2

Call Me Names

IMG_0712 dragonfly

The dragonfly was irritated. She tossed her lovely long wings and stamped one of her six feet. She also sighed deeply in case anyone was listening. It never hurts to garner sympathy points when you are feeling bad.

She looked at her reflection in the water over which she was flying and tried breathing out aloud. Her mouth fully open, stretched as wide as her head (Yes, she could do that, maybe she should have been called Big Mouth). Nothing came out. Not a spark. She paused and tried again. It was just air. No fire, no smoke. Then why the hell did she have a ‘dragon’ in her name? There had to be a scientific reason for it, right?

Then the poor thing tried being a fly. She tried buzzing with all her might but not a sound came. She sat on some old, soggy, putrid bisibellebath thinking maybe her palate was like that of a fly. She almost puked. How do these creatures eat this stale stuff?

Her species was 300 million years old and they still couldn’t find an original name for her. She was one of the most efficient predators in the animal kingdom. She could catch 95% of her prey. Couldn’t she be called ’95 Percent Accurate Killer?’ (NPAK for short). She was quite sure there were no creatures called that. Why in the name of Anisopetra was she called dragonfly when there was nothing dragon-like or fly-like about her? It was so annoying to be stuck with an identity, which made no sense.

Or maybe she could be christened ‘Does The Seemingly Impossible Things In Air’ (DTSITIA for short). She could move each of her four wings independently, even rotate them forward or backwards on the axis. Fly up, down, backwards, hover, instantly change direction and even stop in air without crashing to the ground. That is remarkable, isn’t it? Why wasn’t she named after this incredible prowess?

Or they could have spoken about her magnificent eyes, which had a 360 degree view. She could see you when she was flying towards you AND when she was flying away. Imagine. She had the largest compound eyes in the insect kingdom with each eye containing 30,000 facets. An apt name would have been ‘She Of The Most Beauteous And Plentiful Eyes’ (SOTMBAPE for S)

At the end of all this thinking, vanity won over and the dragonfly decided to call herself Sundari. As she rolled the word in her mouth, she began to feel good. No more this dragonfly calling business. She was sure her entire species would approve of a name, which was so fresh and original. Not a single creature in the animal kingdom had it. As she began fluttering her four wings to fly off and tell her weyr the good news about their new nomenclature, a green, plump frog, who had the most original name in the world, stuck out its tongue and gobbled up Dragonfly aka 95 Percent Accurate Killer aka Does The Seemingly Impossible Things In Air aka She Of The Most Beauteous And Plentiful Eyes aka Sundari.

Moral: If you change your name, you will still taste just as sweet.

The Dragonfly is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com

2

Cut Yourself Off

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Lizzy isn’t a boar. Or an orang-utan. Or a Pekinese cat. She is a lizard. A beautiful, lovely little gecko who loves to stick her tongue out and catch those sweet flavoured flies. She enjoys thin flies best as she likes to suck on their bone and it’s good for her. Everybody knows lean meat is the most healthy.

Though that’s not what is weird about her. She is a bit of a mad-potty-full-out-lunatic. Reason? She loves to get her tail cut and watch it wiggle. Isn’t that weird. Imagine chopping a bit of yourself and then taking amputated selfies.

Lizzy would try all kinds of ways to cut her tail. If the man of the house was cutting the back of his hair, she would silently crawl behind him and stick her tail between the open jaws of the scissors. As the upper shear blade and the lower shear blade came together, her tail would be chopped off and the man would think he has really thick hair at the back of his head.

Or if someone was closing a door, she would stealthily but swiftly crawl towards its edge, shut her eyes and stick her tail out. Bang! The door would close and her tail would be off. The only problem with this method was she couldn’t see that cut-bit of her wiggle-waggle-woggle all over the floor.

Once, when the little boy who lived in that room full of toy cars was practising his karate chops on bricks, Lizzy leaped on the red brick surface and waited wondering how this chop would feel. Ow! Ow! Ow! That hurt and the damn hand didn’t cut her, it probably just dented some part of her anatomy permanently.

