Bamboo shadows #1 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Karel Nunnink   

Bamboo shadows

1. To bend or break.

My brother was dying, the realization of it hit me like a sharp pain, a deep ache in my chest.
The panic came after, especially in my mothers voice desperately begging my father to try again as the monsoon let loose and torrents of rain made a loud rattling sound on the metal roofing of our house.
My father had already attempted several times with no luck carrying poor Frank back into the house soaked and dripping, while my brother was shivering shifting from cold to burning up as the fevers grew worse with the infection now gripping him stronger each moment.
We had kept the young orangutan orphaned from his mother, brought to us by a worker who found him wandering aimlessly in the jungle.
Frank was especially fond of him and played with him sometimes for hours, the irony of it hit me, here Frank was slowly losing the battle with the infection that had started simply by him ignoring that cut on the bottom of his foot from a nail or something else sharp, and then stepping in the apes feces.

He never mentioned anything until the pain came in throbbing bursts, and a faint red line started inching its way up his leg.
For almost 5 days now the rains kept coming, sometimes as soft fine muggy sprinkles to the heavy downpour sounding like the heavens were dumping tiny marbles on the tin roof.
After several attempts at navigating the only dirt road,  now turned into a quicksand like mud up to 3 feet deep with the monsoon, and barely making it back, my fathers desperation grew.
He already had to abandon one of the vehicles left stranded in the thick mud, only the proper placing of planks saved his own jeep from the same fate.
And so they had returned frantically removing Franks clothing to strip off any leeches attached to his frail shaking little body.
My mothers sobs continued well into the night, as my father tried to soak my brothers foot in a tub of salty water to try to slow down and draw out the infection.
Finally exhaustion set in and everything turned quiet, my own breathing coming in short shallow gasps from the tightness around my chest as my mind was racing with the prospect of losing my best friend, yet the insistent rain rattling on the roof continued along with the soft tapping against the window panes as I finally succumbed to an exhausted slumber.
I awoke suddenly with a gasp from the tugging at my arm, the bright sunshine sweeping the room as rays were reflected of water on the windows in a splendor of tiny rainbows on the stark white wall.
My other brother Wouter was shaking me, his eyes red and tearful and as he saw me awaken started pounding his fists into the bed sobbing, no no no.
I knew then Frank had passed away, he was just over 10 years old and I was 1 month past my 5th birthday.
How ironic that Frank who was named after Franklin Roosevelt and had survived the Japanese occupation and the prison camps with Wouter, should perish in  this way.
Live long and strong.


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