Point of View

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story I wrote a while ago. It's about a girl living in Shanghai, China who is pressured by her parents to go through limb-lengthening surgery. In China at the moment, this surgery has become very popular because the tall people are favored in the country. Because of this, the smaller citizens of China resort to limb-lengthening in order to go to a good university, have a sucessful life, and marry a favorable spouse. This surgery is a long painful process that struck a chord with me, especially because I am small as well. This is an important matter, and I hope you enjoy my story :D

Submitted: April 19, 2008

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Submitted: April 19, 2008

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Short Story: Di?n1
“You’d have them put something like that in my bone?” I exclaimed in disbelief. My shu?ng q?n2 glanced at me as if I had four heads. They held in their hand a picture of a girl with metal rods in her bone and metal cages engulfing her legs. Her face expressed indescribable pain that made me want to vomit. “You desire for me to go through an excruciatingly painful surgery where they break my legs and insert a metal rod into them for months and then magically come out of the surgery taller? Are you insane?” They looked at me hopefully as if asking me to cut off my own legs. Well, if I willingly went through with this medical nightmare it would be kind of like cutting off my own legs. In addition to that I’d be inserting metal rods into my legs for over a year and having medieval torture devices attached to them as well. I’m 157 cm tall and my own parents wanted to send me to a hospital for about 18 months to go through an unbelievable operation because “157 cm is not good enough anymore.” 
“But you will be beautiful! Tall! It is worth it! Ask your cousin Mamura! She got the surgery and look how happy she is! You can grow up to 12.5 cm taller and your future will be brighter…” my mom said trying to coax me like a tiny bee to honey-sweet words.  My stomach began to tumble and caused me to throw up a little in my mouth. Gross.
“Mamura?” I questioned with an awful taste in my mouth, “She has always had issues with her appearance niáng3!  She used to be bulimic, and you believe she is now content with her current height? It is a disease, that can’t be solved with a surgery or any medical procedure, no plastic surgery or anything of that matter can change your happiness. This disease is the willingness of so many to change their appearance because they convince themselves that happiness will be the result. I wish more people would know, especially Mamura and those government officials who think that I am lowly compared to the rest of the nation because I did not grow 7.5 centimeters taller, that in the end we all become dust. It’s not my fault that my body did not wish for me to grow taller, and people can’t seem to cope with the fact that there are a few things you can’t change with a few centimeters.”

“In America, there is an injection they give to children with a condition called ‘growth hormone disorder.’ That is when your body is too small. The Americans are smart. They give it to their kids when they are young and growing. They take care of the problem before one stops growing. Genius!” my 4 said with a glow in his eyes.  He desired for me to get the surgery just as much as my mother because he supposedly has “my best interests at heart.” What about my body’s?

“Well then I suppose the Americans are finally less barbaric than us! Do the parents in America force their children to break their bones in the hopes of better futures? How could you be so selfish?” They were now pouting and glancing at each other more frequently.  My statements had struck a chord with my m?5, as she has been having a difficult time finding a new job due to her height. She’s 3 centimeters taller than I am.
“Are we selfish if we wish what is best for you n? ér6? We see many people suffer because their height causes them prejudice. We do not ask you to change yourself for us, but for you so you can have a bright qián tú7 and a wonderful husband. Do you not want this and more?” My m? asked me with tearful eyes. Great. Now my shu?ng q?n are relying on zuì8 to persuade me to go through the unthinkable.
“We got a brochure from Dr. Chen. You should look at.” my father said as if it was “no big deal.” I looked at my parents with disgust. How could they treat me this way and try to force me into a situation that is painful and also irreversible? I looked at my shoes and then looked at my hopeful parents. I snatched the brochure.  

“I guess you are not happy with the way I was intended to be! This defies God and everything we believe in, but I suppose it is worth it for you because it will ensure a financially stable and very rich future. Bà, do parents in America ask their children to drastically change in order to help their selfish parents achieve their goals?” My parents stared at me, again with tears in their eyes and trying to force zuì on me like a boulder off a cliff. “No response?” I yelled as I ran out the door of our standard sized apartment in Shanghai. As I ran down the steps of our building, the lights of the city welcomed me with warmth. I didn’t mind for once how small I was compared to the surrounding buildings—I feel ti?n rán9 being smaller then the towering lights and structures.

After walking down my favorite street, Nanjing Road, I realized that my stomach was growling. I patted and searched my pockets to see if I had any Yuan10 left over. Aha! Twenty Yuan! I gleefully ran down the street with dizzying lights accompanying me along the way. I walked up the familiar streets until I stopped in front of a quaint, casual c?n gu?n11 and decided to go in. The c?n gu?n was making me intoxicated with all of its delightful aromas. I read a sign that said “seat yourself then order up front. Waiter sick today.” and decided to seat myself at a table near the window. The menu’s filled with many traditional dishes, and they are all very inexpensive making me happy. I might need some money left over to buy my parents a “sorry that I don’t want you to give a doctor the permission to saw through my legs to make me taller” card. That might be a little difficult to find. The “four happiness pork” dish is my favorite so I decided to order that. Shanghai is considered the pork capital, and I need a little uplifting after my parent situation. My cell phone had been vibrating all night except I don’t want to bother picking it up. It’s just my mom or dad trying to know if I’m safe and where I am. Gosh. They care about that but they want to put me in harm’s way to increase my height? I’m definitely getting the pork.

