dimarts, 3 de març del 2009

The period police

"To keep my life from ruin, I launched a self-rescue mission. Firstly I bought a fragment of deer horn musk at considerable expense -its strong aroma was supposed to trigger a miscarriage. I sniffed it greedily like a dog and kept it under my pillow at night. But nothing happened. The following night, I went to the dark riverside to jump down from the steep embankment, hoping to jerk the baby out of my body. Despite my milirary style vigor, nothing happened. Later, I returned to dive into the river and soak myself into the smelly cold water -icy water could induce an abortion, it was believed. I just caught a cold."

Doctor Zhang put her mask back on, ready to datai -"beat the fetus"- the painfully graphic Chinese term for abortion. "Da, da, da, beat, beat, beat", my ears began to ring. I gripped the edge of the operation table, terrified I was to be butchered alive. No anesthesia. I heard the machine being switched on, then something cold and metal went deep inside me and stabbed my tender womb.

It was growing very well. I kept hearing the cheerful remarks the nurse had made when she took the aborted fetus away. Chinese women attached little emotion to abortion, a common form of birth control. My sister had one and my mother three or four. I thought I would be overjoyed to be rid of it, like a tumor. But I was gripped by a hollow feeling.

"Aiya, Little Zhang, why are you looking so pale?" Boss Lan greeted me when I made my way to the workshop. "Study late last night?"
"No, woman's problem. I'll have to go to the hygiene room shortly," I replied with perfect assurance [...]
"Zhang Lijia, from Work Unit Number Twenty-three," I showed my work pass to the woman behind the desk, cracking watermelon seeds. There was already a pile of husks on the concrete floor.
"Haolai", the woman, short and round, her width almost equal to her height, took my pass and turned around to look for my file. Every month, when each woman in the factory had her period, she needed to report to family planning staff, nicknamed the "period police", stationed at this hygiene room.
"Oh, you're rather late this month," she remarked, studying my card, dense with the dates of my monthly visits [...]
She tailed me closely to the toilet, still chewing. Before squatting down to wash my private parts with hot water from pipes fitted with foot-controlled valves, I showed her my bloodstained sanitary towel. Most women might be embarrased by the task, but she had been performing it uneasiness. In fact, she often remarked on what she saw. "Oh, you`ve got very heavy flow Ask your mum to boil you some eggs." Or "Aiya, what bushy hair you've got down there!" Privacy was a luxury in no Chinese expected. Presently, she crancked her neck for a better look and said: "You've got some blood clots. No wonder you are late. Try black-boned chicken soup with ginseng". She fancied herself as an amateur gynecologist."

Zhang Lijia, Socialism is great! (and my review)