Antewar

A woman was on a train when the old lady across from her struck up a conversation. The two seemed like a good match: the old lady was accompanied by a young boy, and the woman had a baby strapped across her chest. The topic eventually moved to the woman’s baby, and as all old ladies are, this one was somewhat curious. Is it a boy or a girl? It’s a girl. She’s going to grow up to become a beautiful woman. When was she born, what time of day, in which city. Each of these questions was linked to other discussions about astrology, local news, and whatnot, but the baby always came back as the focus of the interaction. Eventually the woman had to go use the restroom, and the old lady offered to hold onto the baby for her. She thought about it for a moment, then politely declined, saying she needed to check the diapers anyways and wouldn’t want to intrude if it was already used.

When the train reached the terminal station, the woman had walked only a few paces when she found that her shirt was caught on something. It was the boy, and he had a worried face on. He said in a loud voice,

Where are you taking my baby sister?

The old lady had just finished hobbling down the steps exiting the train and spoke in an unusually maternal tone, Thank you for holding onto my granddaughter, I can take her from here. By now a small crowd had gathered around, and some bystanders were saying Look at this crazy woman, she wants a baby so much she’s stealing someone else’s. But that’s what’s happening to me, I’m not the one at fault here, said the woman. The old lady and the young boy tugged at opposite ends, both trying to undo the fastener on the strap, and the woman tried the best she could to protect herself and her baby. The old lady said Calm down miss, I can prove it to you that the baby is mine. The little girl’s birthday is so and so day and she was born at so and so location… the crowd became even more convinced when a fancy car with a chaffeur showed up, and some vigilantes started making their way through the crowd to attempt to help the apparent grandmother and apparent brother save their girl from the delusional young woman.

One of those vigilantes was the woman’s husband, who had finally arrived, and started shouting at everyone his identity and that they could prove the baby was theirs.

The woman, finally relieved of the physical pressure from the two assaulters and granted the benefit of doubt from the crowd, said

“This baby is my son.”

– story told by my father, translated and adapted into English from Cantonese

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