Thanatopsis — 4 April 2020

該內容僅提供英文版。

Viral Alarm

The Fourth of April 2020 marks the day for ‘sweeping the tombs’ 掃墓, a time in which respect is paid to the recently deceased, loved ones and forebears. Known since ancient times as Qingming 清明, ‘Clear and Bright’, it is commemorated annually on the Eighth Day of the Third Month of the traditional lunar calendar.

On 4 April 2020, the government of China’s People’s Republic held a formal national ritual of mourning for those who had died as a result of the 2019-2020 coronavirus epidemic. The following anonymous work is one of the numerous parallel or ‘counter-commemorations’ that appeared on the Chinese Internet in which people remembered, without government fanfare or ‘messaging’ victims of the Covid-19 epidemic that started in Wuhan, Hubei province in December 2019, spread throughout the People’s Republic from January 2020 and has now enveloped the world.

Each line refers to an anecdote or report that was circulated independently on the Chinese Internet at the height of the epidemic in the People’s Republic. We have annotated a number of the lines.

Tragically, one must presume that as the pandemic spreads ever more greater mayhem and death, similar compilations will be made by people who are outraged by political arrogance, systemic incompetence, religious mania, business cupidity, or merely in response to gross social and individual arrogance in countries as far-flung as Australia, Iran, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Spain, India, and so on.

— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
4 April 2020

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Related Material:


4 April 2020: at the stele commemorating Wang Guowei 王國維 — a long-dead scholar celebrated for possessing ‘A Spirit Unfettered and a Mind Independent’ 獨立之精神, 自由之思想 — on the campus of Tsinghua University, Beijing. Source: Geng Xiaonan 耿瀟男

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4 April 2020
As a Nation Mourns

In Remembering the Dead,
We Confront How to Live

2020年4月4日
全國哀悼

逝者當奠,生者何艱

Translated by Geremie R. Barmé

We remember:

That woman who beat a drum on her balcony protesting her illness.

那個坐在陽台上敲鑼鳴病的人。

The person who ran after the hearse soulfully crying ‘Mother!’

那個深夜追著殯車淒厲地喊著「媽媽」的人。

The fellow who was reading [Francis Fukuyama’s] The Origins of Political Order in a detention centre that had only one toilet for a thousand inmates.

那個在一千人共用一個衛生間的隔離所看《政治秩序的起源》的人。

The lorry driver who was left to wander the highways unable to go home.

那個開著貨車在高速路上流離失所沒有歸處的人。

The person who died seated and they were embraced by family members as they waited for the body to be collected.

那個坐著死去被家人抱住頭等待殯葬車的人。

That person in enforced isolation who starved to death.

那個隔離在家中被餓死的人。

The pregnant woman who, despite having spent 200,000 RMB couldn’t take it any more and gave up on further treatment.

那個懷有身孕花了20萬最終因無力承擔而被放棄治療的人。

The person who, fearful they might infect their family, dug a grave before committing suicide.

那個怕傳染給家人而給自己挖好墳偷偷上吊的人。

The person who couldn’t find treatment anywhere and, worried that he’d infect his wife and child, jumped out of the vehicle to end it all.

那個無處就醫又怕傳染妻小從橋上一躍而下自我了斷的人。

The ninety-year old who waited until they could get a bed for their sixty-year old son in a hospital and stayed at his side for five days and nights.

那個90歲高齡為60多歲兒子排到一張床位而在醫院守了五天五夜的人。

The person who wrote a comment on a WeChat appeal for a hospital bed: ‘I’ve just lost a family member so there’s a free bed here. Hopefully I can help you.’

那個在求醫院床位的微博下評論:「我家人剛過世了,空出一個床位,希望能幫到你」的人。

That person who abused a person hysterically pleading for help as it might upset others. They then ended up doing the very same when they were in trouble themselves.

那個先是罵著求助者嚎喪影響心情隨後又只能以同樣方式呼救的人。

The person desperately seeking help who, upon learning to use WeiBo, first asked ‘How are you?’

