Life at the Ting estate went on happily with the addition of little Hanzi. The servant girls liked to take turns coddling him, even after their chores, and often said to Grandmother Ting how they wished their first or next born would be as sweet as Hanzi.
Kokanchi assumed the role of primary care-giver with surprising dedication. He celebrated every stage of development. "Grandmother! He holds his head up!" "Look how he rolls to his belly!" "He is growing fast! He sits on his own!" "Grandmother! See how fiercely he kicks! Soon he will crawl." Kokanchi was seldom far from Hanzi.
Grandmother Ting smiled and watched it all with an observant eye. As close as Kokanchi was to Hanzi, the man was blind to some things.
One day, Ting took Koka aside. It was rare for the two of them to be alone, but she had convinced Koka to leave Hanzi with Meilin, one of the serving girls that Hanzi seemed partial to. Together, Ting and Kokanchi strolled the garden. It was a glorious day, warm without being hot, and all the colors of nature were especially vivid this time of year.
They had been chatting a short while of inconsequential matters. Finally Grandmother said, "Hanzi remains healthy."
"Oh yes," Koka beamed. "He is strong as an oxen!"
"Does it not seem strange to you?"
Koka looked at her in confusion. "Does what seem strange, Grandmother?"
By now they had arrived at the wooden arched bridge that spanned the distance of the koi pond. The pond was still and quiet. There had been no fish in it for three months. Grandmother stopped at the apex of the bridge and looked into the water.
"Babies get sick, Koka," she remarked.
Kokanchi frowned as he tried to reason why Hanzi's good health was a point of concern. "So," he began tentatively, "you are worried that...he is well?"
Ting smiled ruefully and shook her head, looking at Kokanchi now. "No, Koka. It is only..." Her gaze, still very clear and bright for her advanced years, turned once more to the empty water. She wasn't sure Koka could believe her, even if she told him. "It is only that I am a silly old woman jumping at shadows."
Kokanchi looked ready to protest, and still confused, but she pat his arm then took it as she turned them back to the house. "Come, Koka. Tell me again about the time you almost lost him at the market."
Kokanchi flushed with embarrassment. "Grandmother, I didn't lose him! I only turned away for a second...."