Teaser 341: I Managed to Make One of My Wives Glow, Accidentally

Three days after the premiere, the following weekend, Tanya had returned to Munich, Lena, Serena, and Jinpa lounged around Serena's mansion while I inevitably dealt with concerns, distribution issues, and media requests all revolving around the movie release and all by phone. Esperanza took the weekend off to be with everyone, and while the preliminary figures from the release were discouraging, we all tried to ignore it and enjoy our company together. Until one of my beloved arose the next morning and within minutes was in the bathroom emptying what little she had in her stomach. I wasn't waiting to see how this would turn out. “Call your gynecologist, Serena, and see if we can get Jinpa in soon, today.”

I wasn't waiting three more days. My four wives accompanied by Jacob while we stopped to pick up his colleague and I all drove to the gynecologist's office for Jinpa's exam. It didn't take long. “Jinpa is pregnant,” the gynecologist announced to all of us as we waited, Jinpa still in the examining room. “She doesn't understand, Al-Barrak. Can you speak Tibetan?”

“No, but I know someone who does.” I immediately called Chodak, who answered my call despite the unfavorable time difference on his end. I turned to the gynecologist. “Let's all go into her examining room and I'll put Chodak on speaker.”

With my three wives and the doctor, I carried the phone into the examining room while Jinpa waited very nervously. I put the phone on speaker and set it on a table near Jinpa and asked if Chodak could hear me. When his voice came through the speaker, Jinpa relaxed immediately and smiled. “Tell Jinpa, Chodak, that the doctor is going to tell you the results of her exam and you will tell her through the phone.”

I waited for Chodak to conclude his translation and Jinpa's response and asked, “Ready, Chodak?”

Through the phone came his response. “Ready.”

I turned to the gynecologist. “Tell Chodak your results and he'll translate.” She did so, Chodak translated in Tibetan through the phone, and when his voice became silent, Jinpa leaped off the exam table and smothered me.

“Is this your first?” the gynecologist asked me. This brought a huge round of laughter from all the females except the doctor and Jinpa.

I laughed. “Hardly and I'm deep in the hole on population reduction.” I leaned toward the phone. “Tell Jinpa the doctor asked if this is her first, Chodak.”

When he concluded, Jinpa shouted her response and kissed me, nearly strangling me. When she finally released me, I announced, “Chodak, tell Jinpa I now expect her devotion to me for life. Tell her her promise to me of ten years of devotion is over.” When he finished Jinpa merely beamed at me, kissed me again as roughly as before, and spoke in Tibetan to Chodak.

We waited and Chodak translated. “Jinpa said this is the happiest day of her life, Al-Barrak. You have made her a mother, as she hoped. Now you can give all your attention to your other wives for she knows what to do.”

Jinpa did know what to do and so did I. Days later the two German pilots arrived in Los Angeles from Germany, I called Brenda and Kaela to arrange their services and also called Michael as a required courtesy, and all of us besides Esperanza, who still had teaching duties, flew to India, where we could engage an obstetrician who would have a more ready access to the Tibetan language and Chodak would be far more available if need be. We never left Jalandhar and never expected to leave until Jinpa delivered the child she carried in her womb. Once it was clear to all of us, including Jinpa, she carried a boy, I now knew what the Big Chief meant when he said to me, “The sons will appreciate it.” At one time as we all sat comfortably in the living room in my half of the house, I remarked, “The Big Chief told me there would be more than one, for he used the plural, not 'the son...' but 'the sons...'” I shook my head. “Tanya once reamed me. 'I am not a baby factory. Do you understand me, Al-Barrak?' Well, of course I understand her. She's not the baby factory. I am!”

The pilots had long ago flown back to Germany, Brenda and Kaela back to Los Angeles, and all doted on the mother. Esperanza flew in during her semester break, Tanya flew in on the jet for almost the last month of Jinpa's pregnancy, and despite any discouraging news concerning Terms of Surrender, we all ignored it and focused on the newest expected arrival to the family. It was amusing to me to watch this little woman who probably didn't reach five feet in height waddle around the house holding onto the huge bulge emanating from her stomach. Jinpa always wore a smile, though. I had managed to make at least one of my beloved wives glow, and in her motherly wake she brightened all.

Sofia, especially, wanted to be with Jinpa continually and the two grew very close. Sofia would take the time, with enormous patience, to teach Jinpa not only English, but Spanish, French and German, since Sofia could conduct nearly any conversation in any of the four languages as both Lena and Tanya would often help her with German at Sofia's constant request. Jinpa, for her part, with Chodak helping when available, was teaching Sofia to speak Tibetan. As the delivery date approached I could listen to both speak together in any of five languages at will. We were all captive in a perpetual state of astonishment.

I asked Sofia, as the date drew near, if she was excited. “Of course, I'm excited, Papi! Now I get to have a brother. I love my sisters but don't we have enough, Papi?”

“Jinpa could still have a baby girl, you know.”

“Do you think the Big Chief was wrong?”

“Well, he didn't say anything about daughters...” I let it trail off as I was staring into the face of a prepubescent glaring back at me.

The week before the baby was born, the Big Chief himself arrived at our humble abode in Jalandhar, instantly welcomed into our house. Dhundup accompanied him while the driver remained in the sedan. “I cannot stay long, Al-Barrak, but I did bring you a gift for your newest expected arrival, which I will reveal to you after we conclude our discussions.”

The Big Chief wanted to share with me some of his expectations, matters we both considered would soon take place. The situation in Tibet was growing calm, much less confrontational, and this development both of us assessed to Cao, more than anyone else. He had the opportunity to meet Jinpa, and both warmly greeted the other, clasping hands and bowing to each. Our discussion concluded with his expression of disappointment in what he expected of actions of my own instigation. “It will displease me to hear the details for which you are responsible. I will consider it as I will always consider it, only one path to the sacred place and a very difficult and probably unnecessary path to take, and you will force me to express my regret publicly. When I do express my regret, it is not meant to sever anything between us unless you consider it such.”

The Big Chief paused so I remarked, “Your knowledge, your interactions, your experiences are not mine, but they do provide to you the insight which you possess, and which is not the insight which I possess. You have your considerations and responsibilities and I have mine. Whatever you are compelled to say about me and anything I may do, I will always understand your compulsion, yet it will never drive a wedge between us unless this is your wish. Your counsel and wisdom I consider immeasurable. I would regret losing my access to it permanently.”

This exchange was our last of a formal nature and the Big Chief rose, bellowing his usual enormous laugh, and we hugged and bowed to each. The Big Chief suggested we step outside to the back of the house so he could present his gift to me. Dhundup carried a canister of some sort with tiny holes and we stepped outside, once the indoor shoes were removed and the outdoor shoes donned, moved to the bridge over the pond and Dhundup handed the Big Chief the canister. All were watching from the porch as I accepted the canister and the Big Chief urged me to open the lid. I unhooked the lid, flipped it open, and a large orange butterfly fluttered from the canister and flapped and glided about the back and beyond the pond into Lena's garden. The Big Chief stated, “For your son soon to come, Al-Barrak, I could think of no finer gift than to bestow upon you a butterfly from Dharamsala, for the one who knows no butterfly would ever land on a living being.” All three of us laughed greatly and I hugged both and bowed to both.

Delivery day arrived with Jinpa forced to sit while she was immersed in the clutches of a deep and lasting contraction. Sofia was the only person with Jinpa at the time and she screamed. When we were all in the room together there wasn't much discussion. Serena stated, “We'll take her to the hospital now and bring your family, Chodak. This may take a while.”

It took a while, about seven some hours from arrival at the hospital to the actual delivery. There were no drugs applied. Jinpa consistently refused, gritted her teeth through each contraction and her resolve never wavered. She was cut, like Gloria, at the crucial time of delivery, but she bore her pain and suffering in the most dutiful manner, though it took some explanation from Chodak and the others to allow me into the delivery room. Jinpa still carried her expectations from years of experience in Tibet a woman delivers a child only in the company of other women. Men in the room are neither expected nor encouraged. Serena convinced her more than anyone else. “Your husband, Al-Barrak, has been present at every birth of his three children. It will greatly hurt him should you refuse him to be present for this birth, for he will be beside you every moment and provide you the comfort that you are performing very well and everything will be all right! Do not refuse him this one and only opportunity.” You can imagine I was the only male in the room, for a while, but the doctor and nurses helped ease Jinpa's anxiety.

The baby, our boy and my first, slid into the waiting hands of the doctor at seven thirty-eight in the evening, Jalandhar time, at once both a citizen of the United States and India. Because of his mother's heritage we would later secure him citizenship status in China. Jinpa and I had already decided on a name, since she demurely deferred to me, so we announced within the next twenty-four hours the arrival of William Sonnet, using my original surname. Hardly anyone in our household has ever called him William, or Sonnet, or William Sonnet, or Will even, since I christened him from the beginning, hours after his birth, “Wild Bill.” Whenever I think about my first son, from his very first days and all of his experiences since, I recall how much he has enjoyed his nickname. He never enjoyed it because of his wild nature since anyone who has spent any time in his presence would ever consider him wild. It's because he always enjoyed the irony, that so many would call him “wild” while he was the most mild, gentle, empathetic human being you might possibly ever meet. Still, to me, “Wild Bill” fits because my first-born son is the most stubborn, persistent, and determined human being I have encountered. “No,” is not an answer he will ever accept unless you can explain it to his satisfaction. Should you fail he will merely go around you, in any way he deems necessary, though he will do so in a manner which causes little destruction, frustration or aggravation. He will smile wildly at you when he accomplishes what you originally intended as beyond him. I have spent countless hours explaining various facets of the world, human and otherwise, to Wild Bill, sometimes successfully, often in futility, and have always held the utmost respect for him from a very early age. When I do consider it all I realize this one is much, much farther than I was at his age and I know I must never allow any influence which would discourage him, because his discouragement is heart-rending. He will literally spend hours alone in his room pondering. At his age I did it too. I would rather he not experience all the heart-break and disappointment I did during my formative years. Fifty years to get to a point where one can objectively analyze everything around one is postponing about forty years of worthwhile contribution.

- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-ThreeFatalities” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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