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"Mama-chama"
By Louise Babyshampoo

Part One - Mama-chama

      A woman in her late twenties sat facing a window, gazing out side dreamily. Her face was beautiful in spite of the lack of make up. Her shiny black hair was tied on her nape neatly with a white delicate ribbon. Her thin hand caressed her swollen belly occasionally, smiling to herself when she felt the baby inside her kicking.
      "Honey..." she whispered as if the baby could hear her voice. "Mama is thinking, so please stop kicking..." The baby kicked her again and she giggled gleefully to herself, feeling more alive than ever. She was certain her baby would be a very healthy baby girl... at least that was what her doctor told her.
      "Wow, you really have some temper, don't you?" she said once more to the empty room, laughing. "I ask you again... don't kick, pretty please?"
      There was no response from 'inside'.
      "Good," she said, nodding in satisfaction.
      The woman sighed heavily, then reached for a beautifully hand-drawn postcard on the coffee table beside her. It was from her husband. She read the familiar hand writing carefully, afraid of missing even one word.
      Dear Nami,
          I'm sorry, but I think I couldn't make it home by April, so I think you have to do it by yourself. I have to stay longer in America to finish my job. Hope it's okay. There's no complication so far, right? It's not your first time, anyway. I pray for you and our baby. Always.

     Love you,
          Aoi

     PS. How is my little Fire doing? Is his temper going worse? Please give my kisses to him...

     Nami set the postcard aside and sighed to herself. "Yeah, sure you won't, Aoi. You've always been away from home, leaving me alone here, in the middle of a jungle." She continued her daydreaming and smiled sweetly, added, "A princess who is left behind by her prince."
      Ah, not really. She had another prince here. A little prince, indeed.
      She snapped her head up when she heard the door behind her cracked and a cute, small voice called out, "Mama!"
      Nami turned around. Her face lit up almost immediately when she saw her three-year-old son standing there, partly hidden by the door. "Ryo-chan," she nodded slightly, grinning. "How's my little prince? Are you a good boy today?"
      "Mama!!"
      The toddler held his arms out and trotted to his mother's side while she stood up carefully and approached him, holding out her hands as well. "Ooouch!" Nami lifted her son in her arms, hugging him warmly as he squealed happily. "You're getting really really heavy! Did you eat your whole lunch?"
      Ryo nodded vigorously. "Uh-huh!!"
      "Drink your milk?"
      The little boy nodded one more time.
      Nami held her son in a distance, slightly frowning, "Really?" She knew her son did not like milk very much. He tended to run around when she asked him to finish his bottle until she caught him and ordered him to.
      "Don't worry, Nami-chan. I made sure he ate all his lunch," a very familiar voice said from the door's direction, chuckling softly.
      Nami put her son down and exclaimed happily at the sight of her twin sister. "Junko! I didn't hear you come!"
      A woman in a pleated creamy coloured skirt with long, wavy black hair emerged from behind the door, smiling slightly. She was a spitting image of Nami, except for her wavy hair. "Well, you gave me the spare key of your front door, right?" she said, a set of keys dangling from her fingers, "Anyway, you can trust me with him," she added.
      "Thank you," said Nami, ruffling little Ryo's wild black hair. "And sorry to trouble you. I couldn't pick him up at school nowadays, due to my condition, but wait for one more month and..."
      "No no no!" Junko cut her short, shaking her forefinger in front of Nami's face. "It's nothing, really. Besides, Ryo-chan is a very sweet little boy."
      Nami's face beamed with pride as she stroke his son's plump cheek affectionately. "Is he?"
      Her twin sister nodded, pulling a chair and sit down beside her. Her face seemed to be full of concerns. "Nami..." she started, "there's something I want to ask you since a very long time ago. What do you say about moving to Central Tokyo?"
      "I'm not interested," she replied calmly, giving Ryo a shiny red ball with a kanji written inside it to amuse him. She smiled in amusement when Ryo's face lit up when he touched the ball and rolled it slowly on the floor. He always liked the ball so much. May be she would give it to him when he was older. It was always with her family, so it was kind of a family inheritance. It was handed from generation to generation, to the eldest in the family, male or female.
      Junko sighed. Her sister had always been very stubborn. "Why?"
      "Because this is the place where Aoi would come home after his long trips. I have to be here to welcome him, always." She looked deeply into Junko's eyes and added, "That's what I promised him when I married him."
      "Oh, Nami... what about the baby? You know that the hospital is so far away from here. The doctor couldn't come straight away if you need him immediately! Besides, Ryo-chan would be..." Junko let out her protests, only to be silenced by Nami's next words.
      "I know there is no good school here. This is the outskirts of the city. Of course schools are far away from here. I'm thinking of moving to Tokyo, but I won't consider it for the time being." She shifted her eyes from Ryo to her friend, looking at her sharply. "Besides, the baby won't come until a half and one month. Ne?" She winked at Junko and added in a more cheerful tone. "I promise I'll stay in the hospital a week before the baby comes. How 'bout that? Junko?"
      Junko gritted her teeth and slumped her self on the chair. "Ano BAKA!" she yelled, causing Ryo to discard the red ball and cower in fear behind his mother. "He should be more considerate!! Going abroad at a time like THIS! Who does he think you are? His possession? Does he even love you?"
      "Junko, that's enough!" Nami said in a dangerously low tone, causing her sister to flinch. "You have no right to say things about my husband. Besides," she turned around to pull Ryo and sit him on her lap, smiling, "you'll scare my little babies, both of them. However..." She looked to her left and stared at the family picture that was taken almost a year ago. She and Aoi looked very happy there with little Ryo between them, pouting. He always hated wearing bow ties.
      "Thank you... no one has ever cared for my family like that. I really appreciate that. Believe me, I love my husband very much and so does he. I..." she looked back to Junko and gave her a serene smile, "am sure that he will be home, soon. It's his dream, you know, taking pictures of America's wildlife. And everyone has his own dream."
      Junko huffed in defeat and walked to the door, taking her leave. "Of course I care! I'm your only sister, anyway. Well, I guess I should get going, now," she said in a cheerful tone. "Take care, okay! And careful when you do something!!"
      Nami smiled gratefully and said to her, "I will!! Be careful when you're driving, 'kay? Sorry not to walk you out... you know your way out, right?"
      The other woman only nodded and smiled before disappearing behind the heavy wooden door.
      Nami turned her attention back to her little boy, laughing cheerfully. "Now, what should we play this time?"
      "Prince and Princess!!" Ryo shouted at the top of his lungs, leaping as high as he could in the air.
      "Princess?" Nami was frowning slightly, pointing at herself, "But Mama is Mama, honey... I'm not Hime-sama, ne?" Waitaminute... she thought to herself. Her face brightened when something popped out of her mind. "What about calling me Mama-chama instead of Hime? And I'll call you Ryo-chama instead of Ooji-sama!"
      "Waaaaiiiii!!" Ryo shouted, hopping up and down, "Ryo-chama will rescue Mama-chama!!"
      "Ryo-chama... please save Mama!!" said Nami, mimicking the voice actress of Ryo's favourite cartoon film, acting as if she was really afraid.
      "Hyaaaaaa...!!" Little Ryo lunged forward to kill an imaginary dragon. "Go away, Dragon-san!!"
      Nami giggled happily in spite of a little sadness that she felt earlier. It was okay if her husband chose to stay abroad longer... as long as she had her little Ryo...

