About three days had passed since I had last heard that voice. The days passed as I laid in something which I supposed was a cradle. Despite all my efforts to speak, all I could make were baby sounds. So in the end I stopped trying. Unfortunately this caused people around me to panic, wondering if I needed a doctor. So to satisfy them, I made sure to cry every now and then.I came to understand that I… have been reborn as a baby!
I know it sounds preposterous. Most definitely, it was not a dream. I had seen my mother and my older sisters. I had not yet seen myself in a mirror, but I heard comments about how adorable I was. They didn’t speak Korean, but I was still able to surmise the meaning naturally. Given the craziness of my new reality, nothing really surprised me.
I became accustomed to my new surroundings as the days passed. Perhaps it was a blessing that I was an infant, unable to move as I pleased. After being murdered so suddenly, the shock might have overwhelmed me. If I had my faculties fully restored, I might have killed myself.
The woman I had learned was my mother sat beside me. She remarked wistfully, “If only you had been born a boy.”
Well, look here, lady — Ah, I guess I should call you Mother. I am clearly a girl. Deal with it.
Swaddled up in smooth silk in a crib, I was able to glean that I wasn’t in any ordinary world. Nothing was lacking in my surroundings. There was a TV and a refrigerator. The house’s interior looked like a house you’d find on Earth, which was a relief. I was surrounded by objects that I had found familiar. Thankfully, I hadn’t been brought back to life in the Middle Ages. I had at least been spared that abject squalor. From what I’d heard, it was quite common back then to squat and relieve oneself on the road. And what a horror it would have been to live in a world with no TVs or computers!
Another few days passed during which I saw my father once more. My brain was that of an infant’s, so it processed slowly and my memory was terrible. Even so, I had a clear memory of his face.
Putting all else aside, he was good looking. He had a short, sporty cut and a broad, well-formed forehead. Framed with his full brows, his dark eyes that seemed to look down on me apathetically, still had a certain charm. His nose emerged from a high bridge, his lips’ rosy tint evidenced his good health, and his chin was chiseled sharp enough to cut through paper. He was good looking. Sorry. How many times did I say that? Sorry but he was. Though he was cold as he was dreamy.
“If you’re really sorry, try hard to birth a boy next time,” he was saying now.
Sorry for what? Giving birth to me? I wanted to holler at him, but I could only muster a feeble whimper.
“What a racket. That’s the problem with girls. Too loud.”
Look here, you asshole. I know from taking care of my nephew. Boy or girl, all babies cry. You don’t like my crying? I only cry when circumstances dictate I should do so. The injustice!
I saw his face rarely. Despite the apathy of his gaze, I had to admit he was… so damn good looking. Credit had to be given where credit was due, no matter how much it annoyed me.
As time passed, I was able to discern more and more, even though I wasn’t quite walking yet. This world was different, for sure. Men were supreme here for reasons I couldn’t understand. And even if the reasons were known, anyone from the twenty-first century would have had some trouble getting used to it. Of course even in the twenty-first century Earth, it’s not hard to find vestiges of patriarchy. There were still honor killings of daughters and sisters by fathers and brothers. However, the kind of male dominance here was on a different level, as I came to understand its shocking brutality.
“Princess, it’s time for your feeding,” a voice said.
I could identify the time period. It was probably not far removed from the one I was from. Since there was a king, this was not a republic with elected officials. I had also learned that this was an empire. Incredibly, the king was my father. He was a benevolent king, who ruled justly. All of this meant that I was a princess, born in the lap of luxury, at least that’s how it was on the surface.
“Sujin, play with me!” Tsk. That annoying voice again.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Hey wait feed me! I’m hungry! I wanted to say. Or at least put the food in my little grasp!
Sujin, our nanny, abandoned me to tend to the little prince.
Seriously??? Doesn’t human decency require you to at least feed me first?
Evidently, relieving a baby prince from boredom was more important than feeding a starving princess, for females were nothing more than vessels for men’s seeds. This much, I’ve gathered from the quiet grumbling of my mother.
I knew now I was not in Korea. I had been transplanted in a polygamist society. To someone of the twenty-first century, this was truly unusual. Here was a technologically advanced society, enjoying peace and prosperity. There was no rationale for men to have this dominance. When the standard of living went up, women’s rights naturally increased. But not here.
My fury rose. As of yet, I had no power, but I planned to be a force of sweeping change. Whether or not this was even possible was a matter to consider another day. For now… Hungry, I gazed at the milk bottle with intense longing.
I’ll change this wretched world for good! My stomach growled, but I swear I wasn’t just saying this because I was hungry.