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Tianjin Epidemic 1940
- The Story Told by A Chinese Doctor (6)

28 April 2009
 

1) Greeting at Ghost Gate
2) Pulse Reading
3) Doctor and Fate
4) Cosmic Rays
5) Cosmic Rays & Epidemics

6) Tianjin Epidemic 1940

In the summer of 1939 during the Japanese occupation of the city, Tianjin suffered from terrible flood, and the whole city was completely submerged under the deluge. Countless people perished in the disaster and dead bodies lying everywhere unburied for an extended period. The air was thick with a rotten smell.

Traditional Chinese Medicine long concluded from observation that there will be outburst of epidemics following a natural disaster (大灾之后,必有大疫). At the time my grandma's family were living in Tianjin and my grandfather repeatedly sent letters urging his in-laws to leave the town for Shandong to stay with them for a while. An old brother of my grandma was a surgeon trained in Europe and had a strong faith in Modern Western Medicine, believing that as long as proper sanitation measures were taken, the epidemic could be avoided. He resolved to remain in Tianjin to serve those who needed him most.

In the early summer of 1940, my grandfather accompanied my grandma to visit her parents and brother in Tianjin. One day on their way home from a theatre, they heard people talking about a strange old woman with a filthy look and foul smell frequently staggering along in the late night streets. She was said to be fully covered from head to toe in a black cloak so no one could see her face; her voice was piecing and rasping and everyone nearby could hear her incomprehensible murmuring. Nobody knew where she came from, and nobody ever saw her during the day.

Next morning, my grandfather told my grandma that they must leave Tianjin immediately. "What's the hurry?" My grandma responded. "We've just arrived here." My grandfather said: "Remember the old woman they talked about last night? I'm afraid she may not be a human, but a spirit coming here to spread contagious disease." My grandma did not really believe my grandfather words, but seeing he was so anxious, she agreed his proposal. When she went to say goodbye to her family and conveyed the message of my grandfather, her brother sneered. "How could you believe a tale about a spirit?" he censured.

My grandfather realised he could not persuade his in-law's family to go with him, so he went to see a friend, also a TCM doctor, and asked him to prepare for the coming disaster and look after his in-law's family.

A month later, in July 1940, cholera disease broke out in Tianjin. The Japanese occupation army sealed off the entire city, forbidding the locals to enter or leave the town; whenever they discovered a cholera patient, they would burn down the house along with the patient and his family inside. All of a sudden, a bustling metropolitan descended into a living hell, with a huge death toll recorded. A servant of my grandma's family was also infected with the disease when she went out to do some shopping and passed it on to my grandma's sister-in-law and her baby. Fortunately, they were eventually saved under the joint effort of both Western trained and TCM doctors.

Excerpt of original Chinese text by 池草
(tianya.cn/techforum/content/16/624158.shtml):

民国二十八年夏,天津水灾,大水能够淹没三层的楼房,整个城市变成一片汪洋,城中很多房屋坍塌,死人无数,比比皆是,有些尸体根本没有人埋葬,任其腐烂发臭,情况惨不忍睹。

大灾之后,必有大疫。当时我祖母的父母和兄嫂都居住在天津市,祖父多次去信请他们离开天津到山东来居住,以免被瘟疫感染。祖母的哥哥当时是欧洲留学回来的外科医生,对现代医学充满自信,自认为卫生和防疫工作能够搞好的话,决不至于感染疾病。要坚持留在天津市为医院和市民服务。

二十九年夏初,祖母归省探望父母兄弟,祖父陪同。有一天,他们看戏归来,在路上听见有人议论:最近,住在附近晚归的人,经常有人看到一个肮脏恶臭的老妇在周边行走,嘴里咕咕囔囔,自言自语不知道在讲些什么,声音尖细古怪,似哭似笑,又像是唱歌又像是呻吟,披一件灰黑色的斗篷,遮盖着头部,也看不清五官,身上有剧烈的潮湿和恶臭的味道,比臭水沟里味道还要难闻,距离好远就能闻得到,遇见的人迎面走过都要捏着鼻子躲的远远的。奇怪的是她只有晚上才出来,不知道白天在哪里,附近也没有认识她的人。祖父听说之后,暗暗把这件事情记在心里。

第二天清早,他对祖母说,我们必须离开天津回山东了。祖母说,才来住了几天而已,你那么着急回去做什么。祖父说,昨天我们听说的那个诡异的老太婆,恐怕不是人,而是散播瘟疫的鬼怪啊,恐怕用不了多久,这里就要有大规模的瘟疫发生了,不如现在早些回山东避难啊。祖母虽然未必全信,看到祖父忧虑的样子,也只好同意了。早晨祖母拜见了父母兄长,把祖父的话对她的家人说,她哥哥对这些话很不以为然。认为这种凭空而造的鬼神谣言,怎么可以相信。

祖父无奈,自知不能劝说祖母的家人相信,只能带祖母先回山东。暗地地把这个情况与在天津相识的同行说,让他们做好疾病的防范,并且把祖母的家人托付给这个医生。如果瘟疫真的来临希望这位医生能够及时的帮助救护。

民国二十九年七月,天津霍乱盛行。日寇封锁城市,禁止民众出入,凡是发现病患,就连同住宅一起焚烧消灭。繁盛津门顿时成为人间地狱,虽然经过中西医生全力救治,无奈统治者昏庸,致使医药匮乏,防治信息闭塞,死者甚众。祖母娘家有一女佣外出采买被感染得病,后致使小公子和祖母的嫂子也被感染,幸而发现及时,又有中西医生配合治疗,才不至于死。

7) Cosmic Rays & Fengshui

Prev: Cosmic Rays & Epidemics - A Doctor's Story (5)
Next: Cosmic Rays & Fengshui - A Doctor's Story (7)

 
 
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A Vegetarian Doll

This is not a peculiarly-designed and poorly crafted doll but the fleece-flower root (heshouwu 何首乌), dug out by a Chinese villager in Top High County (上高县蒙山乡陂下村), Jiangxi Province (江西省) on 25 March 2009.

Grown in most parts of China along the mountain streams and in valleys with thick shrubs, Fleece-flower roots are considered in Traditional Chinese Medicine as wonder plants that can bring positive effects to liver and kidney.

According to the classic Chinese medicine work Kaibao Herbal Medicine (《开宝本草》), compiled during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), regular intake of fleece-flower root can help strengthen bones, develop nerve cells, lower blood sugar, replenish liver function, enhance cholesterol metabolism, clear away toxins and restore the vitality, which are all essential for keeping a youthful figure and prolonging life.

(Source of info/photos: 中评社)


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