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COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: A day of arranged mourning

Ai Xiaoming's yard. (Photo credit: Ai Xiaoming. Used with permission.)

The following post is the sixteenth in a series of diaries written by independent filmmaker and feminist scholar Ai Xiaoming and feminist activist Guo Jing. Both are living in Wuhan at the initial center of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the links to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth parts of the series.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

This installment was written between April 1 and April 4, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.

Ai Xiaoming: April 1, 2020

昨天开始,我把原来放在家里的绿植一盆盆搬到外面院子里。因为室内花草越来越萎缩,长了几年的芦荟开始烂根。
这是一个被辜负的春天,我们小区里梨花开了,落了,满目新绿。接着,门前的樱花盛放。往年这个日子,我就会给家里的阿姨盛装拍照。现如今,阿姨回不来;我们的车也走不出武汉。这几天广为流传的视频里,为了出境复工,在九江大桥上已经上演了一场战斗。昨天,在北上离鄂的出口信阳,鄂牌车也排了长龙;全都不得出境。

I started moving the plants from my apartment to the yard yesterday. The plants are withering. The aloe's root is starting to rot.
We did not have the chance to enjoy the springtime this year. The pear tree in our residential district bloomed, the blossom withered and now only green leaves remain. The cherry tree also entered full bloom in front of my door. I used to take photos of my helper every year around this time. However, my helper cannot return to work, and we cannot drive out of Wuhan. Recently a viral video showed a conflict on the Jiujiang Bridge as Jiangxi police stopped people from Hubei (the province where Wuhan is the administrative capital) entering. Yesterday, there was a long car queue near Xinyang highway exit because cars with Hubei car plates were not allowed to leave.

Guo Jing: April 1, 2020

这几天我再次被疲惫袭击,也不太有食欲。白天勉强做一些工作,坚持写日记。到了晚上,我就觉得浑身无力,脑子都不转了。这几年,这种疲惫感时不时地出现,这大概跟“不可抗力”太多有关。
我们经常看到一些活动因为“不可抗力”取消,一些平台因为“不可抗力”而消失。我会愤怒和不满,可有时候无处发泄,想要逃避也无处可逃。
怀有社会理性的人大概都经历过类似的状态,因为我们生活在充满“不可抗力”的社会中。最近几年,身边很多人都得了抑郁症,他们的抑郁都有社会性的原因。
没有人有灵丹妙药,有人和朋友互相倾诉,有人做心理咨询,有人通过运动缓解情绪,大家都在挣扎着前行。
过去一周都是阴天,早上久违的阳光出现了。
桐桐(我之前写的是彤彤)家长在群里说:“405的嘟嘟小朋友,今天阳光明媚,要不要下楼玩呀,桐桐小朋友十点钟下楼等你哦。”405的住户回复到:“好啊”。
桐桐家长一会儿又在群里发信息:“嘟嘟小哥哥,我们下来了”,还说:“胖丁的家长,把胖丁搞下来玩,哈哈”。
在桐桐家长的召唤下大家纷纷下了楼。我看到这个对话,一股温暖涌上心头。在城市中,很多人住在一个小区,但并不认识,然而在封锁中有一些人竟逐渐认识并熟悉了起来。

I felt extremely tired these last few days and lost my appetite. I tried to do some work and insisted on writing my diary in the daytime. In the evening, I felt exhausted and my brain could not function. In recent years, the feeling of powerlessness keeps coming back. I think this is related to the presence of the “irresistible” [political environment].
We see activities canceled due to the “irresistible” and online platforms disappeared due to the “irresistible”. I am angry and resentful, but there is no way for me to let go of my emotions or escape this reality.
Any rational people living under this “irresistible” society would have similar feelings. In recent years, many of my friends have developed depression due to this reality.
None of us has found a resolution yet. We talk to friends, go to psychological counselling, do exercises to relieve our symptoms. All of us are struggling to move forward.
It was cloudy this past week. We finally have a sunny day this morning.
Tongtong’s parents sent a message to the chatroom, “Dudu from Room 405, do you want to go downstairs to play in the sun? Tongtong will wait downstairs for you at 10 AM.” Room 405 replied, “Yes”.
After a while, Tongtong’s parents sent another message, “Dudu, we are downstairs.” They added, “Panding's parents, please bring Panding downstairs to play with us.”
Many people went downstairs in response to the call. I was touched by these simple exchanges. Very often, we do not know each other even if we live in the same residential district. But now, because of the lockdown, people are getting closer.