I walked up to the window of the kitchen and the chef behind the door asked excitedly what I wanted to eat. There were only two other people in the restaurant, and I suppose he was happy that some new business came by. Suddenly, a tall man walked through the door. He almost bumped his head trying to enter the establishment. The chef’s eyes widened.

N? h?o12 sir! Please don’t mind this lady, and come on over and let me make you some food! The best in Shanghai! Don’t mind this short girl, she’s not as important…” the chef continued to ramble on about the superior quality of his cuisine while I stood in disbelief for the second time tonight. His words rung in my ears and the world began to spin. When did it matter that I was short before now? Why don’t I matter? The tall man looked down on me and smiled as if knowing something I did not.  He gave me a worn business card and then asked the chef for sizzling rice soup. I shoved the card in my pocket and glared at the chef. He went away and did not notice that I was a human being, filling me with anger that I projected at the chef until the tall man sat at my old seat, and moved all of my stuff to a seat in the corner.  Now I didn’t know if I was angrier at the chef for disregarding my importance or the tall man for allowing the abuse to continue in the first place and moving my stuff disrespectfully to the dark corner. 
“Hey! That’s my stuff sir and I don’t believe you have the right to do this to me!”I exclaimed after I returned from the chef and his short jokes. The man stood up and towered over me once again. For the first time in years, I felt ruò13.
“What are you going to do about it small one?” he asked with a sly grin.

“I am going to ask you nicely to apologize and allow me to sit back at my seat!”

Your seat short girl? Not anymore…” after saying this he sat down again and slurped his soup loudly forcing me to return to my corner in defeat. I was very angry about the situation. The tall man’s business card sat crumbled in my pocket. I looked at the card and then realized it was a business card for a doctor specializing in limb lengthening. I didn’t know how to feel about that anymore until my phone vibrated again. It was my mom. Well I guess this was going to happen sooner or later…unfortunately. I didn’t think about this at all and now I want to…? I have to. I answered the phone giving her an answer that made her extremely satisfied.
“Fine. You win. What do I have to do?”
“So are you happy about your decision that you made two years ago then in that restaurant? Look how pretty your legs came out! They’re gorgeous and you are sure to have a successful husband and career.” stated my cousin Mamura who was lying down in the hospital ward next to me. The world began to come into focus again after my realistic flashback of the day I decided to conform to society.
“I’m…. not sure.” I said as I glanced at the scars on my legs. I winced as another flashback engulfed me.
 
Three months after the restaurant…
“Am I supposed to be strapped down like this to the table?” I asked the doctor in fear. I was lying down on a metal table surrounded by doctors hidden under masks of white, and for the first time in three months I was having second thoughts…

“This operation is safe, and you will be so beautiful in the end. Do not worry. This is worth it.” said a female doctor fiddling around with tools off to the side.

“Where are my parents? My m?? My bà? I want… I want…” I started to feel woozy and realized a man was over me with a mask that he was putting over my head. Wait… It was the nozzle of a container of sleeping gas. I laughed to myself. Of course they want you to have one last laugh before they damage your limbs.
“They are fine and in the lobby waiting for you. This operation can get a little…messy, so we asked them to stay in the lobby for now. Don’t worry, a better future awaits you…” The room began to get blurred as I breathed in the gas and all I could think of was that I hope I do not regret this decision of changing myself because of society… I hope I don’t regret this… Wait I want to… Suddenly the room was no longer blurry but dark and I was lulled into a deep sleep with the sound of my laughter, my last sounds of happiness, and an echo of the person I once was. Only an echo…
“…so then my friend Xie said that the fastest way to end it was using pills and using a noose like an extension cord that or a material like rope that won’t break even with added weight. So I hung my rope that I tied into a noose up on my ceiling fan and let myself drop until…. Hey! Are you even listening to me? Gosh you’ve been so spacey ever since the sh?u shù14.”
“What were you saying? Oh yeah the story of how you tried to end your… never mind.” I said after looking at Mamura in the hospital bed. “The red markings on your neck are getting better.” I said hopefully. Is this going to be where I am in a year? In the same bed she is relying on today? I told everyone that the limb lengthening surgery would not bring happiness, only happiness that starts from within can ever bring one joy. But I was silenced by society and forced to conform and become identical to them.  No plastic face morphing or… Wait. I can’t believe it, but I caught the disease. My eyes widened and my facial expression mirrored my feelings of anguish.

“Hey I know that look…” Mamura said sleepily, “You just realized you caught it didn’t you?” she paused and winced in pain, then jammed her thumb into the nurse button. Probably for more painkillers, she isn’t supposed to be talking this much.  “Welcome to the club.” she opened the dividing curtain that revealed a room filled with beautiful men and women. They were very tall, and had identical scars on their legs. Automatically I knew they were all in hospital beds for the same reason as Mamura. “Don’t worry bi?o q?n15, you’ve always been strong and confident. You shall never be in a bed here like me… like us…” She began to ramble on again as tears came to my eyes. If only she knew that I am only an echo of that person she once knew…

The End.
Chinese Word Reference:
1. Point of view
2. Parents
3. Mother, Troubled mother
4. Father
5. Mother
6. Daughter
7. Future
8. Guilt
9. Natural
10. Chinese money, kind of money
11. Restaurant
12. Hello
13. Inferior, young, weak, feeble
14. Surgical operation, operation, surgery
15. Cousin


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