A Personal Reflection of the Pandemic — From a Wuhan Girl
a short story by Ella Yu
In my recent years I have been living a bilingual life, more specifically, a bisected one. I love the city I was born in with all my heart, indeed, as it is one of the most beautiful places I know. Whenever a bowl of hot dry noodles with the aroma of green onions is served in front of me, I fall for the life-long taste of childhood; along with a sip of traditional soy milk, memories and tranquility soon fill up my mind. My perception of my hometown is composed of precious moments like eating a bowl of noodles, laughing with my long lost friends, and walking in the ocean of cherry blossoms showcased in Wuhan University… when I read the threads of ridiculous comments on this absolutely stunning city in English, the words seemed outrageously unfamiliar and stupid. Undoubtedly, they are spoken by foreigners that have no idea about a single truth of Wuhan. What in the world can one possibly anticipate that this city would become so “infamous” overnight, and its fame continued to grow exponentially in 2020.
Now, let me tell you the truth, the Huanan seafood market can now be eliminated when considering the possible sources of the coronavirus; the Chinese government most likely used the market as a cover of the truth. Without knowing the truths, people started guessing, bursting out hate and misconceptions. They are blinded by their bluntness, while neglecting the brutally realistic issues that are gradually appearing on the surface of society.
Despite the numerous incidents that happened as a result of xenophobia and racism of Asian Americans in America, it is no different in China. What do I mean by this? Chinese social media and other real life evidence have created an imagery of discrimination against Wuhan citizens. We see numerous examples of Wuhan workers unable to check into a hotel in another province or even find a job somewhere else due to the bias, and yet there is little change that could be made. The whole world has turned its back on the innocent inhabitants of this city, without rationality nor justice. We see this fear out of selfishness from people of both races, regardless of considering the efforts that have been put in by this unbelievably brave population, as they were the first to encounter the pain. Please keep in mind, with the months of lockdown, countless people in Wuhan have lost their lives, and they would have escaped to other rescue centers all over the nation and survived. The lockdown brutally turned the circumstance into a massacre of Wuhan citizens by simply blocking the outside world. It is safe to say that without their enormous sacrifice and the deadly confrontation, the virus would have spread even faster. Now, this isn’t to create sympathy to any degree--in fact, this is a reminder that we humans are flawed. Take a second and reflect, our inability of having an objective mindset and the basic emotional connection of the victims during this pandemic broke up almost all of our previous bonds between the cities, used up the relationships there are left between races and eventually, led to the deterioration of the feud between the countries. We, the educated ones, can do better.
Things that deserve more of our attention and energy other than pointless complaints are the effects of coronavirus on the minorities and our overall lack of ability to confront this pandemic. Whether it be the disproportionate numbers of deaths of coronavirus in the US or the unavailability of living space for homeless workers in China, issues like these reflect some serious problems present in our society and draw surprising similarities between countries. Similar to other wars in history, minorities, again, are suffering. Videos document a mass number of homeless workers sleeping by Wuhan underground subways, who failed to catch the train back home before the lockdown. The volunteers helping around the city became their only source to get food and aid. When asked about their family, one old man started telling his heartbreaking story. The conversation soon shifted to an even more compelling revelation. The man is a stage three cancer patient, who refuses to go back home as he might infect his grandchild, and insists on living without medication as his illness has already cost a huge amount of money. We will never know what each one of them has experienced in life, and thus the coronavirus became a sword that forced them to walk in darkness and valleys of life. “We usually go out and help with the construction of the new hospitals… and we get about a hundred yuan a day,” another man says. “... How? I thought it was at least 500 yuan a day…” one volunteer mumbled. The coronavirus simply threw so many underprivileged people’s lives in jeopardy, in both China and the US, and countries around the world. Through these problems, we then see the tyranny and negligence of the Chinese government. Although some issues here are not as severe, American government’s weak spots started making their appearance as well. The fact that we were not fully equipped and prepared enough prior to the disease led to the much higher death toll than expected. Whether it be the president’s carelessness or the slow response of the general public, insecurities regarding our personal health and future are gradually coming to light. And at the end, hate and blame do not make any change. It is time for us to unite. So many issues are not mutually exclusive and appear in countries simultaneously. Finally, the chance for us to fight for the common goal is here--let’s catch it. Peace, justice and unity will be the greatest lesson that coronavirus can ever teach us, we can only step forward as a whole.
The fact that so many people are blunt and insensitive about their language and actions, show how much we are disassociated with each other on this planet, and cultures severely disconnected. As a global citizen, who yearns for peace and cooperation, I truly think that if we start to stretch our arms farther, ponder at a larger scale, we can patch the gaps of disparities and truly fight the war TOGETHER.
As a Wuhan girl that currently lives in the US, like other Asian girls, Ella is obsessed with bubble tea and absolutely love Chinese cuisine. On a regular basis, she enjoys playing piano and tennis, as well as calligraphy.