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COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: Collateral damage

Children played in the playground wearing face masks. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. 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, twelfththirteenth, 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 5 and April 8, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.

Guo Jing: April 5, 2020

我几天没出门有点闷得慌,下午4点就到楼下走一走。本来没打算要出小区,因为我在抗拒出门被审批和记录。下楼后我被机器的噪音所包围,在小区里转了几圈还是忍不住出了小区。日常生活里真是充满了很多微小的斗争和挣扎
我往江边走去,走到红绿灯的地方,看到对面有人在等红灯,我也停下来,然后意识到红绿灯开始重新起作用了。
今天江边很热闹,江边也重新开始了施工,不过没有大型机器在运作。江边有钓鱼的人,跑步的人,还有很多家庭都“出洞”了,江滩边小孩的游乐区、健身区有很多戴着口罩奔跑、游玩的小朋友。
今天看到了武汉4月3日起开放婚姻登记的新闻,回家的时候就拐到家附近的婚姻登记处。我走到婚姻登记处已经5点了,门还开着,不过没有人。门口贴着“公告”、“流程图”、“离婚协议书”等文件。
我走上去问工作人员:“你们什么时候开门的?”她说:“先扫码预约”。
“我不办理,就是想问问现在来登记的情况,结婚的多,还是离婚的多”。
“都多”

I didn't go out in the past few days and felt so bored, so I went downstairs at 4 PM. As a symbolic resistance to the authority's registration and approval of our physical movements, I wanted to avoid going outside the residential district. Yet our district was surrounded by machine noise [coming from a nearby construction site] and so I was forced to leave. Our everyday life is so full of minute fights and struggles.
I walked towards the riverbank, I stopped at a traffic light when I saw someone on the other side stop. Then I realized that the traffic lights were working again.
Today it was busy on the riverbank. Construction by the river has started, but there was no heavy machinery being used yet. People were fishing and jogging along the river. Many families came out. Many children were playing in the playground with face masks.
Today I read the news that the Wuhan government will let couples apply for marriage registration starting from April 3. On my way back home, I stopped by the marriage registration office close to my home. When I arrived at the counter, it was 5 PM. It was still open, but I did not see anyone. There were documents including public announcements, flow charts, and a divorce agreement template form posted on the door.
I walked in and asked the staffer, “When do you open?” She answered, “You can make a reservation online with your health code.”
“I do not plan to apply for anything. I just want to know what is happening — are there more marriage registrations or divorce registrations, for instance?”
“We have a lot of both applications.”

Guo Jing: April 6, 2020

有个网友看到我的日记后,今天也写下了“我的疫期生活”。这是一种奇妙的联结和改变。
很多人问我“坚持行动的动力是什么?”人的改变是其中一个。我们的发声和行动像是喇叭,它在向外扩散声音,它必然会影响到一些人,有些人会在某种契机下成为我们的同路人。

A netizen wrote “my life during pandemic” after s/he read my diary. This is an amazing connection and change.
Many people asked what has driven me to continue taking action. To make people change is one of my motivations. Our statements and actions are like amplifiers, they spread voices and affect others. With some luck, some of [those affected] may work with us in the future.

Guo Jing: April 7, 2020

Three women having a picnic by the river. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

昨天跟朋友聊天的时候,有人说到,很多人在闲鱼这样的二手平台上卖东西,准备离开北京、深圳等大城市。
我们这些外来者为了寻求个人发展来到大城市,可大城市的生活成本比较高,很多年轻人的收入只能勉强保障生活。
而如今,很多人看不到希望,不得不回到曾经自己努力离开的小地方
今天阳光很好。中午,我出小区去江滩散步。我隔了一天出门,柳絮已经开始满天飞了。大家都戴着口罩,也不会出现不小心吸入柳絮的意外了。
有三个女人围着一个石凳在野餐,石凳上摆着油焖小龙虾、田螺、圣女果、绿茶等,她们有说有笑地吃着,特别欢乐。我默默地咽下自己的口水。
我去了超市,进入前要扫码、被“打一枪”、登记姓名和电话。超市的供应很充足,米面粮油、蔬菜、肉、速冻食品、消毒液、洗手液等都很齐全。
有个人穿着防护服、戴着口罩和面罩,全副武装地在买菜。

