Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at! Up above the world you fly, Like a tea tray in the sky. -The Mad Hatter (Alice's adventures in wonderland)
in continuation of: inescapable pigeon droppings : chapter 11
The baron arrived early one evening with a man in tow. The man carried along a certain something which upon closer inspection was found to be a…. a banana tree. “A banana tree of our own”, said he and we were beside ourselves with joy. The garden was turning out to be our own private jungle infested with fish, pudina, countless flowers, vegetables, a dog and several guinea pigs.
I was still confounded by the very presence of a singularly curious element in the cosmos- the white crayon. Why on Earth(or Pluto) would anyone want a crayon with such a colour as white?
The banana tree, however firmly planted, ensconced, fortified, watered down; refused to bear fruit(or were we being too restless?) and at times seemed to tilt and fall off. But nothing could budge us, we were happy as it is, fruit or no fruit, all we wanted was a banana tree of our own.
Chapter-12: Of Cardamoms and Luminescent Bums
The cardamon-chewing old man arrived one day, and as I saw him, I had a gloomy presentiment of things to follow. He was Mrs Jena’s Father. Mrs Jena, who was a second wife to Mr Jena, our neighbour, introduced us to the old one, and the latter promptly offered(handed, gagged, choked) us cardamom. A cardamom lover was he.
The dotard tried to preach us every now and then and would say things in the cadence of a priest high on verses from the ‘Geeta’.
Things came to a head when one fine morning all four of us, the baron, the mother, the March Hare and I, were all set for a picnic at the zoo and had just leapt into the army gypsy when the old baobab tree came running and sat alongside us. The parents were more than pleased. We looked like we had been skinned alive. All through the way, he stuffed into our mouths fistfuls of cardamom and began his sermon. I felt I was living the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.
The menace ebbed away in a matter of weeks, to our mirth. One of those evenings, the baron turned homewards bringing along a sinister creature- a fish, a dead one. It was an outrage, such an unutterably foul thing as a dead fish, and the mere intent of eating it was a top-shelf sacrilege in a Brahmin household. Yet, the act was done with the low-key connivance of both, and the fish was cooked on a pan. We were warned about thorns(that was too much) and it was the first and last time any such blasphemous act was committed in the household. We decided to forget this ever happened with the tacit consent of all.
The Guinea pigs, which had in the months thrived to multitudes were ready to be trained for the adverse, and I took it upon my very self. The altar was set, I picked the guinea pigs and started throwing them from atop the verandah. Only when a little one started bleeding from his teeth did I defer from the undertaking.
The dotard gone, we set out one morning to witness the fair at Sonepur, regarded as the biggest animal fair in all of Asia. The mela ground was a vast spread of land with intricately adjusted shops and stalls displaying domestic animals and all sorts of birds(It is especially known for Elephants). Soon enough, my eye caught sight of a green-green parrot and I started pestering the parents for buying it, upon which they told me in prophetic words and saintly tones things to the effect that “all that glitters is not gold, son. We’ll get you a nicer parrot than that”.
In the end, I saw myself going home with a toy parakeet in my hand which made a squawking sound when poked in the belly.
Several lessons and sand-dune tunnels later, one night in the wake of rains when Patna seemed to turn a bit colder, we saw them come in swarms- tiny insects with luminescent bums. Fireflies!
They became a pestilence soon enough in the playground. One night, overcome by curiosity, I held one between my palms and brought it home. A bottle of jam served as a house, or else the guinea pigs would have eaten him, or so I thought. We kept observing his twinkling bum until the mother found out and then, following a quick reprimand, she fed him on wheat flour and bid him a farewell, this was the supposed custom to see a firefly off when you have been holding him captive without his assent.
The March Hare had just learnt to ride a bicycle and one evening, putting his skill on display he was riding it- FULL TILT! Enraptured by such a speedy spectacle, I joined him on the carrier. Soon, my nose found itself flung from the carrier and grazed on the asphalt of the road. The March Hare escaped unscathed.
In a state of drowsiness, I remember Mrs Jena carrying me in her lap and scolding the culprit. She disinfected the tip of my nose with her lotions and affixed my nose with a large wad of cotton wool that reminded me of the stuffed rhinoceros I had seen at the museum the other day.
The days passing by opened up new worlds, brought forth new things- sugar-candies, birthday parties, skulls, burglars and yes! snakes! (and ladders too).
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