to January 1, when this disaster had not happened, if only we could rewind 2020 and get off to a fresh start, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Another medical worker has died. Nurse Liu Fan of Wuchang Hospital died on the afternoon of February 14th. I notice that the official announcements from the media and hospitals in Mainland China do not use the word “died in the line of duty” for medical staff. Instead, they simply say “passed away”. However for police who die because of their epidemic prevention work, they do use the term “died in the line of duty”. Of course, I know why they do things a little differently. They want these medical worker deaths to be less well known in order to reduce their effect on public opinion.

Online rumor reported in Sydney Today that Li Fan died because of inadequate protective clothing available at hospital, infected her family as a result. According to press reports, Wuchang Hospital has denied inadequate protective clothing for medical workers at hospital, police are suppressing this rumor, blaming it on foreign forces trying to forment discord in China.

The authorities will do anything to achieve “virtue capture” of public opinion by “making into heroes” of medical staff even while concealing and letting pass in silence their “deaths in the line of duty” and how all kinds of medical supplies could not be supplied to the hospitals. So do you think the regime really cherishes medical workers? No, they are just tools and a limitless supply of cannon fodder to be thrown into the fight.

Even more desperate are the many “self-appointed paragons of reason and objectivity”

Danghui golden.svg

who infest the Internet in Mainland China. Insisting that they are “dispelling rumors”, they claim that Nurse Liu Fan’s infection was not caused by inadequate hospital protective clothing but that she was instead infected by her parents. I couldn’t be angrier about this. Do you think those people have the Communist Party emblem where their heart is supposed to be?

When I took the college entrance examinations, my mother wanted me to study medicine. Unfortunately, I had no interest in that profession. My mother pestered me about that for many years. Now I asked her wasn’t I lucky that I didn’t study medicine? Mother didn’t say a thing.

  • Liu Fan, a nurse at Wuchang Hospital, died in the line of duty on February 14.
  • Chang Kai, director of the film and television department of Hubei Film Studio, died on February 14. Their parents and other family members also died in this disaster.
  • Duan Zhengcheng, a professor, PhD supervisor and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, died on February 15.

These are one whose names we know. There are many, many countless ordinary people like me who will never again see Wuhan’s cherry blossoms.

Sometimes I just want to hypnotize myself into refusing to empathize with the people caught up in this tragedy. I want to pretend that I have been completely taken over by my defense mechanisms, and become numb and completely indifferent.

But I can’t do it. I know all those place names far too well. Those lives counted up in numbers and those lives not counted. I may have rubbed shoulders with all of them. That voice following a car and yelling “Mama!” keeps coming back to me. As if I myself had cried that out. I still have that pain inside of me.

“When you dear friends become new ghosts, you anger in those evil days turns to the task of remembrance.” These days I have gotten to better understand that verse.

Today I keep on hearing about more lies. A friend who lives in Northeast China told me that he had recently bought a package of face masks and had sent it to Wuhan. But the package of masks was shipped from Wuhan itself!

A nurse friend in a chat group told me yesterday that they had run out of food today. She wrote it just that way “ran out of food”. Nothing to eat.

I don’t have the words to describe the way I feel. Even my ability to get angry is fading away. All I have left is powerlessness, I am just filled with a sense of powerlessness. There is no way that I can help them. I can’t do anything to right any wrongs. I want to scream, “Just go on strike! Don’t work anymore!” But I forced myself to shut up.

I can only write down these few words so that I won’t forget. I don’t even expect other people to remember along with me. What I hope for is that I won’t forget. One day the epidemic will be over. May we never ever forget, once the epidemic is over and we are happily and joyfully celebrating our survival of this disaster, may we never bury the feelings of anger and powerlessness that I feel at this moment.

Yesterday some friends outside Wuhan told me that their company had asked them to make contributions. The could give 100 RMB, 300 RMB, or 500 RMB. I asked them if they could refuse to donate. They said, “That is not allowed.”

I didn’t know what to say. Ever since the epidemic began, I have been telling my friends not to contribute. There is no way we can ever know where that money will go. But those “donations” have also becomes a performance of “the will of the masses is a mighty force”. The intentions of individual human beings have no place there.

Just like those breaking news stories on Weibo social media about people like

  • The elderly blind person who donated 1000 RMB;
  • The elderly trash-picker who gave 9000 RMB; and
  • The elderly janitor from a public building who donated his life savings.

This is such a national humiliation! Is there anything here to make propaganda about?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kaichang.jpg
Hong Kong 01 Report: Chinese film director and four member of his family — his parents, his elder sister and Chang Kai himself died of coronavirus pneumonia during a period of just seventeen days.

When I saw the last testament of director Chang Kai on Weibo. Every word is heartbreaking:

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, complying with the government order, l canceled my reservation for a dinner party at a fancy restaurant. I was forced to take on the role of chef for the joyous meal we celebrated together my parents, my wife and I. We had no idea of the nightmare to come.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, my father started to run a fever, to cough and his breathing became labored. I took home to several hospitals but none of them had a bed available. I asked everywhere for help but still could not find a bed. In despair, we returned home to save ourselves. I stayed by his side as a good son should. After several days of being utterly unable to help my ill father, he died. My father was bitter at having to leave this life. Battered both emotionally and physically, my loving mother’s immune system was weakened and she too was infected and followed my old father in death.

After having attended my parent’s bedside for several days, the cruel coronavirus also began to consume the bodies of my beloved wife and myself. We went from hospital to hospital begging and crying out for help but the words of people like ourselves who have low position in society count for little. We couldn’t find hospital beds. Now that the virus had penetrated deeply our chests, we were past the best point for a medical intervention.

