by cheri block sabraw
Four infants we were, squirming with life and looking like furry little jellybeans arranged neatly in a teeny nest. Relieved of the crushing pressure of the birth canal, I had whizzed down the chute in a precipitous dive, far away from the predictable ticking of Mother’s heart, landing on top of Amos.
I had barely rolled off his back and was trying to open my eyes to a brightness unfamiliar in my previous darkened space when sister Sadie hit me in the gut as she, too, entered the world. In a deeper divot, came Delbert.
Then, like a ball of cookie dough, I was kneaded, molded, flattened, and shaped. Something efficient and rough first addressed my shoulder, sending my damp fur left and right, up and down. Before I could say, “That feels heavenly,” this tongue and tool flipped me over and assiduously began working on my underside, urging the life forces of blood flow and energy.
Left to dry out, like a chamois, I slept.
So, here I am, a citizen of my world, awakening to its sweetness.
I like my new home, our nest. And I am coping with my three siblings. The basic health care Mother is providing in an obsessive compulsive lick is doing the trick.
But what about hamster dignity? We are, after all, on top of each other without escape from, shall I say at this juncture, our idiosyncrasies.
Amos is already fretting about his placement in a human home.
Sadie is biting her nails like a nervous Nellie.
Delbert hangs on to me in a needy clutch.
Soon, a large round human face will stare into our home and a hand the size of Texas will reach in to pluck us out, dropping us into a small box, not unlike a Chinese take-out carton.
My reverie was broken this morning when an unfamiliar sound scared the Mother’s milk right out of me.
The lights went out in the shop; Mother made a panicky chirping sound and crouched on top of our nest, shielding us from the din. Deep into the cedar chips, my collective memory opened into a kaleidoscope of ideas from previous lives.
I was a Buddhist Hamster. They called me Bodhisattva Ham. My anxious siblings didn’t exist, especially when I detached myself from their essences.
I stopped all excess and became ascetic. Only one oat per day. Life simplified.
It was good.
Now is good, too.
The future with its grandeur and potential, the past with its loss and mystery, the present with a warm blanket of soft white fur sealing us off from the noise of the room.