那個為求助而現學會用微博發了一句你好的人。

That person who covered their mouth when being questioned by the authorities who wept out of a sense of shame since they couldn’t buy a face mask anywhere.

那個被盤查時用圍巾捂住嘴,因買不到口罩而羞愧哭泣的人。

The person who used orange peel as a face mask.

那個用橘子皮當口罩的人。

That lonely individual who went to the Civil Affairs Bureau to report that their whole family had died — father, mother, grandfather and grandmother.

那個爸爸媽媽爺爺奶奶全家都死了只好孤身一人去民政局報到的人。

The person who donated all their wages to buy face masks for others.

那個把抵工錢的口罩全部捐出去的人。

The person who wrote the words ‘I face death calmly’ and ‘It is time for me to make a sacrifice’.

那個寫下「安心赴死」 「是時候奉獻出自己」的人。

The person who died twice: the first time was when he had to write the words ‘I can, I understand’ on a police confession that he then had to verify with a fingerprint. [This is a reference to Dr Li Wenliang]

那個寫下「能、明白」並印上紅手印死了兩次的人。

The worker who, having laboured day and night building the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan [to treat coronavirus patients] went back to his town only to be treated with contempt as someone who was a bearer of the plague.

那個不眠不休建設完火神山醫院返回村裡,卻被自己村人視為瘟神的人。

The person suffering from leukemia who begged to be euthanised because they were blocked from going to Beijing from Wuhan for a bone marrow transplant.

那個身患白血病需要去北京進行骨髓移植,卻沒有途徑出城,痛到想要安樂死的人。

The person who, dressed up for their own funeral, died at home after having been refused a bed in any hospital.

那個穿著壽衣打電話求一張床位未果,崩潰倒下的人。

The person who was refused their regular dialysis due to the epidemic and, after their mournful pleas at the entrance to their residential area went unheeded, jumped to their death from a building. The corpse lay out in the open for six hours.

那個因疫情做不了血液透析,在社區門口哀求無果跳樓自殺,自殺後6小時遺體才被拉走的人。

The person forced to write the sentence ‘A face mask must be worn at all times when outside’ one hundred times by the local police.

那個被派出所罰寫100遍《出門一定要戴口罩》的人。

The person who was left bleeding after having been beaten for not wearing a face mask.

那個未戴口罩被扇巴掌扇出血的人。

The person who pleaded that they were starving to death and that his wife and child were at home hungry who said: I’m sure you must all have plenty of food to eat yourselves.

那個喊著我餓啊我要餓死了,老婆孩子都在家挨餓,想必你們肚子是飽的吧的人。

The bee keeper who, having been forbidden from moving his bee hives because of the strict restrictions imposed during the epidemic, committed suicide out of despair.

那個以養蜂為生、因疫情導致蜜蜂無法轉場最後自殺的人。

The person who couldn’t get any treatment and, worried that he’d infect his wife and child, wrote a will donating his body to medical research in the hope that it might somehow spare others from suffering. Leaving the keys to their apartment and his phone, he set out to walk back to his old hometown but died on the way.

那個無處收治怕感染老婆孩子,寫下遺書想將自己的遺體用於科學研究,願天下人不再受病痛折磨,而後留下鑰匙和手機離家出走,最後死在回老家途中的人。

The fellow who wrote the words ‘I donate my corpse to the state, but where’s my wife?’ [For the story behind this line, see Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary 方方,《武漢日記》, here]

那個寫下「死後遺體捐給國家。我老婆呢?」的人。

The person who, because the city was on lockdown and driving was prohibited, carried his mother on his back for three hours in search of somewhere that would accept her for treatment.

那個因為封城禁車只好背著媽媽四處問診,一路走了三個小時的人。

The person who left their newly born baby at a hospital with a note: ‘I’ve spent everything I have in giving birth, now I’m destitute’.

