My parents planned my marriage at the age of 22 to a man I had never met, and I had very little say in the matter. I had three daughters for him, but he had always desired a son.
This was the source of his family’s stress and hostility, which they directed towards me. I was treated like a servant rather than their daughter-in-law and had no place in their home.
I accepted my fate with a quiet fortitude that can only be found in the most trying of circumstances. I was never allowed to eat at the table with the rest of the family.
They’d begin eating while I was still in the kitchen, and I’d have to wait until they were finished before taking my seat at the table. Normally, leftovers were scarce, but I made do and devoured every last piece of food on the dishes.
I heard a knock on our front door one frigid winter evening when my in-laws, husband, and daughters were out. I was astonished to find a thin little child at the door when I didn’t expect to see him for another few hours. He was shivering from the harsh cold and looked exceedingly emaciated, wearing worn slippers.
The tiny child begged me to let him in so he could get out of the cold, and he stated if I didn’t, he would starve and be unable to withstand the harsh weather. Of course, I couldn’t ignore him; he appeared to be frail, and I felt compelled to protect him.
I welcomed him inside and handed him a bowl of white rice. He thanked me for the meal before sitting in one of the kitchen’s corners and stuffing himself. It was painfully obvious that he hadn’t eaten anything in a long time.
He then urged me to take him in permanently, but my husband and his family would never agree due to my low standing in the family. Aside from that, I already have three kids to care for, so I told him that adopting this child was not a possibility.
However, I let him to stay in the house for a few more days before my in-laws and husband discovered I was secretly hiding the boy and threw him out.
Because of the slight dimples in his cheeks when he smiled, I gave him the nickname ‘dumpling.’ I went through the house looking for old cotton jackets that the girls had outgrown and handed them to the kid. I also packed food in the hopes that he would be able to survive on it for several days.
Twenty years have gone since my husband and in-laws died, and my daughters have all married and moved out of the house to start new lives in the city with their new families.
I live alone in a house that has caused me so much anguish over the years. My physique is gradually deteriorating as my age progresses.
Every day seemed to bring a new discomfort or agony. My children appear to have forgotten about me, since their visits have been less and less regular since they moved out. At this point, I’d be lucky if I saw them once a year.
I occasionally reflect on my actions and wonder what I did to earn this kind of existence. Who knows, maybe it’s a retribution for a previous existence.
When the doorbell rang one day, I was astonished to see a tall, young man standing in the entryway, as I was not expecting anyone. He gave me a friendly smile and recalled a time when I had taken a child in.
When I discovered this young man was the ‘dumpling’ child from years before, I was astonished.
He recalled how a reporter had tracked him down a few days after he arrived at our home and had assisted him in locating his parents. He wanted to pay us a visit sooner, but he couldn’t find our home at the time.
“Come stay with me and my wife,” he replied with a determined gaze after I told him about my current circumstances. I owe my life to you since you took me in when I was on the verge of death. Now I can finally repay the favor by taking care of you.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but he insisted on staying until I said yes. It’s funny how fate sometimes works in mysterious ways.
Nonetheless, I am grateful for God’s plan and would no longer be alone.