We’ll set the scene: A mother has already lost her husband and five of her children to cholera. So when a British businessman offers her the equivalent of about $500 U.S. dollars for her sons, she says … yes.
She says yes.
No, you didn’t read that wrong.
Oh, and we should probably tell you -- her sons weren’t exactly your average teenage boys. In fact, they were conjoined twins, known as the world's first Siamese twins. The year was 1824, and to be fair, $500 was a huge sum of money back then -- enough for this mother to sell her sons, apparently.
We’re talking about Chang and Eng Bunker. More accurately, we’re talking about “Mismatch” season two.
Have you heard of “Mismatch”? It’s a podcast from Graham Media that’s practically guaranteed to captivate you, once you give it a listen. Each episode starts with a brand-new story, so you can jump in whenever -- you won't be scratching your head if you missed season one (but hey, while we're on the topic, it's worth a mention that season one is definitely worth your time).
Anyway, the podcast is based on the idea that some of the most compelling stories feature some element of a mismatch: people who don't line up with each other, or with their circumstances, or even the era in which they live. Square pegs in round holes often lead to complications and consequences.
And that brings us to the new season and this first episode, all about the lives of the Bunker brothers. The story of Chang and Eng is not what you would expect -- that is, if you had any expectation at all.
The brothers were sent away from their home in Siam, shipped to strange lands and exploited for profit, but later in life, they were the ones to turn the tables. You'll be surprised to learn the specifics. Oh, and another detail: Chang and Eng went on to father 21 children between the two of them. "Mismatch" will get into all that, as well.
Here's what the host, Roger Weber, had to say about working on the episode: "Chang and Eng were uprooted from their homeland, exploited as 'freak shows,' and later accepted as neighbors in a small North Carolina town. The original Siamese twins were talented and resilient. They were also prolific parents. I enjoyed going to North Carolina to meet some of their many descendants. They celebrate and preserve the unique story of Chang and Eng."
And there you have it. Next time you're in the car, at the gym or just hanging out at home, give it a shot. You can listen anywhere, any time.
Editor's note: Podcasts, by the way, are really easy to access -- even if you’re not very tech-savvy. Don’t let the word throw you off. Though podcasting is a new technology, it revives an old art form: pure storytelling.
Let’s say you’ve never listened to a podcast before. Just go to our website, hit “play” on the episode of your choosing, and it’s as simple as that. iPhones even come with a Podcast app where you can subscribe, and if you own an Android, you can download an app -- Stitcher is a good one -- to accomplish the same thing.
Watch for new "Mismatch" episodes from Graham Media dropping every Thursday.