06 June 2020
The Leavers
Lisa Ko


Yi Ba thought anything bad that happened to a woman was her fault. It made me sick. If a woman was unmarried it was her fault for being ugly or independent; if a woman was too devoted to her husband it was her fault for being mushy and desperate; if a husband had a girl on the side it was the wife's fault for driving him away and both the mistress and wife's faults for letting themselves get taken advatange of.
. . .
But it was grueling, how much a baby needed, how you would tug my hair and grab my shirt and latch onto my body because you owned it, too. Look how he wants his mama, my roommates would say, and a couple of them also got goo-goo-eyed, and a sliver of fear would present itself: what if I would always be required to offer myself up, ready and willing, constantly available? What had I done? And then: what was wrong with me?
. . .
Grandparents treat them better than they treated you. They know the babies are going to leave again. Old age softens people.