Hard Fate

Story by Simon Nguyen
Author's Note: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Zhang had confined herself in her room for almost three days. Despite numerous pleadings and threats from her husband’s family, the authorities and even her own mother, she insisted upon not leaving the room until her demand had been granted. Holding a pair of scissors in her hand and the baby girl in her arm, Zhang was willing to do whatever it would take to prevent this lovely little girl from sharing the same fate of her sister.

“No one can take you away from me, not now and ever.” If death was to be the inevitable outcome, she would gladly accept.

Zhang married into her husband’s household at the tender age of 17. Her marriage quickly made her the object of envy among her friends. Her husband’s family was one of the wealthiest in the rural town. She will probably spend the rest of her life not having to worry about making ends meet.

The early part of Zhang’s marriage was the happiest time of her life. Her husband’s family treated her extremely well. Zhang did not have to work or do any chore. She was given bird’s nests to consume every day. Before the marriage, her mother-in-law was told by a local matchmaker that Zhang was the perfect woman to bear children. Her husband was the family’s only son. They were hoping that she would bear a son for them to continue to the family’s line.

When she was pregnant for the first time, her husband’s parents threw a lavish party to mark the occasion. Zhang’s parents were showered with gifts. They had raised such a fine daughter, proclaimed the husband’s parents. Even when the predictor chart indicated Zhang’s child will be a girl, it did not damper the optimistic mood. 

“My gut instinct tells me that it will be a boy,” said her mother-in-law.

To their dismay, the prediction turned out to be correct. Zhang’s first child was a girl; she was named Orchid. Although the husband’s family had wanted a boy and not a girl, they remained cautiously optimistic. Zhang and her husband were relatively young. They will still have numerous opportunities to produce a son.

Almost five years after the birth of Orchid, Zhang became pregnant again. The five-year period seemed like a lifetime for the husband’s household. Zhang and her husband were not getting any younger; they were racing against time. To conform to the one-child law, their first-born was adopted by a childless relative who lived in another region.

When the husband’s parents learned that the second child would also be a girl, they were emotionally devastated. Upon hearing the news, Zhang’s mother-in-law nearly fainted from disappointment. "Another opportunity has been lost," bemoaned the mother.

The husband’s family started to question whether or not Zhang was even capable of producing a son. There were talks within the household of the possibility the husband would divorce her and marry a more “capable” woman. Some even suggested that Zhang should abort her unborn child to plan for her next child – hopefully a boy. Her mother-in-law went as far as asking the matchmaker for a refund.

Zhang was deeply distressed by the actions of her in-laws. Heaven knows how many sleepless nights she had had thinking about the matter, and how many tears she had shed bemoaning her fate. Whether it is a boy or a girl was beyond her control. What saddened her most were the unfounded hostilities toward her unborn child. Just because the unborn was going to be a girl did not give anyone permission to treat her this way.

Her second child was born under the most inauspicious of circumstances. Her husband was away and there was heavy downpour. Despite her desperate plea for assistance, the husband’s family deliberately ignored her. They acted as if they did not want the child to see the light of day. They wanted the child dead; the mere sight of her would disgust them.

Fortunately for Zhang and her unborn, an old friend and her husband heard about her situation and offered their help. The two kind souls brought her to the local medical center, where Zhang delivered her second daughter after a tough labor. She named her Daisy. What an adorable little girl Daisy was! She resembled a young Zhang with her angelic eyes and thin cheeks. 

“Hopefully your life will be a lot better than mine,” Zhang lamented.


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