Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Three Hundred Thirty Seven

From the beginning, the Lost Quarter has been host to many who are just passing through. Those Who Went Away, before their bitter and final banishment, travelled through these parts often. Remnants of their passing can be found everywhere. Arrowheads, knives and other tools. Tipi rings and other detritus of a camp site. Their territories stretched far beyond the borders of the Quarter and they knew the ways in and out and its various peculiarities as well as anyone ever has.

Many of Those Who Came after the exile of Those Who Went Away were just passing through as well, trying their hand at settling the land before moving on to other places. They left little that can be seen now. A few homes and farmyards that others have since occupied. The ruins of a foundation where someone once had a home. But for the most part all traces of their being here have vanished, and will be totally gone once those who can still remember them are gone as well. Even now people come and go, though fewer and fewer, as the ways into the Quarter are lost. I am one of them.

During the second of the great wars that consumed the first half of the last century a new group of Those Who Came arrived in the Quarter. They did not come willingly, arriving from other parts of the Greater Dominions, mostly the western shores, having originally come to the Dominions from Japan. The Dominions were at war with Imperial Japan and they viewed these newcomers with suspicion, though some had been there for generations. As a result they were interned in camps and made to dig coal for the war effort. After the war the camps were disbanded, the people free to go where they wished, and none chose to remain in the Quarter.

There are records of the camps, but little else. They were a ghostly presence even when they were in existence, near the communities but not a part of them. Those who lived there would see the interned in town on occasion, the authorities knowing there was no chance of them being able to flee the Quarter, but no words were exchanged. No acknowledgement given of what was occurring.

It was an age of internment, of prison camps and gulags and worse. Every nation engaged in the war, on whatever side, seemed to have some version of them in existence. They were seen as necessary, though now we see them as abominations. We say we do anyway. Right now in China there are camps – re-education if one is to use the government’s nomenclature – that rank among the worst of those terrible places ever constructed, as the stories of those who have escaped make amply clear. They have one purpose, the elimination of a people, the Uighurs, and the methods they use are barbaric. Forced work, rape and torture, sterilization and indoctrination, the erasure of a culture and a language.

It seems clear what is being done and yet people and governments across the world refuse to name it. Genocide. They find ways and reasons to look away, to not see what is there. For if they did so, then they would be obligated to do something about it. Just as those who lived in the Quarter in those dark years found reasons not to see the internment camps for what they were. Now is the time to speak, for later our words will be empty, all that will be left are apologies that can never undo what has been done.

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