Autotomy was better than TV. Imagine watching your own tail flip, leap, jump, lunge and dance for about for thirty minutes. It was fascinating and at the end of the show, the pain would set in, distracting you from the painful monotony of life.

Lizzy was really happy with the way her world was. As long as she had a tail, which she could detach and then regenerate at will she didn’t need anything more. One day, the young girl of the house was cutting carrots. She was a bit sensitive in nature, the kinds who reads poetry and weeps when things look too beautiful. The girl was dreamily thinking of all the unhappiness in the world, which she couldn’t wipe away as her hands moved fast and furiously making the carrots change shape from lean and long to round and fat.

Lizzy snuck up to the cutting board and swiftly put her tail in the path of the chopping knife. The knife made contact, Lizzy’s tail got severed, the girl shrieked hysterically and the lizard sat happily watching her tail do some fantastical moves.

The girl began crying looking at the poor lizard without a tail. She thought of herself as a monster, a murderer. With great courage she lifted the knife again and chopped off the poor, injured lizard’s head so that it wouldn’t suffer the unbearable pain of an amputated tail for one second longer. The tail wiggled for a long time in tune to the girl’s sobs as Lizzy’s decapitated head watched with the disinterest of the dead.

Moral: The power to hurt yourself should only be with you

Lizzy is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com

0

Aim For The Mud

IMG_0695 wormMegadiri looked up – mud. Looked down – mud. Looked to the right – mud. Looked to the left – mud. Gah! What a life. It was no fun being an earthworm. She chewed some more of what she had been chewing since the day of her existence. Want to guess what? Go on, take a wild shot. Yes mud.

As the sun set, she knew she didn’t want to wake up the next day. After all, what was there to look forward to? More mud? Who cares if she was the farmer’s best friend? Who was her best friend? Mud? She wanted to be like the birds, soaring high, with the freedom to go where they want and the power to eat other worms.

Megadiri couldn’t bear it anymore and decided to kill herself as soon as the sun rose. Suicide was precise work and she would need the light. At 6:30 am sharp, she began her upward crawl. Once she hit the surface, she found a stone. Slowly but with excruciating pain, she rubbed herself against its jagged end and cut herself into two.

She thought she would die immediately. She didn’t. Life takes a long time to leave you. What was even more weird was that her cut self, lifted itself and said a cheerful “Hi!”. Megadiri glared. Now there were two of them in the mud. By the time both of them crawled back down, the cut half was as thoroughly depressed as Megadiri. Depression can be contagious.

The next morning, both the earthworms crawled up to commit suicide but they didn’t die. Instead, they came back down as four depressed earthworms. This continued for a few days. The suicidal population of the earthworms in that particular patch of land numbered 16384 in a frighteningly short period of time.

Imagine 16384 earthworms crawling up, all of them trying to kill themselves. If the mud could afford therapy it would have perhaps felt a bit better. On this particular day, one of the earthworms, a newbie, asked rather loudly, “Why do we have to try and kill ourselves today? Can’t we do something different?” The other earthworms froze. They had never even thought of a variation in their routine.

One surly worm spat, “What? What can we do in mud?”. The newbie thought for some time, cheered up visibly and said, “Let’s party”. Soon, 16384 earthworms who were on their way to commit suicide, did a U-turn, and burrowed deep into the earth. When they were far enough from suicide point, they all waited. Nobody knew how to party.

The newbie didn’t either but he improvised. He spat some mud at the nearest earthworm. That earthworm spat some mud back at him. Soon they were having a merry mud fight. It was so much fun and at the end of the day, they all slept, exhausted but energised with joy.

The next morning when they woke up, not a single one of them wanted to crawl up and commit suicide, including Megadiri. They all wanted to pardee and that’s exactly what they did, every single day. Woohoo.

Moral: If you have you, you can never be lonely.

The earthworms drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com The earthworms drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com

2

Carry Your Own Burden

IMG_0687 donkey

Donkeys have been domesticated for 4500 years. That’s enough time to win a war or create a revolution. Unfortunately, the donkey population did neither and continues to serve, willingly offering themselves as beasts of burden.

