bonds

Their mother was away, doing business in the next province. Her younger brother had been left with her and her husband. He cried and cried; in part because at ten months old he could sense that he was far away from the warm body of his origin, in part because his belly was distended from an ailment for which I do not know the translation.

Back then, our belief was not yet tainted by modern science, and that which we have been taught to call supernatural quackery was medicine, was a way of healing.

As her brother cried, she removed his thin clothes, rubbed a thin layer of camphor oil over his belly, sang a chant as she made scooping motions above him with a ladle. The chanting calmed him as the camphor warmed his belly, and his crying eased. After a few hours, his cries of pain transformed into cries of hunger.

She fed him from her own breast, still full with milk after the birth of his nephew.

The closeness of the family cannot be due to tradition alone. They have drunk life from the same body, and they are bonded, irrevocably, by more than DNA.