A young Burmese client of the resettlement office had given birth just a week before, and was now in the office sorting out some kind of paperwork with one of my colleagues. Meanwhile, my Uzbek colleague, Ruslan, a father of three at the age of twenty-five, expertly held her baby. I was rushing around, trying to get something done (I vaguely remember a client with inactive TB being involved), and was startled when an elderly Sudanese woman, waiting for for an appointment with the immigration director, approached me and said, “You look wonderful. I didn’t even know you were pregnant, and would never guess that you gave birth just a few weeks ago!”
I paused, furrowed my brows, and said, “Uh…that’s because I didn’t.”
Clearly confused, the woman pressed on, “You’re not Ruslan’s wife?”
I burst out laughing, “No! Did he tell you I was!?”
Her face fell. And then filled with rage and embarrassment. As she huffed her way out of the office, the woman made an inaudible comment to the giggling, baby-cuddling Ruslan. I shook my fist at him from across the reception room.