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Alligators in Bangkok MAG
On a warm July night, I turned seven. To celebrate this special occasion, my grandparents treated me to a birthday dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant. When we got home, we found my parents waiting with a chocolate cake. I made a wish and blew out the candles before I turned to the pile of presents sitting on the couch. A huge box caught my attention.
“Happy Birthday, from Grandpa” was written on top. I tore the wrapping paper away and opened the box. My grandfather had given me a big, old, stuffed alligator that stood on its hind legs and was half my size. Because I was hoping for a Tigger doll, I was a little disappointed. I tried to hide my feelings, but I could never hide anything from Gramps. “Come here,” he said, patting his lap. “I’m going to tell you a bedtime story, okay?” I nodded as he carried me and the alligator to my room. “Okay, Gramps.”
Gramps put on his serious face and in a deep quiet voice, began. “One day, many years before you were born, it started to rain and rain in Thailand. The rain kept coming down and it finally filled up all the rivers in the north. There was a big flood – the biggest in Thailand in over 50 years! But the rain still did not stop. It rained and rained, and the northern rivers flowed south with the flood waters. All the places those rivers passed started to flood, too. Of course, the government got worried because those rivers passed right through Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, where the King and Queen lived. The government tried everything they could to keep the flood waters out of Bangkok. Even the King tried to help. But nothing worked and the rain kept falling.
“In the path of those raging rivers, about 100 miles north of Bangkok, was a very, very big lake. In this lake, there were lots and lots of big, scary alligators … like this one!” Gramps held up my stuffed alligator and we laughed.
“Anyway, the flood was still headed toward Bangkok and nobody could stop it. A few days later, it passed through that big lake and the force of the flood took the alligators on a wild ride straight to Bangkok. Almost everyone evacuated. The flood hit Bangkok, destroying homes and businesses.
Soon, all anyone could see were the rooftops sticking out above the water … and it was still raining!” I stared at Grandpa with wide eyes. “So, what happened?” “Well, after a few weeks, it finally stopped raining. The sun came out. Very slowly, the water began to dry up. Eventually, the people returned to their homes, only to get the shock of their lives. There were big, scary alligators everywhere! They were in the street, in houses, on top of cars and even lying on the steps of the royal palace! The people were shocked and scared. There were alligators all over Bangkok! Finally, the government came up with a plan to return them to their homes. They called for brave, strong young men to help get rid of alligators. Each was armed with a thick, long rope and went around tying up the alligators and dragging them into big trucks that would drive the alligators home. Would you believe your old gramps was one of those men?”
“Really, Gramps? Weren’t you scared?”
“Of course not! I got my ropes, threw them over my shoulder and went alligator hunting! Almost immediately, I found a beautiful young woman desperately in need of my help. There was a fat, old alligator lying on the steps of her house. So I told her to stand out of the way. Somehow, I got my rope around the alligator’s jaws and tied it tight. You see this scar on my arm? I guess I didn’t tie it tight enough. The thing broke the rope and took a bite out of my arm. But I didn’t let a little blood stop me! No, sir. This time, I came at the alligator from behind. I stepped on his back so he couldn’t move and got the rope around his jaws again. This time, I made sure it was really tight so he couldn’t bite me again. I dragged the alligator to the truck and threw him in. My job was finished.”
“Wait, what about your arm?”
“Oh, my arm. That’s right, I was bleeding. Well, I went back to the house to make sure there were no more alligators. The coast was clear. The young lady saw my arm and cried out; I was dripping blood. I told her it was nothing, but she ordered me into her house and told me to lie down while she sewed up my arm. I needed 13 stitches. Lucky for me, she was a nurse and knew what she was doing. When she finished and I was as good as new, she thanked me for getting rid of the alligator and invited me to have dinner with her.”
“Oh, Gramps. You made that part up, didn’t you?”
“Made it up? No, no, no! It’s all true … just ask your grandmother.” “Why would Grandma know?” Gramps laughed and winked at me. “Do you know who that lady was? She’s sitting in the kitchen with your mom and dad.” He laughed at my shocked expression. “How do you think I met your grandmother?”
“Yep. And do you know what day it was when I saved your grandmother from the alligator? It was right on your birthday! I gave this alligator to her on our first date, as a momento of the time we met.”
“Wow, that’s neat, Grandpa. Thank you for the alligator and the story.” I gave him a kiss and reached for my alligator and pulled down under the covers with me.
Gramps smiled as tucked both of us in and kissed me good night.
Now, years later, the alligator still sits on my dresser, watching over me just as my grandfather always did.