I came back to Wuhan on January 10th and within these two months a lot of things happened and now I could finally sit down and talk about it.
I watched my Dad close the door. It was a really cold night in dead silence and I was all alone at home. My parents left because they had been running fever for several days and they were showing other symptoms of COVID-19. It was January 31st, the 7th day of Wuhan lockdown.
I was born and bred in Wuhan for 18 years before I moved to Beijing two years ago to study at Tsinghua University. Wuhan is a lovely city where people lead a vibrant life. In Beijing, I would always crave for the Hot Dry Noodles back home, Re Gan Mian and really loud conversations in Wuhan dialect popping up on the street.
But when I stood at home on the 31st of January, all that was gone. Before I arrived home for the Spring Festival, my parents and I had talked about making sure that we took a really good family photo during the Spring Festival holiday.
The virus we now know as COVID-19 is somehow fearsome partly because it does not discriminate in choosing who it infects. But that is only partly true. All the evidence suggest that it can be merciless to older people, so I was wondering whether my parents would make it and whether we would ever take photos.
When they left home I cried the whole night and I hardly got any sleep before I knew that they had settled down in the hospital. This was the first time in my life that I was all alone.
But don't get me wrong: I can be really independent. I can cook, I can do the laundry, and of course like any young Chinese people, I can buy things online. But I had no idea how to live without my caring parents.
On their second day away my parents called and asked me how I was. We talked using FaceTime, and the moment I saw mom lying there with an oxygen mask and my dad could not talk without breathing heavily, I realized that I had to live on my own.
The responsibility for our family that lain on my parents' shoulders for years had now passed onto mine. The only thing I could do is to take care of myself and make sure they wouldn't worry about me when they were having treatment. And this is also the first time that I realized how much I love them. Over days and weeks I discovered there are many others who had experiences similar to mine.
About two weeks after my parents went into hospital, I came across a fever and I had to go into quarantine and be put under medical observations for 14 days. Fortunately, my illness turned out to be due to a bacterial infections but not COVID-19.
Not surprisingly, those under quarantine were extremely anxious. On the day I and some other patients arrived, some of us felt extremely uneasy about being totally isolated and began to wonder whether this was where we would die.
Everything was hectic, there seemed to be a shortage of medical staff and materials were in short supply. Even though the doctors and nurses were covered from head to toe, I could see how tired they were when I looked into their bloodshot eyes.
They would work a whole day preparing for new patients and seemed incredibly apologetic for not having everything that was needed. Most of the patients were really understanding, but of course there were those who were not, and complained loudly, but all the doctors and nurses tried their best to deal with it in a calming way.
And they are all from other cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, and some of them are just three or four years older than me.
One thing I would not forget is that one day apart from our lunch set, we had Hot Dry Noodles. I was extremely happy when I saw the Hot Dry Noodles. Because for Wuhan people, Hot Dry Noodles was an indispensable part of our daily life. But after the lockdown, we were not able to buy any and we missed it so much.
Then I knew that it was a volunteer from Shenzhen who happened to know that we all loved Hot Dry Noodles and prepared that for us. He hoped that this would make us feel at home. I'm sure that all these medical workers were exhausted, and I'm sure they must have been afraid of being infected, but they did not show it.
When the quarantine was over, every patient effusively thanked the workers for what they had done, but the answer they received was exactly the same: "That's what we're here for."
Chinese have always demonstrated a strong sense of unity in the face of challenges. I'm a real Generation Z girl who was born in 2000. At the age of three, I could sing the national anthem and first encountered the word Wan Zhong Yi Xin, which in at least one translation is rendered as "millions of hearts with one mind".
At the age of 8 I first learned the meaning of "Yi Fang You Nan, Ba Fang ZhiYuan", referring to helps from all directions, when I saw people tried their best to save others' lives in Wenchuan earthquake.
It's only now, at the age of 20, that I fully appreciate what those words mean. Chinese people have all stood up as one to fight COVID-19. Medical workers from all over the country descended on Wuhan to save others' lives. Resources including food are sent to the city from all over China. And, most importantly, hundreds of millions of people stayed at home to prevent the virus from spreading.
I am so proud that people in my country have all joined in this collective effort. It's natural to fear illness, death, and uncertainty, and it's also natural to feel compassion when we see others suffering.
It is the love towards the others that turns the most timid of souls into strongest warriors, ready to bear the toughest responsibilities and even at risk to their lives to save others. In this fight against COVID-19, I saw this love shining in medical people, volunteers, restaurant owners, bus drivers, and countless others.
What we are living through now is undoubtedly horrible, with a pandemic the likes of which hasn't been seen in more than 100 years. But I still choose to be optimistic. Because I see Wan Zhong Yi Xin around the world that people are working together to try to help others and with them I think we can look forward to the day that COVID-19 is finally defeated.
Now I have begun to enjoy sitting in front of my desk, taking courses online with my dearest friends and teachers and I'm overjoyed to see the number of infected people finally fall.
Spring is here. Mom and dad are finally home and are fully recovered. The home of ours is a lot warmer now. And we still have a family photo that we have to take.