那個把剛出生的孩子托付給醫院,寫下「生孩子已花光僅有的積蓄,走投無路流落至此」的人。

The person who crawled down ten floors from their apartment just so they could buy some meat.

那個為了出門買肉,從10樓爬下來的人。

The child who covered their dead grandfather’s body with a quilt and waited with him for five days and nights.

那個守著爺爺的屍體過了5天,並給爺爺蓋上被子的孩子。

The person who, after recovering from a severe bout of the illness, discovered that their whole family was dead and hung themselves from the rafters.

那個重症被治癒後回家發現家人都去世了,在樓頂上吊自殺了。

The sixty-year old who was in sole charge of taking care of a whole police station with over sixty people in it. Her duties included buying all the food, making all of their meals, washing all the dishes and keeping the kitchen clean. Utterly exhausted she finally collapsed in a corridor crying.

那個60多歲獨自一人承擔派出所60多個警察的採購、洗菜、做菜、洗碗、打掃廚房,最後累到在走廊里哭的人。

The person whose hair turned grey after they had been wandering the streets of Wuhan for over twenty days unable to get any help.

那個在武漢街頭流浪了20多天,頭髮白了一半的人。

The child who, in despair, took the medicine their mother had been prescribed for psychotic episodes because they couldn’t afford to buy a phone to take online school classes.

那個沒錢買手機上網課,而將媽媽治療精神疾病的藥物一把吞下的人。

That twenty-five year-old journalist who quit their job with China Central Television and went to Wuhan at the most dangerous time to report independently on the situation. When those people were at his hotel door and about to detain him he recited the lines [from Liang Qichao]: ‘If our youth are strong, the nation will be strong; if are youth are enfeebled, our nation will be weak’. [This is a reference to the journalist Li Zehua 李澤華. See The Heart of The One Grows Ever More Arrogant and Proud, China Heritage, 10 March 2020]

那個25歲從央視辭職,在最危險的時候去武漢直播,對著門外將要把他帶走的人,背誦少年強則國強,少年弱則國弱的人。

The person who shouted out from their apartment that ‘It’s all a sham!’ when a party-state leader was on an official inspection tour of a residential area in Wuhan.  [This is a reference to Vice-premier Sun Chunlan’s ‘inspection tour’ of Wuhan on 5 March 2020. For a video of the incident, see here]

那個在領導檢查時,在樓上大喊「都是假的」的人。

The person who, having recovered the bodies of three children killed when the Xinjia Hotel [in Quanzhou, Fujian province, which was being used for sequestered people affected by the coronavirus] collapsed, broke down sobbing uncontrollably. [For details, see here]

那個從坍塌的泉州酒店救出三個孩子屍體後大哭的人。

The writer who produced sixty daily diary entries despite having her WeChat accounts repeatedly censored and being vilified relentlessly by thuggish characters. [A reference to Fang Fang]

那個寫下60篇封城日記,被封號數次,被群氓圍毆謾罵的人。

That seven or eight year-old child who lined up with all the adults to collect the ashes of their dead parents.

那個只有七八歲懵懂跟隨大人隊伍里為父母領取骨灰的人。

The person who rang a government official to warn at length and in detail of the dangers of a new virus and the need for people to be protected and provided enough food to eat who eventually just gave up with a sigh.

那個苦口婆心有理有據給政府公務人員打電話說病毒要防、人也要吃飯,最後輕輕嘆了口氣的人。

That respected doctor who was repeatedly criticised by their hospital for wearing a face mask but ended up being infected and dying from the virus.

那個深受病人愛戴,因戴口罩而被醫院訓斥,後感染病毒死去的人。

The person who said: ‘If I’d known things would end up like this, I would have ignored all of their criticisms and had the courage to spread the word everywhere’. [This is a reference to Dr Ai Fen 艾芬, director of the emergency department of Central Hospital of Wuhan, the first medical professional to disclose details of the dangerous new virus.]

那個說出「早知道有今天,我管他批評不批評,老子到處說」的人。

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‘The days pass in heartbreak’, in the hand of Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