Animal Farm

I was supposed to go home to the Outpost on Monday.

But I didn’t. Because Hat was too ill.

I awoke in the middle of the night on Sunday to a plaintive little voice by my ear:

Mummy, I feel horrid, my head is so sore.

It must have been; it was very hot.

By 8am we were in the clinic in town repeating blood tests for the fourth time in as many days. The kindly Indian doctor whom we saw decided to treat her for malaria despite no evidence of parasites on slides – ‘we cannot afford to take a risk’, he said, and typhoid, presumably for the same reason: no point in taking risks. Hat, chalk white with big black circles under her eyes, began to throw up into a plastic shopping bag.

The rest of my day was spent monitoring and coaxing sips of water into her. If she doesn’t drink, said the doctor, we’ll have to admit her and put up a drip. Hat’s seen the inside of the local hospital enough times to know she’s not especially keen on a sleepover. She drank.

By Tuesday, though, she was much better. Head less sore. Pallor less ghostly.

By Wednesday one of the flock of sheep owned by the generous friends who have tolerated our presence in their lovely home for almost two weeks obliged by producing a lamb. Whilst his mother was out grazing, Hat stepped in as nanny. The lamb, which she has named Rug, took to his day time charge with alacrity and skipped around the garden behind her. When he grew tired, Hat scooped him up and folded him into her lap on the verandah whilst she read her book.

I didn’t like having a bad headache, she confided, but I do like looking after a lamb which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t got sick.

School, needless to say, has gone by the board for now. Partly because she’s been so unwell. But also because I cannot force her nose to books and long division when there are lessons in life happening a spit from where she eats her breakfast.  Speech marks and verb identification can wait whilst she absorbs something else. She, somewhat predictably, wants to take the lamb home to the Outpost.

You can’t, I tell her, at least not until it’s weaned.

It has already, she says excitedly (for surely this means it will be hers now), all over the bedroom floor and I cleaned it up – just to prove she is responsible enough to own a lamb.

Weaned, honey, I say. Not wee’d.


10 Responses to “Animal Farm”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    Oh dear, that must have been terrifying. Did they decide what was wrong with her – typhoid, malaria, or unknown? The poor girl, she is very resilient and so are you! She’s lucky to have such a wonderful mother.

    I hope that Hat makes a full recovery soon. Take care of her and yourself, and the little lamb!

  2. R. Sherman Says:

    I trust all is well with you and yours. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.


  3. lifeonaboat Says:

    Hi Mem, Hope all is well with you all. So sorry to hear Hat not well, do hope she is much much better. Thinking of you, best best wishes xxx

  4. gary Says:

    you do such an excellent job telling about your daily life. I felt the twinge of a dad who’s tended ill little ones at the start of the read and had a wistful smile by the end. Before the last line, I new where you were heading but it was worth the read anyway. Really well done and I, too, hope Hat is on the mend.

  5. piginthekitchen Says:

    I can understand why you’d not want to go to hospital, but when my boy was horribly ill I couldn’t believe how the drip helped. Fortunately you didn’t have to do it. Hat sounds such a poppet; she deserves the lamb, no?!

  6. Roberta Says:

    I can’t help but feel concern. This was posted days ago. I hope and pray that you and Hat are fine. Simply traveling.

    I love your blog and your stories. I am concerned for you.

  7. Kathleen Says:

    Hope everything is ok. Concerned about Hat. Checking every day, post when you can.

  8. lifeonaboat Says:

    Hope and pray all is ok. Hopefully you are travelling or the internet is playing up. Though we have never actually met face to face – I feel as concerned about you as I would with any friend’s daughter being ill. Just know there is a lot of support for you out here in cyber space and you have many cyber friends. x

  9. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you all. It was lovely to finally get online today and find all these kind – and such friendly – words. Back to normal – such as it is (?!) – Sunday. More then. About lizards and sunshine and long, quiet days with just the birds and the muezzin – and dear Hat – for company. After a sustained three weeks making real live conversation, my vocal chords will relish a return to the cyber kind.

  10. Mapesbury Mum Says:

    Good to see your latest update – Give Hattie the Lamb! (if its not weaned, take the mother too…..)

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