The Not-So-Golden Week That Was

Used to be that the domestic headlines from a “golden week” ended with little besides big, bullish numbers: the record-setting throngs of shoppers at malls, the umteen newlyweds tying the knot at mass weddings, the swelling tides of humanity making homecomings and tourist pilgrimages by plane, train and automobile. More and more, though, local metropolitans are keeping count of the underside to all this indulgence. According to fresh reports on Monday, we can credit this year’s National Day break with a rash of terminated marriages and pregnancies…

In Zhengzhou, a total 28 college coeds took up the city’s Number One People’s Hospital on its special offer of free, confidential abortions during the weeklong vacation. The city’s finest paper, the Dahe Bao (§ßÊ≤≥Êä•), filed a well-rounded account from the waiting room. A few roughly translated excerpts:

On October 2 at 7:50 a.m., three female university students came into the obstetrics ward for their appointments, accompanied by their boyfriends. Although this was free of charge, the hospital still conducted the various blood tests, X-rays and so on prior to the surgery. One woman, on hearing they would draw blood, was so scared that she was about to cry; her boyfriend immediately rushed over and held her in his arms to comfort her: ‘Fear not, fear not.’ Seeing this brought a look of surprise over the face of Hou Baoping, the director of gynecology.

Afterward, Director Hou sighed: ‘I thought these girls might come on their own, and be coy and shamefaced about it. I didn’t expect they’d all be accompanied by their boyfriends, and be laughing and chatting as they strolled the corridors’…

…Some city residents weren’t buying into the hospital’s “bold innovation”. The day it opened its hotline, the hospital began receiving damning phone calls: you’re a hospital doing this – what about this talk of medical ethics? Isn’t this condoning pre-marital ?”

Meanwhile in Nanjing, some 55 couples filed for on Sunday, when registration offices reopened for the first time since the holiday. The local tabloid Xiandai Kuaibao (现代快报) ran a sappy story that led off so:

Over the extended seven-day holiday, they summoned the soberness of mind to sort through their emotions, they reflected on the bumps encountered since they entered the “fortress”, and in the end, they chose divorce as the means to conclude their former lives, and usher in a new beginning….

…Of those who came in for divorces, 21 were young couples, or nearly 40 percent. Most of those came from among first the first group of only children born in the late 1970’s…

Yesterday morning at 10 am, in the waiting hall of the marriage registration office of the civil affairs bureau of Gulou District, there arrived a married couple just a little over 30 years of age. They walked into the hall bearing awkward looks on their faces. As the man approached a staffer, the woman stood a little way’s away, watching the people in the hall go back and forth.

The man handed over their marriage contract and two licenses, and the staffer discovered that the couple’s photo had already been torn out of one of them. ‘Without a photo it’s no good. You’ll have to go replace your identification. Then the staffer handed the materials back.

The man’s face turned red. ‘She ripped it during an argument. Aren’t we here together in person? Plus we have our I.D.’ But the staffer shook his head and told them they had to go the archives bureau, locate their original marriage file and make a proper copy of the photo. Left with no other alternative, the man could only gather his materials and leave. The woman followed him out. From start to finish, the two did not say a word to one another…