When I was younger I would always ask my mother how she knew she hadn’t picked up the wrong baby at the hospital. At the time it seemed like a very plausible thing that could have happened to me. I was almost positive I was living with a family that I did not belong to.
Every time I asked her, she would down at me from her tall stance, and the hard lines around her eyes would soften just a little. Umma said that she knew that I was her baby because when I was born I was the ugliest baby in the whole hospital. Umma said that she knew for a fact nobody would want a pink crying chimpanzee like me.
Surely I wasn’t the ugliest baby in the hospital, I would say. There must have been an uglier baby. Umma shook her head ardently. She said that all my aunts and uncles traveled from near and far and each and every one of them said that I was ugly, pink, and fat.
I would always shiver when thinking about my former worm-like self wiggling and writhing, making all my mother’s siblings lose their appetites.
Ah don’t worry, Soojung, Umma would say as she pushed back my hair.
I always knew you would turn out to be marvelous.
You had these eyes, Soojung.
Eyes as dark as night,
That just sparkled like stars.
Ever since the beginning, I knew you were sharp.
I knew you were special.
I knew you were