Ascendance of a Bookworm - Volume 7, Chapter 1: Looking After Baby Kamil
Volume 7, Chapter 1: Looking After Baby Kamil
This chapter is updated by Unboxbee.com
Today was my first day as Kamil’s older sister. This was surely a life-changing event. I had made the resolve to act more like an older sister but sleep, my biggest enemy, was winning over me. Mum had gone into labour at dawn and Kamil was only birthed slightly before the third bell. I had gotten sleepy after lunch because of all the running around I did in the morning.
No, stop! I can’t fall asleep now! I need to help Mum do the dishes and the other chores. Let me help out with some work until Dad or Tuuli comes back from the celebration to help out with the rest.
I was doing my best to fight against the sleep but Mum patted on the spot next to her.
“Myne, come and sleep if you want to.”
“No, I won’t. I’ll stay awake until Dad or Tuuli comes back. I need to act more like a capable sister that can look after Kamil,” I responded to Mum.
I didn’t feel like napping because Kamil was finally here. Though I had only carried him once, my feelings to look after him were strong. Mum gave an awkward smile to my little protest.
“I’m glad you feel that way but I’m worried that you will fall sick. Rest if you feel tired, alright?” she replied and I gave a disappointed nod.
Mum was exhausted after giving birth, I needed to stop creating more worries for her. After washing the dishes, I took off my shoes and got up on the bed. I made sure to stay closer to the edge so I wouldn’t squish Kamil. I flipped over to look at his sleeping face.
Your sister will start doing her work tomorrow, alright?”
It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep. I vaguely felt Mum cover me with the blanket and stroke my head, I didn’t know what happened after that. Later, in the midst of my deep sleep, I was awoken by a high-pitch crying that sounded like a meowing cat. My sleep had been cut short, and I was annoyed at being awoken.
Shut it… I want to sleep, I thought to myself and tugged onto the blanket to cover my head, but the crying just grew louder when I did that
…Argh! Who is crying next to me?! Huh, oh! Kamil!
I flung open my eyelids and Mum was in front of me with Kamil in her arms, it seems she was going to breastfeed Kamil now.
She noticed me and smiled, “You slept well, love. The fifth bell is about to ring.”
Though I had slept for a while, I was still feeling quite sleepy. After rubbing my eyes, I turned to look at Kamil. The small chub was doing his best to drink the milk. His scrunched face and dazed look, along with that tiny clenched fist was so cute.
“I’m home. Is Kamil awake?”
“Hey, Tuuli. Yup, he is drinking his milk now,” I shouted across the door towards Tuuli who just returned from the celebration.
She poked her head in and walked to the bedside, she looked at Kamil and commented a “He’s so tiny.”
“Both you and Myne were once this small too,” Mum gave a nostalgic smile.
I was at a loss of words because I didn’t know how to respond to that. It was not like I could remember that. Just then, Kamil moved his head to the side and he let out a small burp when Mum patted his back.
“Myne, you were so slow and clumsy when drinking milk, you always had milk all over your mouth. And after drinking some, you would sometimes puke it out,” Mum reminisced with a smile as she looked at me. She was pretty much saying that I was a troublesome one since birth, and I gave an annoyed face.
“I couldn’t do anything about that. I was only a baby then.”
“Actually…” Tuuli spoke, “You’re still just as slow when it comes to eating, and you always complain about stomach aches whenever you eat too much. Nothing has changed, really.”
“Tuuli, you’re so mean.”
“Oh, she’s right though,” Mum supported Tuuli.
Now that she had started this, I wasn’t going to back down now. Thinking about it, the bread from here that we usually ate was too hard. I always struggled to chew into it, so I had to soak it in my soup or some sort of liquid first. It wasn’t my fault that the bread took that much time to soften. I was slow because the bread was that hard. It’s not my fault.
“Why is it the bread’s fault when you’re the only one who is slow, Myne? You’re slow because you always wait for it to get soggy in your soup.”
“I do that because it’s too hard to eat!”
In fact, it was even harder for me to chew the bread at home now that I was used to eating the soft bread in the temple. Once again, I was having a new experience eating the cement-like bread again.
Mum watched me and Tuuli incessant debate before turning us away with a troubled smile.
“I think it’s time for me to change Kamil’s nappies…”
“Oh, let me try! I want to do it!”
Tuuli’s eyes lit up with excitement and moved in to help change his diaper. I just sat on the side and watched on, I wanted to watch and learn so that I could do my best as his older sister and help out too. Tuuli slowly took off the cloth on his bottom and used the clear part to wipe his bottom. After that she wrapped him in a clean cloth.
Tuuli gave a relieved sigh and yelled a “Done!” with a smile. She finished the task swiftly, making it seem really easy.
Maybe I’ll try it out next time too.
Tuuli bundled up the dirtied cloth and threw it into a basket before looking out the window into the horizon.
“Hey Mum… Was that the last diaper left? The sun is pretty much gone but if we don’t wash them now they might get wet in the rain later.”
“Oh, yes. We should wash them now. Could you help me out? Gunther helped me tie up some rope in the kitchen to hang the diapers dry. They are quite high up so we might need him to help out.”
While Mum and Tuuli busied themselves, I just sat by the window and leaned my head against the panel. There were some clouds hanging around, but the sky was pretty much clear. I couldn’t tell that if there was going to be an overcast, everything seemed normal like usual.
“…How do you both know that it’s going to rain soon?”
“It’s weirder that you can’t, Myne. If we can’t read the weather, then we can’t tell when it’s safe to enter the forest. Moving on from that, we need to wash the clothes now! Come on, Myne.” Tuuli tugged me towards the door.
A sudden realisation struck me. Sir Damuel told me not to leave the house… I did think that it was fine for me to go to the well earlier that day, but I remembered him berating me that me leaving the house might put those around me in danger. Furthermore, with the sudden death guildmaster of the Ink Guild and the attack on Spring Prayer, I shouldn’t risk leaving the house now.
Tuuli probably remembered this too because she was there was Damuel warned me, and I watched her shoulders drop in disappointment.
“I don’t think it’s wise to ignore a noble’s warning, right? Well then, I’ll just do the laundry myself. You can help out with dinner instead, Myne. Since Dad and I ate quite a fair amount during the celebration, and the neighbours gave us some vegetables and meat, you can just cook some soup.”
I looked at the ingredients that I was going to use to make the soup, and recalled that I only had some soup and bread for lunch. I stroked my stomach and said, “I am kind of hungry. I only had some for lunch after all. I haven’t ate the meat gifted from the temple, plus we need to make sure Mum eats well so she can make lots of milk for Kamil…”
I was basically hinting that I wanted to eat meat. Tuuli pointed to the pantry and told me I could cook the bird meat.
“Well then, I only need to marinate it with some salt and herbs, right?”
Tuuli shook her head in response.
“There are some herbs that post-natal women can’t eat. You only need to use the salt.”
To be honest, I preferred eating meat with herbs to salted meat. I was quite sad about it, but Mum took priority first.
“…Well since herbs can’t be used, I can try swapping it out with some of Dad’s wine,” I spoke to myself.
I walked into the pantry we used to store food for the winter to search for the meat, after that I took Dad’s wine down from the shelf. Everytime I tried to use his wine for cooking, he would lose his mind and try to stop me. He would say that my food tasted delicious even without the wine, but I knew that was just an excuse to keep the wine to himself.
…No matter what Dad says, I’m gonna use the wine!
Meat tasted drastically different with and without wine. While waiting for the meat to be marinated in wine and salt, I proceeded to chop the vegetables. I wasn’t comfortable in handling the vegetables with poisonous parts, but at least I could tell the difference between the safe and dangerous ones.
“…Huh? Is it me, or have I gotten worse because I’ve been stuck in the temple for so long?!” I cried out.
I struggled to cut the vegetables evenly after living the life of a well-off girl in the temple for so many months. In fact, my hands trembled just from gripping onto the knife.