Yesterday someone in a chatroom said that many people were preparing to leave for big cities like Beijing and Shenzhen, and that they were selling items on second-hand platforms.
We are outsiders entering these big cities for career development, but many young people can barely earn enough money to support their lives there as living expense are so much greater.
Now many people cannot see their future in big cities and are forced return to the places that they tried so hard to leave.
Today was a lovely sunny day. I left my residential district and went to walk by the river around noon. I have been out every other day and today willow catkins were flying around in the air. As everyone is wearing a mask, we aren't too bothered about inhaling catkins this spring.
Three women were having a picnic around a stone table with crayfish, river snails, tomatoes and green tea. They talked and laughed. I envied them.
Before I entered the supermarket, I had to scan my health code, have my temperature taken and register my name and telephone number. The supermarket had a sufficient supply of food, including rice, noodles, oil, vegetables, meat, frozen food, and sanitizer.
I spotted a person shopping in the supermarket wearing full protective gear including protective clothes, a face mask and a face shield.

Someone shopping in a supermarket with full protective gear. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

Guo Jing: April 8, 2020

今天,武汉恢复了和外界的交通流动,被称为“解封”了。从疫情的角度来看,解封当然是一个重大的进展,说明武汉的疫情在好转。可武汉市内什么时候可以解封?被禁锢在恐惧中的人们什么时候可以解封?点亮武汉”再次制造了一种集体主义的浪漫,武汉城内人们的困境被掩盖和抹杀。
疫情带来的后遗症和次生灾难还在继续。有些新冠肺炎痊愈的人身体会留下一生的后遗症,他们未来的生活如何保障?住在其它地区湖北人外出遭受的歧视武汉人能幸免吗?那些因为疫情破产的公司、失业而难以找到新工作的个人该何去何从?这些社会问题的解决需要动用大量的社会资源,个体很难做到,需要政府制定全面的措施去应对这些社会问题。
不过,我的封城日记终于可以停下来了。
开始并坚持写77天日记不是我计划中的事情,但却有很多意外的收获。写作是一种对话,和自己的对话,和他人的对话。这77天里,我既是亲历者又是观察者。我观察和记录自己的情绪、周围的人和事。
我停止写日记,但不会停止发声,也依然期待和更多人建立联结,一起成为社会改变的一部分。

Today, the traffic between Wuhan and other parts of the country returned to normal. It is called “reopening”. From the perspective of pandemic control, this is a significant progress, showing that the epidemic in Wuhan is fully under control. However, when can we lift the lockdown inside Wuhan city? When can people open their hearts that are sealed with fear? “Light up Wuhan” [an official ceremony on the reopening of Wuhan] is another performance of collective romanticism that covers up the anxiety and pain of people in Wuhan.
The sequela and collateral damage of this pandemic have continued to affect us. Some people that recovered from COVID-19 may suffer from sequela for the rest of their life. How can we safeguard their lives? Will the discrimination towards people from Hubei Province diminish? What is the future of those companies filing for bankruptcy due to the pandemic? How about those who lost their job and failed to find a new job? It requires a huge amount of social resources to tackle all these problems. The government has to take a leading role to figure out a comprehensive set of measures to address these issues.
Alas, I can stop writing my lockdown diary, finally.
I did not plan to write this diary for 77 days. But in the process I have a lot of unexpected rewards. Writing is a kind of conversation, a conversation with myself, and a conversation with others. I am both a survivor and observer of 77 days of lockdown. I observed and recorded my emotions, the people surrounding me and the things happening around me.
I stopped writing the diary, but I will not stop speaking up. I still hope to build connections with more people and contribute to positive social change.

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