Hiding

Shanghai Lockdown, Day 20:

I rush to crouch down between edge of the track path and the row of hedges. A government official or community volunteer—pretty much synonymous—approaches, bullhorn blaring that blasted announcement telling us to not go outside.

A young boy of around 9 rushes over next to me, lowering his head. He is well trained. His grandma follows suit. She is a master coach. The official on electric scooter draws close. He stops his vehicle just on the other side of the vegetation, not more than 20 feet away. The three of us draw in closer.

We’re in the thin strip of mud, practically in the bushes as the scooter stays put. The official’s talking to someone on the phone. The grandma tells her grandson several times, “还没走,”—hai mei zou—he hasn’t left/gone yet.

In the bushes, heads down, we wait. Anxiety builds. Hope hangs high.

4-5 minutes pass, I reckon. An automated voice: “开机”—kai ji. The scooter’s moving again!

Grandma calls the all clear for us. We stand.

The boy returns to hitting some kind of ball with a bat. Grandma sits on the bench canalside.

We live to see another day in the (kind of) outside world.

Shanghai Lockdown ‘22

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