Wuhan Diary #26: The 30th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 21, 2020

Today is February 21, two days since the end of the “tightening up of the city closure”, a process that lasted three days. According to media reports, February 19 was the last day of the “tightening up of the city closure”. Considering that the leadership and grassroots cadres had had a tough time, working day and night, so I waited another two days, and finally I felt that today I could say, “Thank you to the Party and the State for your faith in the health of my family members. Since the city closure, nobody and no organization in any shape, way or form has sought to find out how my family is doing. I also deeply thank myself who has worked so hard to rescue myself, to work hard to protect myself. Currently, my family has no sign of infection and has stored a sufficient quantity of supplies and so we haven’t troubled the Party and State at all.”

The day before yesterday, the 19th, it was said that the newly arrived Party Secretary Wang Zhonglin mingled with the people incognito. I don’t understand why wherever he goes on an “incognito visit” he goes with a large entourage and take so many pictures. But since the leader is sparing no effort and working hard, I think I should welcome this. The day of the Secretary’s incognito visit, all the small supermarkets in the community were closed for the entire day. I had thought it was because of the “strictest community closure in history” but they opened again yesterday and explained that they had closed because leaders were making an “incognito visit”.

From the start of the strict closures of the communities I saw, on the WeChat groups of my friends and in the media, pet owners starting to ask for help.

At the start of the city closure, many pet owners who had gone home to the countryside,

had, as usual, left behind at home enough food and water for their pets to have while they were away. However, when the city closed unexpectedly, the owners were caught in their hometowns and the pets at home. I remember writing about this in the first few days of my diaries. Fortunately at the time I saw many volunteers and groups spontaneously coming forward to offer their help. According to the information I have seen online, as of February 15th, 64 volunteers and employees of the Wuhan Society for the Protection of Animals had provided uncompensated assistance in more than 1400 cases in seventeen days.

Even so, I still kept seeing reports of volunteers arriving only to find that pet stuck at home had died. Now that an stricter closure which has isolated communities from one another has been implemented,

I am afraid that these little guys staying in the epidemic area face an even more desperate situation.

This is not something that should be ignored. Even looking at it apart from the “human” angle, Wuhan now is gradually getting warmer. I the little animals starve to death at home, the decomposition of their bodies will bring bacteria and insects. That will not be good for a residential environment that has already gotten very bad.

I believe that the simplest solution to this problem is for the communities to assume responsibility for providing assistance. I know very well, however, judging from the present situation, that that would be completely impossible.

Today I ate the last Godiva chocolate in our home. Ever since the city closure, we haven’t bought any junk food. What we had was what remained from before. These chocolates we got at the end of last year from a good friend who had just come back from the United States. They knew that we loved that brand of chocolate. I was only too pleased not to tell her that we can buy it in Wuhan as well. There have been all kinds of shortages since the city closure. Express deliveries have stopped. The remaining bar of chocolate was the last straw I could clutch at. Unfortunately I had told myself that I could only eat one square of the chocolate bar each day. Today I ate the last square.

My good friend returned to Wuhan at the end of December and then went to Beijing in early January and then in mid-January returned to the United States. Shortly thereafter came the large-scale outbreak of the new coronavirus in Wuhan. Since it was 14 days from the day she had left Wuhan she was to leave China, she left on the originally planned date and then self-quarantined herself upon arrival for 14 days. During that time, she criticized some other people, saying that many who had returned to the United States from China, including some returning from Wuhan had been running all over the place. Some had invited her to their gatherings. She would say to me “Why don’t they self-quarantine at home? How could they be so reckless?”

Several days later, when I often saw people online calling out foreigners for discriminating against Chinese people, discriminating against Wuhan people, I always thought back to what my friend had said. Chinese people always like to complain loudly about being discriminated against. Sometimes when they aren’t being discriminated against they like to make things out as if people were discriminating against them. Why don’t they ever stop to think that they themselves, or people in their group, have done some things that should be discriminated against. Or to put things another way, because some foreigners “look down on you” as an individual, doesn’t necessarily mean that an entire group is “being discriminated against”.

