Pear is pregnant. It's the monsoon season and snakeheads take advantage of the flood.
|It was the third day of the monsoon rains and the snakeheads were traveling from puddle to puddle. When the gusts died down for an hour the croaking frogs almost drowned out Pear's screams... almost. |
This childbirth was going to be messy. Pear had slipped and broken her leg. No time for that. The twins were coming regardless.
It was almost the end of Buddhist Lent and First would be coming home to help. Pear would need it.
The dying typhoon lashed out, emptying its burden. The rains had swept away the bridge. The winds had toppled trees and collapsed the chicken coop. The chickens roosted on the porch while Pear screamed. The snakeheads ignored both.
It was Sunday, a traditional "wear red" day. Blood streamed from the rooster that had lost its head when the tin roof took flight. The water was boiling ready to receive it. I chopped up ginger, morning glory and carrots. I had to do something and we all had to eat and no one knew how long the twins would tarry. Pear's mother had braved the puddles when summoned to assist with the delivery, noting the scurry of the snakeheads chasing smaller fish that had invaded the flooded rice-fields.
The twins were taking their time.
Pear screamed, announcing the return of the slashing rains.
Pear's mother looked worried. The winds almost drowned her out as she whispered in my ear that the babies were breech and that she'd need help. I rushed to the neighbors. They called the veterinarian who tended to the villagers' buffaloes. He only lived a kilometer away and said he'd come immediately.
We hurried back, the neighbors pointing out a two-headed snakehead on the way. I collapsed. They dragged me to the porch as the downpour had returned.
When I returned to consciousness the neighbors laughed and told me that they were going to name the twins Phaya Nak and Nakkharat after the guardians of the mighty Mekong. I almost fainted again. They helped me to the couch and told me not to get in the way.
The twins arrived without my help.
When First came home later that week he wanted to see the twins at once. He told me that they both looked happy as each one suckled on their own teat. One for each. First kept smiling, thrilled to have two baby brothers.
Pear was fine too. The broken leg had been set and although she'd be bed-ridden for 6 weeks she was no longer screaming. Her mother sat beside her spooning fish, rice and broth. Snakehead was her favorite.
In a few weeks we would all go into Ubon to have the twins evaluated. The veterinarian had assured us that the birthing had gone well and that they weren't in any danger and that two heads were better than one. He chuckled. I sighed.
The rains had finally stopped. The snakeheads had returned to the drying up puddles. My nightmare of conjoined twins were now forgotten.
Word count: 500