by Xie Hong
COVID-19 tales from Shenzhen, China
As a writer who works from home, my life has not changed very much because of the COVID-19 outbreak. When I first got the news about COVID-19, I didn’t pay much attention. I didn’t even get any face masks for myself. My niece brought me a pack of twenty when she heard I didn’t have any. The biggest change in my life was that I started to cook for myself when the Chinese Spring Festival began. My mom usually cooked for my niece and I on weekdays, but she had traveled overseas with my younger siblings. Since she left, I’ve been cooking for myself.
When the epidemic became serious, I didn’t go out shopping, but used the Meituan express app to buy food. After I paid online, the courier would deliver what I had bought within an hour. Once my order was placed on the shelves at the community entrance near the body temperature checkpoint, I’d get a call to come get it. I cook different meals each day and enjoy it quite a bit, sharing pictures of my dishes with friends and fans on WeChat and Weibo. I’ve gotten a little fat, which has made me worry about my health.
For the first month of lockdown, I stayed at home most of the time. I stayed active by riding my exercise bike or lifting my dumbbells. Sometimes I took the chance to walk outside and get a few minutes of fresh air and sunshine. If you wanted to take a walk outside the community, you could, but I stayed home for the sake of safety.
Since COVID-19 finally seems to be under control, people relaxed a little bit. I still cook for myself every day, even though my mom is back from overseas. Now she cooks for herself and my niece at her house, and I cook for myself at mine. At the Qingming Festival, my mom invited me to dinner with my sister and my younger brother’s family at her house. We used to have a family dinner once a week, but I persuaded her to give it up for now. I haven’t seen my relatives for three months. Thanks God we can reach out via WeChat.
Now I stay at home most of the time, cooking, reading, writing, watching, and going out for a walk once or twice a day. I am happy to see things getting better. People are appearing in the streets, shopping malls are reopening, and schools open next week. You can take your mask off outside, but most people keep theirs on and keep social distance.
I’ve worked at home since I resigned from a bank job sixteen years ago. I haven’t only been suffering but luckily have accomplished some things. I’ve signed six ebooks and have a couple of anthologies to publish soon. In the meantime, I’m happy that my cooking skills have grown. I praise myself for that, but lots of my friends praise the pictures I post.
Bilingual writer Xie Hong was born in Guangdong, China. He emigrated to New Zealand in 2005. He is currently based in Shenzhen, mainland China.
He has published ten books in Chinese as well as a English novel MAO’S TOWN.