When Vanchay was born, the old village shaman declared him unusual, one to look out for. A boy who could call naga. The boy's mother looked at him, puzzled and a little frightened, but proud as well. She lay on the small birthing bed whilst below them the mighty Mekong rushed by, and for a minute she thought she could hear the water serpent move below.
"He will be the boy who called the naga?" she asked, her heart filing with a fierce, early pride.
"No," said the old shaman, shaking his head and walking away, "that's not what I said. He is a boy who can call naga."
What's the difference?, Vanchay's mother asked herself, and went back to nursing the newborn. She was sure something else continued rustling underfoot.