Wuhan, Fighting for Life
By Adham Sayed  ·  2021-09-28  ·   Source: NO.39 SEPTEMBER 30, 2021
Adham Sayed tests for COVID-19 in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, in May 2020 (COURTESY PHOTO)

On the evening of May 20, 2020, I went down into my residential compound to get the COVID-19 testing authorities had decided to roll out for all residents of Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province.

One of the medical workers conducting the tests asked me, "Where are you from?" I replied, "Lebanon." She said she didn't know the Chinese Government was also examining and taking care of foreigners. I interrupted her by saying, "Yes, and it's for free, too."

After this experience in Wuhan, I have become much more understanding of why a Chinese student in Lebanon once told me, "China is, for us Chinese, like our mother."

Foreigners in Wuhan can only compare their experiences to the tenderness of a mother who does not distinguish between her children. We did not feel discriminated against for a single moment; on the contrary, we received special attention. Throughout this fight, we had all become children of China. When we needed help, the country provided us with safety, knowledge, and all else that was required. And when she needed us to step up, we proudly stood by her side.

During our lockdown from January 23 to April 8, 2020, I posted several videos entitled From the Streets of Wuhan which featured the city's completely empty streets and crossroads. I was trying to convey to those outside of China the truth about what was really going on in Wuhan in the face of misleading rumors and fake news spreading like wildfire.

I used to say, this is a city of resistance and the people's confining themselves to their homes is part of their role in this battle.

"This is not a city of ghosts," I told one foreign media outlet. A ghost city is a city that succumbs to death. As for Wuhan, this city was fighting for life.

After the lockdown was lifted, I ventured out into the same streets. Life was beginning to return to normal, and I started posting videos entitled Life After COVID-19. I was trying to show life in a city that had been able to gain control over the virus. In other words, I was trying to plant the seeds of hope. Hope that our everyday lives can indeed be recovered.

Soon the empty streets once again started swarming with life...

A group of women dance as the sun sets behind the lake. Girls pose in their graduation gowns, as if to shout out to the world, "Life does go on!"

Two elderly people lean on each other's shoulders on the Wuhan subway. Children run around a small pond in front of the university library under the watchful eye of their grandparents.

A lover steals a kiss from his girlfriend, taking advantage of her preoccupation with taking pictures of the clouds.

A girl was born in the first week of quarantine, and she is now 1 and 4 months; I don't know her name, but I will call her "Hope." This girl is growing up today safely swathed in the arms of her 70-year-old grandfather.

I told my father during the early days of the city's lockdown, "Thanks to the efforts provided, soon Wuhan will be the safest place in the world."

Since March 2020, we have been living in the security and stability that we wish for all people worldwide to enjoy. 

The author is a Lebanese researcher with the China-Arab BRI Research Center at Zhejiang Gongshang University. He is the author of the book This Is How It Was in Wuhan: Diaries of Quarantine Days

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

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