In two weeks time I will be revisiting some very special friends, some human some animal. I am very excited and also a bit aprehensive. It has been ten years.
I am heading to Sarawak, Borneo, to a wildlife centre where I worked ; my friends include local village and townsfolk and gibbons, crocodiles, sun bears, leopard cats and binturong to name but a few. The young children that I played with are now teenagers, the bears now roam happily in a large outdoor enclosure, some, both human and animal have died. But it is the orang utans who I am most excited about: Aman, the enormous charismatic male who I nursed through bilateral cataract surgery, Chiam and her baby Mamu, who may well be a mother now herself and diva Doris, who won over all our hearts.
But I am most excited about meeting Ting San, who we hand raised for many months and who is , I read, herself now a mother. I know no more than that: Did her baby survive? I read that it was removed from her in order to be cared for properly since, as a motherless mother, Ting San would not have learned the skills over many years alongside her mother. She was more or less attached to my hip for ten months and rarely left my side.I spent every waking hour with her, many hours feeding her, walking her into the jungle and trying to teach her to climb, what was safe to eat and - more importantly - what wasn't, but none of that can predict how she will respond to me when we next meet. She may race over and hug me, though I doubt it, or hit or bite me. She may run past with an oblique glance or she may simply ignore me. No one knows.
So, I am excited yes, but also very apprehensive. Only time will tell.