Reclaiming Grief: On ‘Counter-Commemorations’

Geremie Barmé, renowned China scholar and editor of China Heritage:

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 . . .

Here’s how it begins:

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。

And so on. If this isn’t a litany, I don’t know what is.


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