“Argh, this is the worst. I was bad enough at doing chores before, and I’ve gotten worse now. I seriously need to start doing chores everyday again,” I mumbled to myself, disappointed at my poor skills while continuing to slowly cut the vegetables without nipping my fingers.
“Oh, it’s fargel. It will taste better when cooked with butter rather than boiling them in the soup.
Fargel meat looked like white asparagus on the outside, but it tasted like corn kennels. It tasted just like spring and was delicious when cooked with butter, soup or cream.
“I’m home!” Dad announced with so much joy and stumbled in drunk. Tuuli was right behind him with the clean laundry in hand.
“Dad, help hang these up. We’ll work on supper instead,” Tuuli passed the cleaned diapers to Dad and returned the empty basket back to the storeroom.
Dad hung out the diapers onto the strings tied up high in the kitchen. I didn’t feel comfortable with him doing that while I was cooking, but I couldn’t help it because Kamil needed clean diapers.
“If the sun was out right now, we could hang them outside.”
“Yeah, the rain is so annoying. It’s hard to dry these out when it rains.”
Frankly, it was disturbing to have diapers hanging up in the room. I wasn’t used to this, seeing them now really made me appreciate how convenient disposable diapers were. Moreover, these weren’t the white and new diapers I saw as Urano, these diapers were made from rags sewed together and strips of worn out cloth. The only good things about them was that they had softened because they were washed lots of times before.
I wanted to search for something more hygienic, but we didn’t have much of a choice right now. And I could predict them saying that they didn’t need new cloth for diapers that would be dirtied frequently.
“How is it, Myne?”
“I tried to cut as much of the vegetables as possible. It’s probably the end of the season for fargels because they’re getting quite hard,” I lifted up the hard fargels for Tuuli to see.
“Well, it’s almost the mid of Spring. Vargels grow better during colder spring days, but I prefer warmer days. That because you can get more stuff from the forest when it’s warm.”
While Tuuli worked on the salted meat with the buttered fargels, I continued making the vegetable soup.
“Myne, you can call Mum out now,” Tuuli spoke to me.
I sneaked into the room as quietly as possible to not disturb Kamil. I saw him sleeping next to Mum. It might have been the dark room, but Mum looked really tired and frail. I didn’t want to wake her up now so I returned back to the kitchen.
“Tuuli, Mum’s sleeping…”
“It’s ok, we’ll let her sleep. Mrs Karla said that it’s important for mothers to have plenty of rest after giving birth,” Tuuli told me while preparing the table.
Apparently she was taught about these things by the midwives when helping out earlier today. Mum looked like she wouldn’t have the strength to do any work, it was our turn as family to look after her.
“You’re probably unaware about this because you weren’t around, but it was really hard on Mum. She bled a lot and it looked like she was in lots of pain,” Tuuli whispered to me and looked towards the bedroom with a worried expression.
I didn’t see this birth and neither have I seen one as Urano. Though I had read about and heard of them a couple of times, I did not come close to witnessing a real one before. I knew for sure Mum was in lots of pain, and it was not unusual for me to think that she wasn’t doing too good right now.
“We need to do our best so that Mum doesn’t need to worry about the house chores. She’s going to have a hard time recovering if she doesn’t get plenty of rest, so Myne, we’ll be counting on you too.”
That night, I once again woke up to Kamil’s crying. It was impossible to sleep through a baby’s wailing when they’re just next to you. I vaguely recall seeing Mum breastfeed him four times throughout that night. One thing for sure, I was sleep deprived. I woke up with a big migraine that day.
“You’ll get used to the crying in a couple of days,” Mum gave a weak smile and comforted me by stroking my head.
I told her that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, but I was proved wrong the next night. I had slept through the entire night without waking to the crying next to me.
“…Hm. I might be more adaptable than I thought I was.”
“You’re a carbon copy of Dad,” Tuuli shot me a glare with her droopy and sleep-deprived eyes. I looked towards Dad who was still snoring away.