By Margo Wayman
Mama and Papa hippo were so excited. Their baby was due very soon. They spent much of their day gathering branches and leaves, and laying them down in the dirt for their babys bed.
One day they were out picking up some palm leaves when Mama hippo suddenly felt very tired. Papa hippo said, Why dont you go and take a nap. Ill finish gathering the leaves, then I think I will take a little swim.
Mama thought that sounded like a good idea, so she went home. After Papa finished his afternoon swim, he too headed for home. When he arrived there he found three baby girl hippos lying next to Mama. Meet your new baby daughters, she announced to a surprised new father. Papa hippo couldnt speak. Surprised? I didnt know we were having triplets either, Mama said.
Three babies at one time! That meant Papa would have to work three times as hard to feed and clothe them. Still, he was happy. He smiled a big hippo smile, then went to each of his little babies and held them. He picked up the first baby, who was lying by her mothers right leg. Her eyes were deep brown. I think we shall call you Hadiya. The baby hippo smiled at her father.
Then he went to the next baby. Her eyes were as brown as Hadiyas. Oh dear! Papa said. Her eyes are brown too. Oh dear! She looks exactly like Hadiya. How will we ever tell them apart? Papa decided that if he put each baby back in the exact spot hed picked them up from, hed remember which one was which. He kissed the baby and said, We shall call you Hooriya. He lay her down, careful to put her next to Mamas left leg.
The next baby hippo had the same brown eyes as the other two. Oh dear! Her eyes are brown! Oh dear! Papa hippo cried. He didnt know how hed ever be able to tell them apart. He kissed his third baby and said to her, Your name will be Hasna. Then he lay her down by Mama hippos head.
What beautiful names you have picked for our identical triplet babies. I love them all, Mama said with a smile. Then she kissed each one as she recited their names. This is Hadiya, this is Hooriya, and this one by my head is Hasna. The three babies smiled back at their mother. Were the luckiest parents around, arent we? Mama hippo reminded Papa hippo.
He nodded in agreement, and went off to find some food for his family. He was gone a long time. When he came back he saw the triplets, lying together. He dropped all the food he had just gathered from the river and ran to wake up Mama. Dear, you must wake up! he said as he shook her.
Mama hippo woke up; so did all three babies. They began to cry and Mama hippo had to quiet them down. What is it? Look at what you have done. Youve woken them up and.., she stopped, realizing what had happened. The babies were all lying next to each other.
Oh dear! Papa said. How will we tell them apart now?
Mama thought about it for a while. I know! I have some ribbons in that bag over there. Each is a different color. Well put them on the girls and then well be able to tell them apart by the color they are wearing.
Papa hippo went and got the bag. He picked out a blue ribbon and put it on Hadiyas head. Then he put a red ribbon on Hooriyas head, and a yellow ribbon on the last baby, who he presumed was Hasnas head. There now, each one of them has a different colored ribbon.
The triplets looked at the bright ribbons on top of each others heads, then fell back to sleep.
Papa hippo had to go back out to find more food. Mama went down to the river to take a bath. She swam around, dunking herself under the water. When she was done, she helped Papa carry the food back to where the triplets lay sleeping. Why dont you wake up Hasna first, so she can eat. Then, when shes done, well wake up Hooriya, and then Hadiya, Mama suggested .
Papa went over to his sleeping daughters and looked at the ribbons. He couldnt remember which baby had which color. He knew that Mama would remember, so he went and got her. Im sorry, but I cant remember which one is Hasna, he apologized, feeling like a terrible father for forgetting.
Mama went over to her babies. Why you silly hippo! This one, the one with the red ribbon; this is Hasna! Then she looked at the other two, Or is this Hasna? Or is this her? Papa hippo said, Oh dear! Oh dear! Maybe wed better think up a different way to tell our identical daughters apart. Mama hippo had a great idea. Lets put them in frilly dresses that match their ribbons. Surely well remember that way! So she dressed Hadiya in a pretty blue and white polka dot dress, Hooriya in a yellow and white dress, and Hasna in a red dress with white lace all over it. There. That will do it, Mama hippo proclaimed. Luckily she had guessed right on which baby was in which color.
The triplets smiled at their mama and papa, then at each other. They rolled over and went to sleep. Mama hippo had forgotten to feed them, but they looked so adorable as they slept, so she decided to let them be. She and Papa went for a walk down to a nearby mud hole. They ran and jumped in. The cool mud felt so good on their tough skins. They rolled around in it for a few minutes, then sank down deep into the mud and took a short nap. When they returned to their babies, they found the three girls busily eating away. Oh, how precious, Mama said. Look at our little Hasna munching away so cutely. She pointed to the baby in the blue dress.
But dear, Papa hippo interrupted, Thats not Hasna. Its Hooriya. Hasna is in the yellow dress. Or is she? Oh dear! Oh dear!
Again Mama and Papa hippo could not tell their babies apart. They had forgotten which one was which. Mama said, Enough of this! I am going to make sure we can tell them apart from now on! She went over to her sewing box and got a needle and thread. Then she went to the baby in the yellow dress and said, I can tell my babies apart!
She looked into the babys deep brown eyes. This is Hasna. She took off the yellow and white dress, embroidered the name Hasna onto it, and put the dress back on her baby. Now, well all know this is Hasna from this moment on.
Then she went to the baby in the blue and white polka dot dress. She looked carefully at her, and said, This is Hooriya. I know my own babies. She took off her dress and stitched the name Hooriya on with needle and thread. She put the dress back on the baby. Well be able to tell this is Hooriya from now on.
She went to the baby in the red dress with white lace. You must be Hadiya, Mama confidently said. She took of the baby hippos dress and stitched Hadiya on to it with thread. There now, we will always be able to tell our babies apart. And it didnt matter that they were all wrong, because Hadiya, Hooriya, and Hasna