      "Mama-chama?" The black haired toddler squirmed in his bed, clearly looking uneasy.
      Nami, knitting baby clothes, sitting on her rocking chair beside Ryo's bed, turned her attention to her eldest son and asked gently, "What is it, Ryo-chama?"
      "I couldn't sleep," he said curtly, slightly pouting. He seemed like he was ready to cry anytime.
      Nami sighed and left the comfort of her rocking chair, shifting her heavy body carefully to Ryo's bed. "Tell mama, dear. Having a bad dream?" Her finger wiped away a trace of tears that was brimming Ryo's dark round eyes.
      Ryo gulped an air and nodded. "Not really," he had told his mother. "But I'm scared. Everytime I close my eyes, I see Mama-chama leaving me alone. Not come back 'nymore..." Then he sniffed and sobbed, rubbed his eyes with his chubby hands.
      Nami had difficulties to speak. She was at loss for words. The woman glanced at the cute teddy bear clock on the bedside table. Nine PM. It was eight o'clock when she ushered him to his bedroom and she was with him all the time. She looked around the nursery and she found nothing wrong. Everything was just the same as the nights before. She even switched on the little light, something that she rarely did. He supposed to be used to sleeping in total darkness.
      She lowered her body awkwardly and whispered to her son's little ear, "Ryo, do you want mama to switch on the big light?"
      Ryo shook his head, still rubbing his eyes. Nami took his hands away and wiped his tears with tissue paper. She helped her son up and propped a few pillows behind his back to support his body. "Now," she started, thinking of what she should say to Ryo, "where am I?"
      "With me?" Ryo's mind worked quickly. He was a smart boy, after all.
      "If I'm with you, how could I go and leave you alone?"
      Ryo nodded thoughtfully, but suddenly something popped out of his mind. "But you said you would be gone to the hospital if the baby's comin'." Then he eyed his mother innocently, waiting for answers.
      Oh. She forgot about that.
      "Ryo-chan," Nami shifted her body closer to Ryo, "I won't leave you. Never ever! And besides, I'll be gone to the hospital only for one week. You needn't worry so much, honey." She closed the distance between them and touched Ryo's forehead with her own forehead. "Ne, Ryo-chama? You're my prince, anyway. How could a princess leave her prince alone?" Then she withdrew from her son and smiled gently. "Ne?"
      Ryo's smile grew bigger as he nodded enthusiastically. He lowered his body and buried himself under the thick cover, closing his eyes slowly in the process.
      "Mama-chama, oyasumi."
      "Oyasumi, Ryo-chama," replied her as she stroked her son's hair. She watched him until she was sure that he slept soundly, then shifted back to her rocking chair.
      Then she winced.
      The baby kicked one more time.
      What was exactly happening to her? It was not even the ninth month of her pregnancy. It happened a lot lately. She did not tell Junko because she did not want to make her worry.
      Deep inside her, she was really afraid. She wished her husband was there, beside her. She wished she did not have to go through all of that alone. The experience of pain... everything...
      Her heart screamed.
      Aoi, please come back...!!

