Monday, June 05, 2006

Swatting flies, Killing snakes

I visited a friend at his sprawling new nearly a million dollar home, this weekend. Beautiful home! It was neat, it was orderly and it was impeccable. I envy him for his lavish home and more so for keeping it tidy. We were eating lunch when a pesky little fruit fly sneaked in. The maid, a somewhat husky red-headed Mexican woman, was summoned for a bug busting mission. She stepped into the room, looked around to locate the antagonist, and then with the grace and dexterity of a professional killer tiptoed silently towards the beast. What followed was a gory saga of unspeakable brutality. She swatted the fly and the fly swat her back, she chased the insect and the insect chased her back, she showered Hispanic abuses at it and the fly hissed back at her in perfect Buckingham accent. There was swatting, beating, shooting, booing, mooning, hacking - it was likes a scene from one of those Dracula movies, dreadful, bloody and shocking. After five minutes of intense gun fight, the badly battered women succumbed. Later my friend explained to me how these little rascals are making him sick. “They bring in bacteria and germs” he said. “I have pest control, but they just keep coming”

I smiled and thought of my childhood home. My home was a fruit fly command central. We were blessed with an abundance of fruit bearing trees, like jack fruits, mangos, guava, pappaya, banana and gooey cocoa. Fruits were so abundant that no body cared to pick those. Squirrels, crows and little birds feasted on them. Like poor old men, ripe, miserable and half eaten they fell and rotted. Flies swamped the area. There were enough flies to form a CITU local committee. Big flies, little flies, fat flies, skinny flies, happy flies, jealous flies, fly that sang songs, flies that had MBA degrees, and they came in all types and denomination. Then around the time when schools reopened, it rained and the flies would all die down.

But rains brought in tadpoles instead. My aunt, who was only a few years older than I was, had a theory about tadpoles; she believed they came from clouds. "Black clouds are pregnent clouds"
she would say "they are pregnant with black tadpoles". Rain water collected around coconut trees, where happy tadpole families took refuge. Within a few days the happy little tadpoles became happy little frogs and happy little frogs became happy big frogs. They invaded our homes, in ones, in twos, and then in whole battalions. But soon they would all disappear as well, with the tapering monsoon. Then it was the time for the millipedes, which reigned supreme well past our Onam vacation. We always had guests that kept us exited.

Snakes were the most prevalent of all. It seems to me that our village nurtured more snakes than the entire Amazon basin. Those paddy fields and the surrounding marshes were snake havens. Specially ‘neerkoli’ and ‘chera’. Even the most concentrated and relentless Endo Sulfan treatment by local peasants like Raman Pillai did not pollute them out of their sanctuaries. But it did kill his buffalos and eventually killed him too. Killing snakes was a macho thing, especially for young men. It was a festival of sort. Young men armed with ‘madals’ (coconut leaf-stems) would surround the reptiles. They poked into holes, smoked them out and boxed in the helpless creature. They would stone and beat the snake into submission. Dead and mutilated it was left there for display. The whole village would gather around it. Men, women, children, everyone. Young girls timidly laid their wistful wiggly eyes upon young men - with enthusiasm – with interest. Young men gloated in approval and with a heavenly sense of accomplishment ‘exchanged eyes’ with their secret admirers. They formed un-spoken bonds. They established invisible tiny chords of ephemeral village love.

I have only beaten a snake once, and that too a dead one. It was fun; adventure – I felt the gallantry of killing a predator, a sense accomplishment like a roman gladiator, an immense gratification of walking around like a macho boy. I was too young to generate any “eye tracking’ attention, nevertheless it was fun and amusing. It was more amusing and adventurous than watching a husky Mexican maid swat a fruit fly.


Anonymous Priyadarshan said...

Good pick up of topics, selective, irrelevant matters of our daily life, what else, humorist… I think the sentences which Mr. Byju using is good for my health. My friends has only one complaint from me, that I am not laughing.. yes really I am not laughing, its occasionally only, otherwise it is in the dark, even after confirming that none is beside me.

" ....Big flies, little flies, fat flies, skinny flies, happy flies, jealous flies, fly that sang songs, flies that had MBA degrees...., Yes i want to laught in the darks.........

Yes I shared a lot of moments with this writer in many occasions…. But I had a soft corner always in my mind, and still I have. I remember the occasion, when I was a class 3 or 4th student of "Pattam primary school" where the school kids found one old mad women roamed inside our school premises. All the half-trousers assemble around that old mad ugly creature and thrown small pebble on her. I snuffle with tears in my nose and yelled them "don’t throw her stone please……… she is just like our mother……… " Even in this time when ever I am visiting my mother she is narrating that moments with my brothers…

2:48 AM  
Blogger Bhagya said...

What a great story teller.. kudos Byju bhai. You can take a plot of a 'death' of a fly & weave your wonderful childhood memories around it.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Injikadan Mathai said...

hey that was sooooo niceeee man...i grew up outside kerala therefore my memories are restricted to visits to ammumma and muthachan during the summers...eventually as the years passed by the two month long summer break was a luxury that i could ill afford...one week was proving to be a difficult achievement...

but that is besides the point... there were tons of snakes there tooo..yikes i used to be so scareeedddddd...my ammaman was an avid snake destroyer...hehehe...but yeah those were the days...

7:09 AM  
Blogger ann said...

very interesting and funny ... made me lol ..

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