A Frigid Birth­day

Special Focus - - Contents - Xi Fengqun

Mother al­ways re­mem­bers the date of my birth. Ev­ery year, af­ter the win­ter sol­stice, she would chat­ter about how cold it was when I was born. The day be­fore my birth­day, the whole fam­ily gath­ered to­gether around the fire. Mother felt slight la­bor pains, but since there were still a few days left be­fore the ex­pected due date, she as­sumed that I was just naugh­tily protest­ing her fa­tigue dur­ing the day.

How­ever, at mid­night, my mother was awak­ened by throes and con­vul­sions. Fa­ther car­ried her on his bike, rush­ing to the down­town hos­pi­tal, but I couldn’t wait any longer to see the world.

“It was freez­ing cold, and you were born on the road on our way to the hos­pi­tal. You and I lay down on the icy hard ground, wait­ing for the mid­wife to come. We stayed there for about … maybe half an hour? I cud­dled you so tightly, fear­ing that you would freeze to death. I was pan­icked—I didn’t want any­thing bad to hap­pen to you,” said Mother.

When the mid­wife came with my fa­ther on his bike, Mother had passed out be­cause of the cold­ness, but she still cud­dled me tightly in her arms. Af­ter cut­ting the um­bil­i­cal cord, the mid­wife lifted me up­side down and spanked my butt three times. Fi­nally, I burst out cry­ing.

Mother said she was too numb to say any­thing, but she will never for­get the floods of tears that froze on her face.

(From Food and Life, April 2016. Trans­la­tion: Yu Lan)

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