      It was Sunday and she had not been feeling well since morning. Ryo had not been easy, whining and wailing all the time, complaining about things in his own nasty ways. She had tried to deal with him in many ways, from chiding him to talking softly to him, but none of them worked well. By the time she could calm him, she was really, really exhausted.
      Ryo was sleeping quietly in his room downstairs, thank God. She could use a rest, then.
      She wondered if Aoi could make it home before his daughter was born. Well, he did write about him not coming home soon, but he always did unexpected things. Three years ago, when it was almost Ryo's time, he also said that he could not come home, but he did come at the end. He was always full of surprises. May be it was the same as last time.
      Ouch!
      Nami winced and clutched her stomach. The baby kicked her again. She relaxed when the pain subdued, but worries just would not stop gnawing her heart. It was like that since morning. Could it be...? Nami's eyebrows met as she felt another kick. Her hand quickly reached for the cordless phone beside her. It was time already.
      She was just about to call Junko when she heard a loud thud, followed by her son's wail from his room. She discarded the phone immediately, running downstairs as quick as possible, moving her awkward body. Unfortunately, she did not see one of Ryo's toys laying there and tripped on it, losing her balance completely.
      She fell down.

      A handsome young man in his early thirties whistled happily as he hopped off a taxi and paid the taxi driver. His clear blue eyes shone with anticipation as he opened the front gate of the Sanada's residence. He walked impatiently to the front door, grinning ear to ear, as he imagined how happy his wife would be upon his arrival.
      Sanada Aoi.
      He was Sanada Aoi.
      He was a wildlife photographer, therefore he travelled a lot. He even sometimes went abroad to capture the natural wildlife in other countries. Actually he did not like the idea of leaving his pregnant wife alone at home, but it was his job, so he could do nothing. It was the only way to feed his expanding family. Besides, Nami was very understanding. She never complained about him going out a lot. She was a very kind and trustful person. Lucky he could finish the job soon that he could go back to Japan before his daughter was born. He did not want to miss her being born. The idea of having a daughter thrilled Aoi very much.
      Aoi cleared his throat and set his best smile, pressing the door's bell impatiently. A few minutes passed, but there was no answer from inside. He frowned, then he tried again one more time. There was still no answer. He was getting very worried and impatient, so he reached for his own keys inside his bag and opened the door quietly. Lucky he always had his spare keys with him, wherever he went.
      He stepped inside and switched on the main light, looked around him cautiously. Nami and Ryo were not seen everywhere, causing him to worry even more.
      "Nami? Ryo?" he called out his wife and his son in a low voice.
      There was no answer.
      Then, he heard a painful scream.

      Nami ignored the pain that ripped through her belly and ran to her son's nursery. Her crystal blue eyes widened when she saw Ryo sat on the floor, blood all over his face and clothes. She could smell the blood, sending a nauseating feeling over her. She ran to her son's side, holding him carefully as she scanned the whole room with her careful eyes.
      "What were you doing, Ryo?!" she questioned him, half scolding him.
      The little boy sobbed quietly and pointed at a shiny red ball on top of a tall cabinet. Her kanji ball. So he tried to get it without asking for her help. Nami sighed as the blood smeared on her hand as she touched the wound on Ryo's head accidentally. The boy flinched in pain, but he did not dare to cry anymore. He only sobbed quietly and buried his head deeper in his mother's breasts as Nami tried to stop his bleeding unsuccessfully.
      Nami almost cried in desperation. She had to find a way to stop the bleeding! There was blood everywhere on the floor. She had tried pressing a soft cloth on the wound, but her strength was just not enough to stop it. She had to call Junko and asked her to drive them to the nearest hospital. She tied the cloth tightly around Ryo's wound, trying not to hurt him badly, then warned her son sternly, "Ryo, mama is going to make a phone call. You stay here and don't move!! Okay?"
      He sniffed and nodded quietly. Good, he understood.
      She was just about to walk out of the nursery when she felt a soaring pain ripped off her body, making her scream in agony. Then... she realized something. It was not Ryo's blood which was pooling on the floor. It was her own blood. She fell to her knees, unable to walk, tears flooding her eyes.
      My baby... Aoi, help!!


      Japanese words :

      Hime-sama : princess
      Ooji-sama : prince
      Arigatou : Thank you
      Gomen : sorry
      Ano Baka : that idiot
      -chama : corruption form of -san, which can mean Mr, Mrs, Miss. I don't really know how to explain this one, but Japanese also use this to show their respect to other people (I think :P)