Too Many Children 多子多孫

Traditional Chinese families welcome as many children as possible, but they prefer males.  My mother said that my Dad would stomp off every time a girl was born to him, staying with the other wife for weeks.  My grandmother, who lived with us, would say that at least the girls weren’t killed, like they did in the village where my father was born.

When I was born, Dad did his disappearing act but then two weeks later, his number one wife gave birth to another daughter.  I don’t know where he went after that but at his funeral, a woman turned up with her family, claiming to be a third wife.  My mother threw them out so I’d never met some of my half siblings.  In our family we have a rule: ‘never marry anyone with the same surname’.

As she was still howling at the misfortune of delivery a girl, my mother was already scheming to secure her position in the family.  The fact that I was born under thunderous star signs was a good reason to give me away.  She was then free to take over the household.  It worked; number one died after giving birth to yet another girl and my mother reigned supreme, never allowing another woman into the family.

There was a price that she had to pay.  With eight children on her hands (minus me, but I returned) she was not to have any children for another six years.  There were seven abortions in that interval.

During the next interval of six years I accompanied my mother to one of her abortions.  It was simple.  She disappeared behind a curtain with the doctor and a nurse and came out soon after, free again.  But I can still remember the bitter tone of her voice when she spoke of those lost siblings of mine.

About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
This entry was posted in Memoir and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Too Many Children 多子多孫

  1. angela1313 says:

    In one of my Chinese history classes we had the honor of having a Mrs. Chen in our class as part of an elder program. She encouraged me to read Dream of Red Chamber and assured me it truly described how things were even up to her generation. The day she brought her mother in law’s tiny shoes in to show the class it created quite an uproar. But every society has customs and practices which lead to unfortunate outcomes I think. That’s why we should share and learn from each other 谢谢.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. henrywest says:

    Thank you for sharing your posts with us. I’ve thought about responding earlier but I cannot find anything to say. I’m amazed at your strength. I don’t think I would have survived. You did and you’re even stronger for telling us. The test of character is how we cope with our hardship. Beyond this blog you must be an outstanding human. My best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a painful way of life.

    Liked by 1 person

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