As my breathing faded, we told our family, friends and our son in England: “All my life I have fulfilled my duties as a filial son, as a father, and as a loving husband to my wife and been an honest man! Now goodbye forever to the ones I love and to the ones who love me!”

Last testament of Chang Kai

Some say “ We went from hospital to hospital begging and crying out for help… but we couldn’t find a hospital bed” while others refuse medical help where they can’t get a hospital room suitable to the rank of an agency head.

This place is just too disgusting.

Chinese text

2月16日 武汉封城第25天

早上一睁眼,房间里洒满了阳光,仿佛昨天的狂风暴雪不曾出现过一样。
如果有一天,一睁眼,发现回到了从来没有疫情发生过的1月1日,把2020年重新来过,该有多好啊。

又一位医护人员殉职了,武昌医院的柳帆护士于2月14日下午殉职。我注意到内地的媒体、医院的官方通告,对于医护人员几乎没有用到“殉职”这个词,而是“去世”“病逝”之类的措辞,但是之前有辅警因为防疫工作去世,通稿中全是“殉职”。我当然知道这个细微的差别是出于什么原因,不过就是想淡化医护人员因为疫情殒命的社会影响。

一面无所不用其极地制造舆论道德绑架,将医护人员“英雄化”,一面对他们的殉职遮遮掩掩避而不谈,一面是始终无法到位的各类物资。你们说,这个政权真的对医护人员有多么珍惜吗?不是,只是把他们当作无限投入无限压榨的工具而已。

更绝望的是内地网上大量的“理客中”们还在积极“辟谣”柳帆护士的感染不是因为医院防护服不到位,而是感染自父母。我简直愤怒到无以复加。你们说,这些人该长心的地方,是长了个党徽吗?

当年考大学,妈妈希望我学医,可惜我对这个职业没有兴趣,为此我妈念叨过我好多年。这次我问妈妈,是不是幸亏没学医?妈妈不说话了。

柳帆,武昌医院护士,于2月14日殉职。
常凯,湖北电影制片厂影视部主任,于2月14日去世。
以及他们的父母家人也在这场灾难中去世。
段正澄,华中科技大学机械学院教授、博导、中国工程院院士,于2月15日去世。
这些是我们能看到名字的逝者,还有很多很多不可尽数的如我一样的普通人,他们再也看不到武汉的樱花开了。
有时候我想催眠自己,拒绝与这些悲剧共情,我想装作已经被自身的防御机制收买,变得麻木而无动于衷。
可是我做不到。那些地名都太熟悉了,那些计入了数字和未计入数字的生命,也许都曾与我擦肩而过。那个冬夜里追在车后喊“妈妈”的声音一遍遍再我脑海中回响,就好像是我自己发出的呼喊。那种痛感依然存在。
“忍看朋辈成新鬼,怒向刀丛觅小诗”,我最近好像越来越能理解这句诗的意思了。

今天继续听到荒唐的消息,我的一位朋友,他远在东北的朋友告诉他,他们最近买到了一批口罩,发货地也是武汉。
一个群里的护士朋友昨天还在说,他们今天就断粮了——字面意义的“断粮”,没吃的了。
我不知道还能用怎样的语言形容我的心情,我甚至觉得我愤怒的能力也在渐渐离我而去,剩下的只有无力,满满的无力感,我没有能力去帮助他们、没有能力去改变任何不公,我想大声说“你们罢工吧不要干了!”,但我自己先封住了我的嘴。
我只能写下这些,让自己不要忘记。我甚至不奢求让别人跟我一起记住,只希望自己不要忘记。总有一天疫情会过去,千万不要因为那个时刻劫后余生的庆幸和喜悦而淹没此刻的愤怒和无力。

昨晚有外地的朋友跟我说,他们公司给他们下了捐赠要求,可以捐100元、300元、500元。我问,能不能不捐;她说:不行。
我不知道该说什么。疫情发生以来,我跟每个朋友都说不要捐款,我们谁都不会知道这些钱最后去了哪里。但是当“捐款”也变成一种强行“众志成城”的表演,个人意愿没有任何意义。
就像微博爆出的那些,双目失明的老人捐款1000元、捡垃圾的老人捐款9000元、环卫工老大爷捐了攒了多年的积、八旬老人捐出毕生积蓄……这可是国耻啊!这有什么值得宣传呢?

微博上看到常凯导演遗言,字字剜心:
“除夕之夜,遵从政令,撤单豪华酒店年夜宴。自己勉为其难将就掌勺,双亲高堂及内人欢聚一堂,其乐融触。
殊不知,噩梦降临,大年初一,老爷子发烧咳嗽,呼吸困难,送至多家医院就治,均告无床位接收,多方求助,也还是一床难求。失望之及,回家自救,床前尽孝,寥寥数日,回天乏术,老父含恨撒手人寰,多重打击之下,慈母身心疲惫,免疫力尽失,亦遭烈性感染,随老父而去。
床前服侍双亲数日,无情冠状病毒也吞噬了爱妻和我的躯体。辗转诸家医院哀求哭拜,怎奈位卑言轻,床位难觅,直至病入膏肓,错失医治良机,奄奄气息之中,广告亲朋好友及远在英伦吾儿:我一生为子尽孝,为父尽责,为夫爱妻,为人尽诚!永别了!我爱的人和爱我的人。”
有人“辗转诸家医院哀求哭拜……床位难觅”,有人嫌病房达不到厅级标准拒不就医。
这个地方太恶心了。

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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