Following a delicious dinner at our favorite local “hotel” (which all corrugated aluminum buildings that serve food are called), we paid a visit to our landlord, Chitman’s, pasal (shop). As I walked in the door, immediately distracted by the assortment of colored beads hanging in front of the counter, there was an amazing whirring and chirping. I looked up to see that the entire ceiling of the pasal was swarming with some sort of beautiful swallows. The cheeriya (birds) had all come inside for the night, to sleep in the rafters of the store. I thought that perhaps this was an unusual thing, but the shopkeeper pulled out large cardboard strips, with which he covered the countertops and floors prior to leaving. This was their nightly ritual…the cheeriya would come inside, the shopkeeper would put down cardboard to catch their droppings, and finally the door would be carefully locked. The birds were safely put to bed.
We asked Chitman why the swallows were there, and he told us that they were his favorite cheeriya. He also said that it was good luck to have them in his store.
After the doctors completed morning rounds the next day, one of my co-workers pointed out that no one had noticed the baby with 12 fingers and 12 toes. When I went out to see the baby, who had been in our inpatient department with mild pneumonia for a few days, it was clear why no one had initially noticed. The baby was adorable, and had the most perfectly formed, fully-functional, six-fingered and six-toed little appendages, that unless you were counting, you would never know!
As we all crowded around the little one, his mother told us that it was good luck, and that the little boy would bring many blessings to their lives. I hope that she is right, and that the little boy overcomes his pneumonia and grows to be a strong man. In this land of high maternal and infant mortality, that would truly be a blessing.