It was just another normal Thursday morning. We thought.Well, it was a little abnormal maybe, because Ursula was sick, and wouldn’t be going to school this day in our adopted city, Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon), Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).
Mom and I climbed into Thaung Tun’s white Toyota ProBox station wagon, and headed for school, leaving Ursula behind in our house on Yadanar Street with Dad. Thaung Tun is our driver. Yadanar means “treasure” in Burmese, by the way.
Just as we reached the edge of Inya Lake and turned left on Kabar Pagoda Road, Thaung Tun yelled out: “Danger! Danger!”
I looked out the rain-streaked windows to see what he was talking about. Then mom saw it and gasped. It was inside. I screamed.
It was……………well, I’ll tell you later.
Ok fine. It was a GIANT yellow spider, lowering itself fast from the rearview mirror on what must have been a very strong strand of silk.
Now we’ve all seen big spiders. But let me tell you what I mean by “giant.”
It was as big as my hand with all five fingers spread. I mean, this spider was more crab-size than spider-size. I mean, it must have been six inches from the tip of one articulating leg to another. I’m not exaggerating.
As we made a sharp left in heavy traffic, the change of direction caused the enormous arachnid to swing wildly, in an ellipsis. It arced close to the neck of the usually unflappable Thaung Tun, who leaned away. Mom and I were in the back, preparing to eject ourselves from the still moving vehicle, if necessary.
Increasingly, it appeared to be necessary.
“Thaung Tun was pretty freaked. We were all freaked,” Mom would say later. "It was by far the largest spider I've ever seen in my life."
As the spider reached lap level, Thaung Tun’s superhero driving skills kicked in. With one hand on the wheel he completed the turn and steered the car to a stop while procuring a green rag from nowhere with the other. He then attempted -- but failed -- to scoop up the spider before its eight long legs latched onto the center console in front of us.
Now, it was Mom’s turn to scream.
“Get out of the car!” she yelled, crouching by the door on her side, but not actually getting out. She was on the traffic side and couldn’t easily evacuate. And moving over to my side would have meant passing closer to the spider, now hiding somewhere in the bric-a-brac of the console. So she remained frozen, huddled in her corner. As for me: I leaped out into the rain, no further discussion required.
Thaung Tun somehow caught the monster with his rag and opened the driver’s side door (which would actually be the passenger side in American cars) to shake it out into a stream of gutter water. I gladly climbed back in and shut the door, watching the spider rush into the road with the current. Ha, I thought.
After we started moving again, I became uneasy. What if there were more spiders? Believe me, I couldn’t wait to get to school!
Story written by Gryffyn M. May and Tahra J. May. Editing by Timothy D. May.
Gryffyn's life-size sketch of the yellow spider.
Thaung Tun demonstrates just how large the spider looked to him.