Gull

Chapter Six continued...
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Most parents appeared to have withdrawn into the family circle, absorbed in trying to deal with their own grief, and did not say much about contact with neighbors or outsiders. But one severely depressed mother expressed her unhappiness that she was now vulnerable to other people's contempt:

Sometimes I think how much better it would be if it were only myself and my son in the world. Then we wouldn't be looked down upon by others, and wouldn't have to listen to those voices that sound like goodwill but are actually making fun of us behind our backs.

This mother felt so guilty about her son's deafness (caused by injections given to treat a high fever) that she had contemplated committing suicide; perhaps her depression colored her perceptions of other people. But she identifies another adversity faced by parents of disabled children in China, especially in the countryside—they become the objects of gossip, and they have to work harder to maintain their self-respect.

In some families there were added twists to the shock of discovering deafness in their child. The national family planning regulations, in conjunction with a strong desire for male children, sometimes contributed to the difficulties. One man described the price his sister paid for wanting a son:

My sister has five children. The first four are girls. They are all very healthy, lovely, and clever. They're all doing very well at school. However my sister wanted very much to have a son.

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