The Lizard in the blizzard - Alien hues and lockdown blues

Santosh Bakaya

Did you say lockdown blues! Yes, I know what it means! But the only difference being that my blues had different hues, mostly black, brown, and sand coloured.
 It was lockdown time and we were locked inside with a rat, a lizard, and a fly.
Six months – and three creatures, sympathizing with our locked-in status, tried to get pally with us during this unwelcome incarceration.
The rat was as stout as Julius Caesar *
How did that bloated rat know that I had grown up listening to dad reciting The Pied Piper of Hamelin and it would be welcome in the house?
For almost a week, I chased it through the length and breadth of the house, but it refused to be chased out.

I was plagued by nightmares where I saw our house being infested with rats, making me wonder whether I would have to blow a pipe, advancing from street to street, uttering three shrill notes, to make the rats leave the house dancing and prancing?
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers*

But, I was no Pied Piper and Jaipur was not a small town on the banks of river Weser, so I stayed mum.
“Mummy, are you doing something about the rat, or should I?” My daughter stood holding the door ajar.
Maybe the stout rat had heard the stout threat, and having seen the ajar door, scurried out on its own, without much hullabaloo. No pipe was needed, no rat poison, no rattrap. What an escape! I was lucky- and how!

It was now the turn of a lizard.
It was creating havoc all around the kitchen with impunity.
“It is either a very slothful lizard or drugged.” I declared, with an all-knowing air.
“Oh no, we have a drug addict at our home!” my daughter quipped with mock horror, round eyes darting around, hunting for the lizard. She did not notice, but I did.
It was near the sink, slithering around like only comatose lizards can, unfazed by the doggerel that flew from my mouth, unbidden.

I am no wizard
to tackle a lizard
Ah for a blizzard
to annihilate this lizard

“Don’t try to doggerlise the situation. When will you realise the gravity of the situation? No blizzard will kill the lizard, but this doggerel definitely will, mom.” Daughter scowled, summoning a plethora of scowls to her rescue.
There she was-one humongous scowl, and there the lizard, on its prowl.

 It was moving around in a drugged stupor, unaware of the scrimmage in the house.
Before I could retort, or add one more rhyming line to the doggerel, the lizard, belying its drugged state had jumped into the sink, making me drop a pan on it, in an absolute panic. Before it knew it, it was tail-less! The edge of the pan had fallen on its tail, and soon the tail was dancing on its own, in the sink.
Eeeks, mom get rid of this tailless lizard at once.” Daughter screamed.
“FYI, I have no expertise in catching tailless lizards. “I out- screamed her.
“But no way am I going to stay in a house where tailless lizards run amok.” She was fuming.
This tantrum needed to be dealt with immediately, but before I could think of a strategy, the lizard had disappeared. Nowhere to be seen.
Gone with the wind.” My daughter remarked.
I peeped out of the window, to see whether there was a wind and whether the leaves were swaying in the breeze. No, they were not. They were silent. But my daughter was not.
“Is it true that a lizard’s tail is regenerated?”
“Does the lizard get a new tail, or does the tail get a brand new tail-less lizard?” She hurled questions at me, while my eyes hunted for the tail-less monstrosity.

On the window sill there was an old, but not discarded brass mug, a prize that I had received long years back, which daughter had been insisting was an eyesore and that I should get rid of, pronto.
“It is a prize”, I had reiterated, stamping my foot.
“But it has now fallen into disrepute. I just saw the lizard trying to slither out of it”. She retorted, shaking with the intensity of an earthquake 7. 9 on the Richter scale.

Not wasting a second even in gasping, I clamped a napkin over the brassware, and with the mug in my hand raced out of the house.
“When you come back, do wash your hands and sanitize yourself.”
Daughter ran after me yelling instructions and I dashed towards the dumpster, flinging away the mug along with the lizard.
 “So you threw the baby with the bathwater. Bravo, mom!”: Daughter thumped me on my back.
“So an era comes to an end. It took a tail-less lizard to get the house clean of a dirty brass mug.” Husband quipped with a twinkle.

 Thus was the tailless lizard regally carried out – perhaps to grow a new tail in greener pastures, or to slither around tail-less? Or mutate into a dinosaur? Or to join a libertarian haven of tail-less lizards, taking their taillessness in their stride- The sorority of Saurian Stoics.
What exactly was in store for her, I didn’t know.
Thereby hangs another tale, I think.

It was just today that an impudent little fly not only broke into our house but also broke into a song and dance. The audacity!
My beloved home and hearth, lying quiescent also broke into song and dance. Honestly, the songs were cacophonous and the dance maladroit. Father-daughter flung their limbs in all directions, hurling invectives at the pathetic little mosquito and strident instructions at me, as I swatted everything in sight.
 But the fly.
The books fell from the table, the flower vase broke to smithereens, the paper napkins flew in all directions, the cushions lay about in colorful disarray, and instructions flew. Relentlessly. Unstopping. Ceaselessly.

“Yay, I have done it!” I sang and sang, holding aloft the fly- swatter, unable to understand the spurt of raucous guffaws that had suddenly started threatening the foundations of the house.
“Why are you laughing like a pack of hyenas?”
“You know, that laughter vocalization is usually made when hyenas are threatened. Maybe we are threatened?” Daughter and husband seemed to have ganged up against me.

“Hey what are you doing? I don’t deserve this……this domestic violence.” I yelled, glaring at my husband, who quickly removed his hand from my elbow where I had just been whacked so vehemently that my eyes almost popped out.
At least one eye did.
“Oh, I was just whacking this fly that is all. I am a nonviolent person. We just felt threatened by the fly which you had so lovingly nurtured and domesticated, hence I killed it in self-defense.”
“Get a reality check, mister, it was I who killed the fly.” I retorted, belligerence in my stance, eyes scouring the ground for the winged martyr.
“You did not kill the fly- just broke the flyswatter into two.” He said, taking the flyswatter, or what remained of it, from my hand, and waving it at me. It was a pathetic little amputated thing, not a flyswatter by any standards. My daughter picked up a broom and swept out the carcass of the irksome fly which had been mercilessly removed from my elbow by my husband. The scene appeared almost Kafkaesque to me.
Phew! At last, the house was rid of aliens.

But, I suddenly shuddered as it struck me that I had also grown up listening to The Owl and the Pussycat in my father’s powerful baritone. Were an owl and a pussycat now waiting stealthily in the shadows to pounce at me any minute?
Yes, the night was only a few hours away and I could hear an owl clearing its throat just outside my window. Phew!

* From The Pied Piper of Hamelin [Robert Browning]
* From The Pied Piper of Hamelin [Robert Browning]


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