A story from the paper

China is a huge country, in it there are many people, the whole 1.3 billion of them. Each one of them has his/her own emotion, likes, dislikes, love, hatred, desires, and dream. The story I want to relay to you was about a young woman a good many years ago in Shenzhen. It was her desire and dream. I read about her in the new paper last month. She was on trial.

Her name was X, in the early nineties she worked in Shenzhen as a factory worker. She was in her twenties, people fall in love all the time, as she did with a young man from the same factory.

Sure they were in love, but the guy was non committal, and she tried desperately to win his heart and all. This carried on a bit and finally they broke up.

The young woman has a neighbor who is of the same age and pregnant, they got along very well because they both were from out of province. It was a bit of helping each other to get through the day in a new city.

X was licking her wounds and pouring her heart out to her neighbor, her neighbor couldn’t really help much in that situation, it takes two to tangle, “in love” was one thing, “getting married” took some courage. X’s ex. boyfriend was in no mood of taking this huge leap. And it was a stalemate.

One day the light bulb went on in X’s head, bear in mind, she was only in her early twenties. She hatched a plan that she thought would get her ex. to marry her.

Her neighbor in the mean time had given birth to a baby boy. X baby sat for the baby now and then since she was not working at the time. Evil thoughts took over one day while baby sitting, she took the baby and left town.

Indeed in those days, everyone has to register for any new born, she went back to her home town, registered the baby under her ex. boy friend’s last name, told the authority that the new father had to wrap up his job in Shenzhen and would soon follow and settle down with the family in her home town.

Communication was not so advanced those days; the young couple came home from their work, found the baby and X missing. They were of course heart broken, authority was sympathetic but not too helpful, to find a missing baby in rural China is like finding a needle in the hay stack. Except it was hundreds times more difficult. Because there were hundreds of hay stacks.

At the mean time, X called her ex. in Shenzhen, told him that she was ashamed because after their breaking up, she found out she was pregnant and so she left town with the baby. Yes, it was a boy, and it was his own flesh and blood. Now the ball was in his court.

The young man did the honorable things, came to town, married her, and they together had another child over the years. For years the young couple whose child was stolen grieved over their lost. And for years X’s conscience
silently reminding her of her own youthful indiscretion. She was ashamed, but she could not tell her own husband, she could not tell anyone.

One day, she could not bear the thought of carrying her own secret to her grave alone anymore. She went to the police station, confessed the whole plot and admitted responsibly.

Now fast forward some twenty years, DNA analysis, computer imaging, wireless communication are all available, and with the help of Shenzhen Authority. Within months, the couple who lost their child was tracked down, paternity tests were done, and the lost boy was reunited with his birth parents.

Now the dilemma began.

X was hauled before the court, her family and the other family was in tailspins, the stolen child – testified in court that the only mother he ever knew was the only mother he ever loved – pleaded mercy for her.

X – After so many yeas of silent suffering with her own guilt, just wanted the nightmare to over. Her husband – the young man who got tricked into marrying her, also pleaded for her, stating that she was a loving mother for both of their children.

The other family sat in court silently, staring at the now middle aged woman, wondering how this happened.
I stumbled onto this piece of news from a newspaper while flying from Shenzhen to Chengdu. Looking out the cabin window, I saw a vast land with lots of people, all eager to earn a living, make a living, establish relationship, being rejected, being accepted, but they all try the best they can, the best they know how.

I remembered the breakfast vendor in Chengdu who sold ten hot pot stickers on the road side for five RMB, and a hot soy drink for one RMB. I commented to her how delicious her food was, and told her I will be back. Her tired eyes just lighted up.

I remembered the Tibetan lady who tried to sell me some tourist’s trinkets on top of this mountain high on the mountain plateau where the Yangtze River begins. When I declined, she got so desperate and she tugged on my coat tail, saying that she hadn’t had a sale for two days. She was almost angry at me.

I remembered the couple in Ningbo who picked recyclable material out of a garbage hip near a big school; their young son was sleeping on their cart, amongst the stuff they picked out. A few weeks later, the garbage hips were removed, and the property is being prepared for new construction.

I spent three months in a country where humanity and relationships are being played out everyday. I spent time in a factory where workers routinely work a twelve hour day – with two days off in a month.

In little more than three weeks, the world’s largest annual exodus will take place in China before the beginning of the Lunar New Year.

Movies have been made about this phenomenon, people out West take jobs out of town, because the pay is much better, or the job being offered is prestigious.

People over there go out of town, by train, by bus to some far away places to work because there is absolutely no work where they grew up. I spoke with all the floor production workers where I stayed; all of them were from out of town…

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