Mother?

Still in a daze, Xiaoguo felt like she had a very long dream.

In her dream, she was born 3,000 years ago in the State of Shao (42 BC) within the Peach Blossom Village. Her name was also Qin Xiaoguo. Xiaoguo was famed for her beauty in this village. She had been married for 3 years to Jiang Danhe, a well-known burly man in the Peach Blossom Village. Jiang Danhe was handsome and tall. Many matchmakers were eager to find him a bride once he came of age.

It was a time when food was scarce. Therefore, with a bag of grains as her bride price, Xiaoguo was married off to Jiang Danhe, a total stranger. On the day of her wedding, Xiaoguo went through the rites wearing a veil. After which, she sat in the bridal chamber and waited for the groom to enter and lift her bridal veil.

After the wedding night, the sound of gongs and drums could be heard at dawn. Before Qin Xiaoguo could get up, two men in military uniforms suddenly rushed in and grabbed her husband who had just woken up.

Still in shock, she heard her mother-in-law shouting from outside, “Sir, you can’t, you can’t. My son has just gotten married and has no descendants yet. Please show us some mercy and let him go!”

“Madam, all men from each and every household have to serve the army. Since he is the only man in your house, we have to bring him along.”

Advertising

Hearing her mother-in-law’s heart-wrenching cries, Xiaoguo knew that these men were gathering male commoners to join the army.

At the thought of this, Xiaoguo threw on a coat and ran out. She wrapped her arms around her mother-in-law, who was kneeling in the courtyard. She could only see the back of her husband as he was being grabbed by the officials. He was held down and could not turn his head. Without looking at them, Jiang Danhe told the two women to take care of themselves and wait for him to return.

Thereafter, officials came on a periodic basis to fetch able, young men to the army. Constant cries could be heard from the old and the young within the village. The villagers were devastated to part with their loved ones. Seeing this, the officials felt a bit sorry for them, and consoled them. “Hey, hey! This is a good opportunity for everyone. If they survive the war and secure a good post in the future, it will make your ancestors proud.” As soon as he finished speaking, he commanded the army to leave the village. There were no more men left in the village except for a handful of those who were weak and old. From then on, only women, children and weak elderly men were left in Peach Blossom Village.

Xiaoguo helped her mother-in-law into the house. “Mother…”

“Xiaoguo, all hope is on you now.” Her mother-in-law sobbed as she pointed at Xiaoguo’s abdomen. She had been crying so hard that she was panting as she spoke. Even as she said that, she felt unsure. After all, it was only one night…

Her mother-in-law’s words gave her great pressure and fear. Deep in her heart, she knew that there were very few people who could survive and return from the battlefield. Being a newly-wed and having her husband taken away, all she has now is her mother-in-law. Besides… Her mind was filled with thoughts, Xiaoguo looked at her stomach. What are the chances… after just one night.

Advertising


After the men were taken to join the army, their families would be paid a tael of silver every month as compensation. This was also evidence that they were still alive and fighting on the battlefields. Qin Xiaoguo took this monthly payment as a form of consolation. As long as there was money each month, it meant that her husband was still alive. This provided everyone in the village with hope and comfort, knowing that their loved ones were safe.

By a stroke of luck and her mother-in-law’s prayers, Xiaoguo got pregnant after her wedding night. Her mother-in-law, who was full of sorrow, had at least something to look forward to. Throughout her pregnancy, Xiaoguo was free to rest and did not have to do any household chores.

Very soon, it was time to deliver the baby. Xiaoguo gave birth to a healthy and chubby boy. The arrival of the baby made her mother-in-law so happy that she could not stop smiling for three days. The child grew day by day, and payments from the army came in continually each month. Their lives gradually got better as the days went by.

Then one day, the money did not come in. Knowing the implications, her mother-in-law fell ill. As much as she was mentally prepared that such a day would come, she could not accept the bad news and became really sick. As the village was stricken by famine during that time, she didn’t manage to overcome her illness and died shortly after.

Qin Xiaoguo held back her grief and made arrangements for her mother-in-law’s funeral. Before she could start grieving, she had to pull herself together and start gathering food. Due to a major drought, all the crops had wilted and there was no harvest. Those with some money would travel to town to get their supply of food. At a time like this, food prices in the city had already skyrocketed.

Xiaoguo didn’t have any money left. She had to take care of her son, who was just three years old. They lived from hand to mouth and soon her child became thin and malnourished. In order to let her child eat more, Xiaoguo often went without eating for three to four days in a row. This quickly led to health problems in Xiaoguo over some time.

Advertising

Some time passed and the drought finally ended. Rain fell and filled up the rivers. The soil became moist again and life slowly got better for everyone in the village.

One morning, when Xiaoguo was about to leave the house and look for food, she fell and died on the spot.

At the next moment, Xiaoguo ‘s eyebrows twitched. The child sitting by the bed shouted excitedly, “Mother! Boohoo, wake up! Mother… Boohoo.”

Unable to bear the sound of crying, Xiaoguo opened her tired eyes and slowly turned to look at the child who was hugging her. What she saw jolted her into consciousness. ”

Where did this little black monkey come from?

The little boy pouted and sobbed in indignation. “Mother… .”