A kid played in the yard in a sunny day. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

Ai Xiaoming: April 2, 2020

樱花繁盛,拍了一张照片,然后用“形色”这个软件去检索;查到老舍赠日本戏剧家木下顺二的诗句:
小院春风木下家,
长街短巷插樱花。
十杯清酒千般意,
笔墨相期流锦霞。
“笔墨相期”,想起前一向时我们在“且来歌咏”群里的邀约,疫后我们要相聚,要在一起朗诵诗,听黑胶……

I took a photo of cherry blossom and search the photo on the flower detection app Xingse. Upon searching, I found a poem written by Lao She for Junji Kinoshia, a Japanese screen writer:
“In Kinoshita’s yard, we enjoy the spring breeze.
On the streets, cherry flowers are everywhere.
Drinking sake, we exchange our thoughts.
We meet to share writings, and they are spectacularly beautiful.”
The phrase “Meet to share writings” reminds me of an invitation in a chatroom called “Come to sing”. The invitation said that after the pandemic, we should gather together to read poems and listen to vinyl records…

Guo Jing: April 2, 2020

The yellow iris by a lake. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

现在想要出小区就要被量体温。尽管我知道我没有发烧,但每次被量体温的时候我心里都很担心。我担心如果体温枪出现问题,测出来我的体温高了,那就比较麻烦。我会被隔离在家,还是被拉去某个地方隔离?我会被小区的人排斥吗?
其实,我目前差不多也是被单独隔离的状态,而且现在发烧或感染新冠肺炎在武汉应该是可以得到救治的。如此想来,被歧视和排斥似乎是更可怕的事情。
早上10点0分,我扫码。量体温,然后出小区。
我路过一个公交车站,有五六个人在等公交,大家排队上车,先扫健康码,车上有人用体温枪给大家量体温。
我骑到了内沙湖公园,一眼望去湖边已经全是绿色,湖边的黄鸢尾已经开了,竟有点不适。
有个便利店在恢复运营中,很多商品都没有上架。一些小店铺虽然开门营业了,但店铺门口会用自行车或电动车拦着入口,有人想买东西就隔着门问或指。
有的路都被蓝色围栏隔断了。蓝色围栏成为了武汉的标志物。
我11点59分回到小区,又被量了一次体温,体温是36.1℃。

Whenever I want to go out of my community, I have my temperature taken (at the gate). Although I know I don't have a fever, I am still worried — if the thermometer is broken and shows that I have a fever, I would have trouble. Will I be quarantined at home or elsewhere? Will I be scrutinized by my neighbors?
My present condition is not much different from quarantine [as I live alone]. Currently anyone with a fever or who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 will get the proper treatment. My anxiety, hence, is more about social discrimination and exclusion.
At 10 AM this morning, I scanned my health code. After my temperature was taken, I stepped out of the gate.
I walked by a bus stop where five to six people were in a queue. Before getting on board, they had to scan their health codes and have their temperature taken.
I biked to the Shahu Park. The plants around the lake have turned green. The yellow iris by the lake has bloomed. Strangely, I feel at odds.
A convenience store was just reopened. Shelves were half empty. Some stores were reopened, but they put bicycles or electric bikes at the entrances to block them. If people want to shop, they need to order from a distance.
Some roads were blocked by blue gates. Those blue gates have become Wuhan's distinctive street view.
I returned to my community at 11:59 AM. I had my temperature taken again, it was 36.1 degrees Celsius.

Guo Jing: April 3, 2020

Outside a reopened store. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

解封一个城市的交通容易,想要把封闭的心打开却是一件难事。尽管武汉的疫情在好转,很多人还在担忧疫情的二次爆发,精神还在受折磨。大家现在都如惊弓之鸟,交流复工经验的群里有个人买了一个新的冰箱,说:“为可能第二次爆发准备了一个大冰箱”。
很多人已经停工了七十多天,复工也困难重重。武汉人的生活越来越拮据,政府要有相应的措施保障人们的生活,不然新的社会悲剧就会发生。很多人都在呼吁政府给武汉人发补贴,但政府一直没有回应。

It is easy to lift traffic restrictions, but harder to reopen our sealed hearts. The pandemic has passed but many are still worried about the return of a second wave. They suffer like startled birds. In a chatroom, people exchange their experience of work resumption and someone said s/he bought a new refrigerator, “I bought a big refrigerator to prepare for the second wave of the pandemic.”
Some people have not worked for more than 70 days and still cannot return to work. Many in Wuhan are short of money. The government should do something to safeguard our lives, or there will be a social tragedy. Many have urged the government to subsidize people in Wuhan, but there hasn't been any response yet.

Guo Jing: April 4, 2020

今天是个被安排的集体哀悼日。有人去了武汉的公祭台,普通人是不能进入会场的,进入会场的也都是男性。一些人写的哀悼文也被404。
今天是阳光明媚的一天。每个阴天我都在盼望阳光,但今天的阳光却有些讽刺。我对被安排的集体哀悼极度地厌恶,不想参与,隔离自己,暂时逃离荒唐的世界。

Today is set as a public mourning day. Some people went to the public memorial ceremony. Common people were not allowed to attend. Those who could enter the venue were all male. Some wrote eulogies online but many were censored and removed.
Today is a sunny. I always look forward to a sunny day when it is cloudy. But the sunlight today feels so ironic. I hate this arranged public mourning and don't want to be part of it. I want to be isolated and escape this ridiculous world.

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