I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas
I remember my bedroom as though it was yesterday. It had what I assume are the same trappings of any twelve year old girl. The bedspread was a royal purple hue, the drapes lavender, and the carpet shaded more lilac than any other chromatic shade. Spread across the pillows was my own menagerie of stuffed animals including my enormous, three-foot tall hippopotamus that I affectionately named, Hercules.
I remember all the other girls who ever spent the night also mocked me for having a hippo as my favorite animal. Sure, it didn’t help that I was overweight and the comparisons flowed like the chocolate fountain at my sixteenth birthday. Thanks, mom & dad. Although you had no idea my “friends” could be so cruel, you had the best intentions and I could never fault you for that. How could you know they would continue to call me Hercules throughout high school? You never knew how many tears I shed. Even throughout college, the stigma haunted me.
I had few friends. I didn’t date. I buried myself in my biology and zoology courses. If humans weren’t the answer, by God, animals would be. Yes, animals don’t pre-judge. Animals don’t chastise or deride. Animals only seek the basics like food, shelter, and safety. OK, maybe also love if they’re domesticated. If you’re lucky enough for a wild animal to let you close, there’s a sacred bond that forms.
That’s where I find myself now on Christmas day. Poachers have wiped out all but one of a herd of hippopotamuses in this stretch of the Congo river and his blood now drenches my shirt. He’s also fighting against my best efforts to close his gunshot wound.
Come on, Hercules, help me to help you. If I can close your wound, you have a chance of survival. I can’t believe I just called you Hercules. I guess I haven’t processed the events of my childhood like an adult yet. Focus, Andi. In this moment, either you close his wounds or he dies. Why are my teenage years flooding my memories? Why do I suddenly doubt my abilities? Where is the rest of my team? Focus, dammit! Find the bullet, close the wound. There’s so much blood. I swear crocodiles are lining up for the all-you-can-eat buffet. Not today croco-dicks.
With that, Andi removed the bullet and her team arrived to sedate the hippopotamus enough to move him to a safer location. He’s since been relocated to a hippo sanctuary. If you’d like to adopt him or a different hippopotamus, you can adopt one here.
Inspired by A Great Big World – I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas