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China in the Age of SARS



In 2002 the author, Mark Bond, took his family deep into central China after taking a position at a Chinese university teaching business English and literature. Leaving everything in Salt Lake City, Utah and arriving in Henan, China with only their bags, the family of five discovered both nuance and simplicity within China. With remnants of Maoist China still found among the peasants in the countryside and extreme wealth and industry being created in the major metropolises of the country, China proved to be a life-altering experience. The family also had to confront an insidious disease that would become a worldwide epidemic: SARS. This is the story of China in the age of SARS. This all culminated with them having to escape the college campus in dead of night in order to get themselves out of the Province. The next morning, the rest of the foreign teachers were quickly put on lock down and the university surrounded by the PSB for six weeks with no entry or exit permitted…

The End

           “Zou, Zou, Zou” (go, go, go), we yelled at the cab driver. He didn’t want to leave because the guards at the gate came over telling him not to go! “Mark, you guys had better take off, they’ve called the Dean!” “I know, I know, we’ve told him to leave but he’s afraid of the guards!” The driver was arguing with Mengchuan, my wife, and she was telling him it didn’t matter—to just take off. We finally got all the doors slammed shut on the little “mien bau he” (bread box van). I was sitting on top of 3 suitcases and Tasha’s guitar. Tasha was scared and saying, “Dad, let’s go!” I told her “We’re trying, we’re trying.” I saw a hand come in the window: it was Lane’s—I shook it and gave him a salute. I stuck my hand out the other side and shook Craig and Tim’s hand. The driver finally agreed to go! “You guys be safe—send us an email when you get out of China!” They all said. The bread box van, so termed because it was no bigger than a bread box and square, took off down the street in front of Shengda College. 

I was bent over with the back of my head on the ceiling of the van just behind the driver. Mengchuan was sitting in the front passenger seat with the two babies who were wondering what the hell was going on. Tasha was sitting next to me looking behind us to see if anyone was following. We were all prepared to be stopped. Mengchuan and the driver were warbling in Mandarin—I could follow most of it—the Henan dialect the driver spoke was heavily accented: “Did your wife work today?” Mengchuan asked the driver because his wife worked at the college. She was afraid the driver’s wife would tell them where he took us. “No, no, she was off today (meiyo shangban),” he said. My wife asked, “Did you tell her you were picking us up tonight?” “Of course! (dang ran, ah).”  We took the turn towards the airport which was 25.7 kilometers away—I knew because Lane and I had ridden it often during the past year on our bikes. The airport sits in an isolated section of Henan Province 45 kilometers from the Capital City, Zhengzhou. The road there was a mélange of paved, partially paved, damaged and heavily damaged streets winding through communist era villages and towns that changed only by virtue of the things falling off the trucks passing through. We escaped as we arrived—in the darkness with the halo of the headlights offering just enough knowledge of the passage to determine we were somehow on the face of the moon. We could not determine by the illumination of the jittery headlamps, then or now, what year it was and it certainly could have been 1952…

About the author

Mark A. F. Bond grew up on the forefront of America's geopolitical boundaries. He spent 4 years living in Germany as a military brat and graduated from high school in Korea in the mid-1980s. In 1998 Mark traveled to Taiwan to teach English and the rest, as they say, is history... view profile

Published on September 12, 2019

Published by

30000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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