Aaaaaa, she said, slapping on the plastic table with her palms.
She was wearing a pink cotton hat that fit her head snugly, making her look terribly cute. Waaa.waaa, she said. She slapped on the table a few more times, sometimes with one hand, sometimes with both. I wondered if that meant anything to her. Perhaps it was something in baby language that adults just did not understand.
Her mother looked on fondly. She was petite, with a chalk-white face, round eyes like a frightened rabbit, round red-rimmed glasses and a very pleasant smile. She looked like a very prim graduate student and spoke broken English with a strong Chinese accent. Her father was also Asian, but more Americanized. He was tall and heavily built, tanned, with longish hair that was naturally frizzy. White flecks of paint dotted his jeans. He played with her a bit but then placed her in a makeshift baby basin that the flight attendants attached to the wall, and soon fell asleep.
The mother fished out a novel and began reading, but the baby would not go to sleep. She began making bleating sounds like a lamb that was not loud, but still a bit disturbing. [At least it was not at all like the horrendous sound that the child next door makes. That child practically screams at the top of its lungs as if upset to be brought upon the woes of this world. His grandmother, whose bellowing voice he probably takes after, spends half her time appeasing him, calling him her “darling puppy” and the other half sharply scolding him. This two-faced behavior, I’m sure, does nothing if not confuse the poor child, for all I can see.]
But returning to the mother on the plane.
She gathered up the baby in her arms, and the little girl soon quieted down. But when placed in the baby basin, she began whimpering. The mother unsuccessfully tried several times to leave the baby in the basin, but ended up strapping the child on her belly like a kangaroo and pacing the aisles of the plane, as the dear thing blinked innocently, her round white face snuggled on her mother’s shoulder.
Throughout this escapade, the baby’s father has not waken, not even stirred the slightest bit from a deep slumber. The small woman, who seems tired already from the weight of the child, wrinkles her nose at her husband and pokes a finger in his cheek. He smacks his lips a few times, but does not wake.
The baby is far from tired. She has an intelligent look in her eyes like her mother and is busy observing the people on the plane, including the young woman sitting across the aisle from her father.