Fanny stares at the little man in ill-disguised unease. Vetfaan promised her the best midwife – this must be a mistake…
“Look, Fanny, it’s no use to be frightened of me. Relax. Let me see your tummy.”
With Vetfaan standing by and holding her hand, Fanny allows Lo le Roux to examine her stomach. The small hands flutter this way and that, pressing here, squeezing there.
“Mmm. Big twins. Not going to be easy.” This, of course, does nothing to calm Fanny down. “And I feel you have small contractions. They’ll arrive tomorrow, so we’ll have to get everything ready. I’ll fetch my stuff.” He pulls the blanket back over Fanny, pats her shoulder and closes the door behind him.
“Are you sure about him, Fanie?”
Vetfaan can only shake his head. “It’s too late now…”
The Lotto people were very good to Lo and Gramps. A young man in a grey suit visited them before the payment was due. His job, he explained, was to make sure that winners of considerable sums used the money well.
“It’s best to keep it a secret,” the man advised, “otherwise you’ll be swamped by family and friends, wanting a piece of your good luck.” Gramps grunted, they have no family or friends, anyway. “Now, I see this young man will need quite a bit of cash to attend a college or university, while I’m sure you’d want to use some money to address your immediate needs.” The man allowed his gaze to travel over the peeling walls and the sparse furniture. “So I suggest that 75% of your winnings go into a solid investment – like unit trusts – and you use the rest to fix this place up.”
Geamps signed the papers, and after the man left, poured two generous portions of rum.
“You were right, Lo. We were blessed for our trust in the Lord.”
Of course, the 25% was never used on the house. Gramps’ thirst saw to that. Despite that, Lo made matric and then announced his intention to attend art school. He said he wanted to do graphic design, something Gramps had never heard of. Still, it sounded better than selling eggs for a living, so the start of the acedemic year found the two of them at the bus stop in Robertson. Gramps was fidgety because the bus was late and it was way past his drinking time. Lo kissed the only parent he ever knew, and wished him well.
Art school turned out to be so much more than Lo expected. Not only was his drawings of a very high standard, but he got interested in moulding. Casting moulds was part of the curriculum, and he had to produce a mould and a cast as part of his final examination. Having experimented during the year with colours and various epoxies and resins, he produced a rather life-like hen and egg, which he presented on a nest of twigs and feathers. It was so different to what the other students produced, that he got an A+ and an invitation to see the head of the school.
“You’ve surprised all of us, Le Roux. I’m impressed.” The handshake was genuine, the smile proud. “Now we’ve had a strange request from the medical school. They need pelvises. You think you can do that?”
Lo didn’t have a clue. “Pelvises, sir?”
It seemed that the university used artificial pelvises and dolls to recreate various problems associated with childbirth. The lie of the baby, the shape of the pelvis and the situation with multiple pregnancies could then be demonstrated to the class in order to prepare the future doctors for their task. Lo had to study the anatomy, learn everything about the body structure, and then cast life-sized models of the real thing. It wasn’t easy, but a month later he delivered the first prototype. The university was impressed and funded the whole project. Soon other universities started ordering these models, still known as The Lorenzo Pelvis to this day.
Although Lo now had a lucrative business, the fact that he was only working with inanimate models started preying on his mind. What would it be like to be involved with real births? And so, a year later, Lo enrolled as a student nurse at the teaching hospital associated with the university. By now he was quite well known, and despite his awkward appearance, accepted for the brilliant student he turned out to be. Four years later he was eligible to begin the course in midwifery.
Fanny wakes up with a start. It’s been a cold night in the Kalahari, and she’d put on extra blankets – yet now she’s shivering. Her probing hand finds the sheets and mattress soaked.
“Fanie! Fanie! My water broke!”
“Put a cork in it,” he mumbles, still half asleep. Then realisation dawns. “What? Oh my goodness! You sure?”
“No, you idiot, the bed wet itself!” A tinge of panic edges her words. “And…” She’s at the point of telling him to get a towel when the first contraction makes her pause. “Go get that strange little man. Now!”
The worried frown on Lo le Roux’s forehead deepens as he palpates Franny’s large belly.
“I feel a head and some buttocks up here.” he points to her upper abdomen. “That’s not good.”
Vetfaan doesn’t understand and says so.
“It means the one baby is correctly positioned for a normal birth. The other is the wrong side up, or a breech presentation.”
It’s Greek to Vetfaan, but Fanny gets it. “Can you turn him?”
“Not really, not at this late stage, I’m afraid. It’s difficult to say which one is first in line. The head-first baby should be allright, but the other one…”
Her contractions are speeding up, the interval shortening. Vetfaan watches anxiously as Lo gets to work, getting the towels ready, the basins filled with warm water and setting out an array of clamps, scissors and even stitches. He doesn’t even want to guess – despite everything he had read up over the last few months, nothing could have prepared him for this. And now, with a breech presentation added to the mix, he is angry at himself. They should not have tried this at home. Never. It was so stupid even to think about it.
By this time, the news has spread and Kleinpiet is the first to arrive.
“Get Gertruida, Kleinpiet. Get her now!”
As he closes the door behind his friend, he hears the first scream…
Tempo Perdido = Lost Time…
Our sacred sweat
Is way more beautiful
Than this bitter blood
And so serious
And wild! Wild!
See the Sun
In such a gray morning
The storm that comes
Has the color of your eyes
So hold me tight
And tell me once more
That we’re already
Far away from everything
We have our own time
We have our own time
We have our own time…
I’m not afraid of the dark
But leave the lights
On for now
What was hidden
Is what hid itself
And what was promised