I don’t know if the fact that people so much like to see themselves as “victims of discrimination” is a sign of nationalism or not. However I really do think that nationalists are a sad group. The only thing they can be proud of is that the genes they were born with determines everything. They can’t claim any values that they can be proud of as individuals before the whole wide world. If a Chinese person is unfortunately a nationalist as well that is even sadder. The result is a strange creature who, even if he is able to physically able to travel outside of China, still clings to an extreme Chinese nationalism. Nationalism is such a big illusion!

Twenty-nine-year-old Dr Peng Yinhua died in the line of duty of new coronavirus pneumonia on February 20th. Photo via Baidu.

Yesterday evening, Dr. Peng Yinhua of Wuhan’s Jiangxia District First People’s Hospital and Union Jiangnan Hospital Respiratory and Critical Care Department died in the line of duty after treatment for an infection by the new coronavirus failed. His wedding date, originally the eighth day of the Lunar New Year, had been put off because of the epidemic. Now it has been put off forever. I just can’t imagine the heart-rending sorrow of his fiancee.

People following the news from Mainland China will not be unfamiliar with the name “Lin Shengbin”. In 2017, because their housekeeper had stupidly and maliciously set fire to their home. Lin’s wife and his three daughters all perished.

Hangzhou newspaper, examining Chinese Red Cross records, found that Lin Shangbin contributed 5000 face masks worth 90,000 RMB (USD 15,000) to Wuhan.

This past few years Mr. Lin has been doing considerable charitable work. During this epidemic he quietly donated nearly 100,000 RMB worth of supplies. Hangzhou media discovered his name on a list of contributors and so it made the news. Today I was a WeChat posting he made a week ago on February 14, Valentine’s Day.

He wrote:

The virus has taken many lives and left behind many heart-broken family members. We will have to be strong to get through this. I don’t dare give up hope. I try to find new ways to motivate myself, even if I have to make light of difficulties, we do need to somehow find a way to laugh as we make our way through all this.

Spring has come. The willows are blooming by West Lake and peach blossoms cover all the mountains and the plains. The land is warming in the sunshine. All this beauty means that their lives are beginning once again. They have never left us for they are always with us.”

This passage, both tender and sad, yet contains both hope and strength. Ever word and phrase recounts the story of Mr. Lin himself. I haven’t been following Mr. Lin’s WeChat microblog because I fear that if I were to see his name come up unexpectedly, it would awaken in me all the sadness that I associate with his name. Sometimes I do however make a special visit to his webpage to look at what he has written. He really is a very good and warm human being. A man like him shouldn’t have to suffer what has happened to him in this world.

If after death there is no heaven and no hell, then that would be very unfair indeed to Mr. Lin and his family, to Dr. Peng, and to both the many who have died and the many who have not died this winter.

Chinese text

2月21日武汉封城第30天

今天是2月21日,距离为期三天的“全市拉网大排查”已经结束了两天,按照新闻里的报道,19日是“拉网清底大排查”的最后一天,考虑到领导们和基层干部们都非常辛苦,日夜操劳,所以我特地多等了两天,到今天我终于可以说:感谢党和国家对我和家人身体健康情况的信任,封城至今没有任何人、任何机构通过任何形式了解我家情况,也非常感谢我自己,积极自救、积极自保,现在家人没有任何感染症状,也囤积了足够的物资,没有为党和国家添麻烦。

前天,19日,据说新来的王忠林书记在市内“微服私访”,我不太明白,为什么“暗访”走到哪儿都有一大堆人跟着,还能拍那么多照片,但既然领导不辞辛劳,我想也是应该欢迎的。书记暗访当天,小区门口的小超市全关门了,我还以为是“史上最严格的小区封闭”的原因,结果昨天又开门了,搞了半天原来是迎接领导“暗访”才关的。

自从更严格的小区封闭禁令开始,我在微信朋友圈、自媒体上又开始看到宠物主人的求助信息了。

封城之初有很多返乡过年的宠物主人,按照当时正常预计的情况给留在家里的宠物预留了几天的食物和饮水,可是突然而来的一眼看不到头的封城后,主人们滞留外乡,小动物们被困在家里。我记得在最初几天的日记中我曾经记录过这些,好在当时也看到有不少志愿者团体自发帮忙。最近看到网上公布的数据,至15日武汉市小动物保护协会的68名志愿者和工作人员,在17天里完成了无偿上门服务1400多次。

