It’s been 10 years. I haven’t forgotten.

Today is November 15, 2020, exactly 10 years since the 2010 fire at 1115 Teacher’s Apartment on Jiaozhou Road, Shanghai.

I’ve been hanging out on Jiaozhou Road since 2008 until 2018, which is also 10 years and a quarter of my life.

After living on Jiaozhou Road for five or six years, I didn’t know how much longer I would stay on this road, and I thought of writing a book, called “Jiaozhou Road”, to record the stories and changes in the ten years I have lived on this road, and to record some of them every year; I didn’t hesitate to choose the fire on Jiaozhou Road as my starting point.

However, an American named Shi Wise wrote a book called Changle Road before I did, so I was so angry that I deleted the first draft.

Jiaozhou Road has changed quite a bit in the last ten years; to be precise, it’s south of Kangding Road, where there are more bars and small shops; north of Kangding Road to the teachers’ apartment, however, nothing has changed.

Before the fire, the residents of Jiaozhou Road like to tell you about the explosion at the intersection of Yuyuan in 1999; like to tell ghost stories about the artificial limb factory, next to the upscale hotel used to be a funeral parlor to scare outsiders; after the fire, Jiaozhou Road, a south and a north have had major accidents, but also implement the rumors of the bad feng shui of Jiaozhou Road; you see the prices and rents is cheaper than the next few roads some, which on the contrary, so that many small shops have room to survive; just Jiaozhou Road residents, most of them do not want to talk about the fire, the painful memory is too close to their own.

I don’t want to describe the tragedy of the fire scene, but when I think back, I still can’t help but tremble; a fire changed not only many families, but also many people and things in the neighborhood, and all the lives lost in the fire vanished into thin air.

There was a Taiwanese bakery underneath the building, beautifully decorated and opened just two months ago, and next to it was the mediation studio of my maternal uncle, Auntie Pao Wanqing.

She said she cried miserably that day, frantically calling old customers who lived across the street and no one answered, crying while sending water to the firemen; on the seventh day of the first month, she and her sisters also lined up in the crowd to lay flowers, crying even harder, she cried herself just opened a shop not long ago, the next inevitable row of shops can not be opened; for this reason, she left Shanghai for many years before she recovered.

The year 2010 was the final high point of the traditional print media, and the optimistic era of Weibo’s “Spectatorship is Changing China”; the print media continued to investigate the causes of the accident, and were still able to hold themselves accountable; the Weibo community was outraged, and the more profound factor was that everyone was at risk.

It was at this memorial event that I first realized the cleverness of Shanghai’s governance: it doesn’t support you, and it doesn’t stop you from organizing it; overnight, that intersection became the most crowded place in Shanghai with surveillance cameras.

On the eve of the first seventh, the spontaneous banners and bouquets were taken away from the site and replaced with official banners and garlands; the next morning Mr. Yu and Mr. Han, the governors of the districts, were the first to be present to mourn, and they harvested the spontaneous activity directly.

But that afternoon, I saw hundreds of thousands of people pouring into the memorial site, in waves, in an orderly and solemn manner; a nearby florist came to distribute free white chrysanthemum flowers; someone distributed free bottled water; an orchestra played mourning music (later persuaded by the police to leave); and the masses walked slowly, step by step, to the blackened and dilapidated building to offer a flower.

It was the first time that I felt a sense of identity with Shanghai, a sense of shared destiny; the warmth of a huge city; moderate tolerance from the government and enough self-restraint from the people; everyone willing to stand up for their dead neighbors, without slogans, without anger, but knowing everything.

When I think of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, I can always be accompanied by the memory of the fire that followed; it took many years for that intersection to gradually regain its popularity, but some things can no longer be erased; many people will avoid walking here, not to feel terrible; but to feel the heart; until now, every time I pass by, looking up at the high pillars that have been plastered with concrete, will still produce the illusion of smoke and flying debris; at night, the intersection is always depressingly quiet, some people say it is like a sarcophagus soaring into the sky, I prefer to think of it as a silent monument.

There are all sorts of supernatural phenomena and urban legends, and all sorts of short-form video marketing numbers always make an issue out of it; but if you had been at the scene of the accident that day, looking at the black smoke shrouding the building, you would have experienced the pain of terror and helplessness.

Ten years on, Jing’an District has become the old Jing’an, China’s speed has been upgraded from the Harmony to the Renaissance, people’s living standards have become richer, and social networks have become more and more developed; while the media’s response to major incidents has degenerated from in-depth reporting to the publication of press releases; there are still one or two man-made disasters that shock the nation every year, and even the number of randomly lit candles on the Internet is decreasing.

Sometimes I can’t help but think “China is a very safe country”. What does “safe” really mean? Surely it’s safe to jerk off late at night; surely random mowing down of people is an unpredictable event, and all in all, public safety is pretty good? But what about traffic safety? Environmentally safe? Food safety? Building quality and safety? Safe for children and women? China is a developing country, and billions of Chinese are working hard for a better tomorrow; but every year, some people die for no apparent reason.

I prefer to believe that the death of these people is the progress of social security; perhaps each of us is a potential victim, but some people help you to bear the sacrifice, modernization is built up by countless blood and tears; when enjoying the fruits of Chinese society’s better progress, do not forget the contributions of many people; if you are not brave enough, then also shut up and do not ridicule those who dare to pay; they are all bodhisattvas.

There are always people who say that the fire at the end of The Hours is an allusion to the Jiaozhou Road fire, and if this is true, then the only person who put this fire in his book is Guo Jingming.