We prepared for Spring Festival as the news arrived from Guanxi of many tens of thousands dead. Still there is no list of the dead from Hunan or Anhui. There is a public expressing of shock and grief, but also strange, unspoken feelings. Those without family support each other, and Beijing people support us, but this becomes more difficult. Before, we can reassure each other, say to hope for the best, stay strong. Now we know that many are dead, that the disease is worse than anybody thinks, like a plague from the old times, and there is nothing the doctors can do. There is more fear now, and with fear there is less trust. People want to shut up their house and stay alone with their family, but they have a grieving stranger in their home. There is sympathy for people from the silent provinces, but also there is some resentment. I live on the campus where we are from all over China, and all over the world, so I am protected a little, but I can feel it when I go outside of the gate. People turn away from students and migrant workers, pull their masks higher on their faces, like our sadness and anger is also an infection that we bring from the silent zones.
On New Year, and we celebrate as much as we can with so much fear, and restrictions on food. Normally we would have chicken, but there are no chickens to buy. Li and I cleaned out our room, and ate fish and bean curd and rice cakes with a couple from Hunan who have no contact from their parents and small son since three weeks. There are no parades – it is a public health risk, and firecrackers also are banned, but I cook dumplings and we play fire cracker sounds, and hope the year of the horse carries us safely back to our families. We also think what we will do next, but I cannot say more on this now.