即便如此,我也不止一次看到志愿者上门后发现宠物已经困死家中的情况。现在更严格的小区封闭措施出来以后,志愿者既出不了自家的小区,也进不了宠物主人所在的小区,这些滞留在疫区中心的小家伙们,现在恐怕面临着更加可怕和绝望的境地。

这不该是件放任不管的事情,哪怕自私的站在“人类”的角度,武汉现在的气温已经在逐渐回暖了,如果小动物饿死在家中无人清理,放任腐败导致细菌虫蝇滋生,绝不是一件对现在已经很糟糕的生活环境无害的事情。

我想说,最直接的解决这个问题的办法应该是由社区来承担救助职责,但是我同时也非常清楚的知道,以现状来看,是绝对做不到的。

今天吃完了家里最后一颗Godiva巧克力。自从封城以来,家里没有了垃圾食品,我全靠它们来续命了,这些巧克力还是好友去年底从美国回来专程带给我的,她知道我最爱这个牌子的巧克力,我也乐得不告诉她其实武汉也能买到。封城后各种物资稀缺,快递也停发,剩下的一袋巧克力成了我的救命稻草,可惜就算要求自己每天最多只能吃一颗,到今天终于还是吃完了。

好友12月底回到武汉,1月初去了北京,1月中旬从北京回美国,回去不久武汉的新冠肺炎大规模爆发,那个时候距离离开武汉已经超过了14天,她还是按照离开中国的日子算起,又自觉在家呆了14天。那几天她经常跟我吐槽,好多从中国回美国,甚至从武汉回美国的人到处跑,还在约她出门聚会,“为什么不在家里隔离呢?怎么这么不自觉!”

后来几天,经常在网上看到有人指责外国人歧视中国人、歧视武汉人,我总能想起朋友跟我说的这些。中国人总爱嚷嚷受到了歧视,有时候没有歧视创造歧视也要被歧视,可是为什么不能反省一下,自己或自己人是不是做了什么值得被歧视的事情,或者,外国人可能只是“鄙视”你一个人,不要随便代表一个群体宣布接受“歧视”。

我不知道热爱“被歧视”这件事算不算民族主义的一种表现,反正我真心觉得民族主义者是很可悲的一个群体,唯一值得炫耀的是他们在诞生时基因决定的一切,作为个人对于这个世界毫无可以拿出来吹嘘的价值。如果一个中国人,很不幸的同时还是一个民族主义者,那就更可悲了,常常就会生出一些肉身翻墙了还无比爱(中)国的怪胎。真是魔幻极了。

昨晚,武汉市江夏区第一人民医院、协和江南医院呼吸与危重症医学科的彭银华医生,因感染新冠肺炎医治无效,殉职。

彭医生原定农历正月初八举行的婚礼因为疫情延期,从此便是无期了。不敢想象他的未婚妻现在是怎样的肝肠寸断。

如果关注大陆的新闻,应该对“林生斌”这个名字不会陌生,2017年他的太太和三个儿女因为自家保姆愚蠢而恶毒的一把火,全部离开了人世。

这几年林先生做了很多慈善,这次疫情他还默默捐赠了近十万元的物资,媒体在杭州市的捐赠清单里看到他的名字,才把这件事公布出来。我今天看到他在一周前的14日发的微博,那天是情人节,他写道:

“病毒夺走了很多人的生命,留下的家属悲痛不已,但唯有坚强才能面对。不要放弃信念,试着寻找新的动力,哪怕在粉饰痛苦,也要笑着活下去。
春天来了,西湖旁发芽的绿柳,漫山遍野的桃花,阳光下的暖阳,所有美好的一切,都是她们生命的重启,从未离去,一直都在。”

这段文字太温柔、太悲伤,却又蕴含着希望与力量,字字句句仿佛都是在诉说着林先生自己。我没有关注林先生的微博,因为我害怕刷微博的时候会猝不及防看到这个名字,唤醒与之有关所有的悲伤。但是我偶尔会专门点进他的主页看他发的内容,这实在是一位太善良和太温柔的人,这样的人不该得到这个世界如此的回报。

如果死后的世界没有天堂和地狱,对于林先生和他的家人,对于彭医生,对于很多死在了这个冬天和没有死在这个冬天的人,该有多么不公平啊。

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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