Onager had other plans. She was an exceptionally intelligent donkey and was sick and tired of the nonsense that was dumped on her back. She had no need for the rice or vessels or bedding they put on her, then why should she carry it? If it was a bundle of straw or her daily feed, she wouldn’t mind.

Of course, the man who owned her didn’t get why his donkey reacted so badly every time he plunked things on her. He cursed his luck for choosing a rebel and continued whipping her. Onager wasn’t so easily bullied. Her body followed that man’s instructions, while her brain tried to find a way to get out of this carrying business. The idea for her liberation came from her captor. One day, she saw him get up and as he did, the mud, which was sticking to his backside fell down, aided by gravity and a dusting hand.

Boing! She had her solution. The next day when the man groaning and heaving put those 50 kgs on her, she raised her front legs and stood up just on her hind legs. This straightened her spine and dropped the luggage. The man cursed and swore and whipped poor Onager. It didn’t help one bit. Every stubborn atom in her was focussing on never carrying anything again.

A Road Romeo (someone who loves the road) who was watching the whole thing spotted a chance to make some easy money. He told the man, now that the donkey had decided not to carry things there was no power on earth that could change its mind. He offered to take Onager off his hands at no cost. The man was too disgusted with his beast to wonder why another human being was being so uncharacteristically kind.

Onager eyed the Road Romeo warily. She wondered what his plan was. The first thing he did was to put a bright red rope around her neck. Then, he led her to the market place and began yelling, “Come and see the standing donkey”. As the crowd gathered around him and Onager, he placed a matchbox on her back.

She immediately stood on her two legs and the box fell off. The crowd went wild and applauded. They had never seen anything like this before. He then took off his cap and passed it around for a donation. “For the standing donkey”, he said, “She needs to eat double for double strength” The crowd was generous, the Road Romeo wondered whether he should invest in property and the donkey knew she would never carry anything again.

Moral: To let go of your baggage you may have to do some monkey tricks.

Onager is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com

0

Burn Baby Burn

IMG_0414 moth The sun had set and it was time for Tineidae to wake-up. She looked around for a light, unappreciative of the world, which was stunningly beautiful in its cloak of darkness. She was a positively phototactic moth and any light, read bulbs, fire, candles, torches could charm the wings off her. If the source of light was hot enough, this would happen quite literally.

Nobody seemed to know why these moths were so keen on being kamakazie, why they flew towards the certain death of a hot light, unwaveringly. To be fair, Tineidae wasn’t thinking of suicide. She had other things to do like moon at that beautiful porch light staring at her, begging her to come closer.

It was almost like she was under a hypnotic spell. Some would even call it love. She looked at the light for a long time, resisting the pull. But the more she stared at it, the more its power grew. She tried looking away, into the darkness. It didn’t help, her head was full of the light, calling out to her, pleading with her to come, just once, so that they could be together.

Poor Tineidae. She had never been in love before and didn’t know how it wreacks havoc with your logic, reason and self-esteem. She wondered if she dared to make that flight, would the light think her brown wings were pretty.

All this love sickness hadn’t made Tineidae hungry. She was one of those breeding moths. Her purpose in the universe was to be alive for a week, mate and lay eggs. She didn’t even have a mouth but now, there was a spanner in her dharma. She was in love with a light.

Ignoring all the rules of survival that were screaming in her, Tineidae beat her wings and began flying swiftly and purposefully towards that bright light. A million warning sensors went off in her head. Like a true lover, she ignored each one of them. She reached the light and placed her feet on its shiny, glass surface. A passing rat almost somersaulted. What? Why didn’t that silly little moth fry to a crisp and fill the air with that amazing burnt body smell? There she sat, pretty as a picture, making moth love talk to that dumb light, which was cold, cool and luminous.

The rat, of course, had no idea humans had invented LED bulbs, which generate no heat. In two hours the moth got tired of that stupid, unresponsive light and flew off to find a nice male moth she could mate with. When she found him, she didn’t even remember what that porch light looked like.

Moral: To get over a fatal attraction, submit to it.

Tineidae is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com