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The Hair Of No Return

goatee

The terrified cries of a passing bee reached his resting ears. He didn’t stop chewing and continued to grind the grass between his teeth, which would eventually fall into his four-chambered stomach. This week alone a giddy-headed butterfly, a slow scorpion and a bunch of ants giving a group hug had been caught in his lovely, white matted hair.

It had begun growing the minute he was born from the base of his chin. Down, down, down, it plunged till it reached his hooves. It darted sidewards, looped over his back, ducked under his belly and wrapped his rump.

His beard had turned into a creeper and was climbing all over his body. It refused to stop growing and it refused to stop swaddling him. He became a giant, walking, ruminating fur trap. One day, the weight of his beard got so heavy he couldn’t move, his feet buckled under him and he fell heavily onto the earth, which refused no burden. His jaw was now in level with the growing grass. He bent his head and began to chew with the tranquility of a dimwit.

Unknown to him, he had fallen on a bewildered kiddy goat, Hircus, who was four days old. At about lunchtime, her mother missed her vicious, urgent tugging at her teat and bleated pitifully, frantically. Hircus heard her and screamed till she grew hoarse with misery, ‘Help me Ma, I am stuck in this cave of hair with no way out. Help me Ma, please.’

After a long time, when hope died and hunger asserted itself as the rightful heir of the doomed kid’s life, her nose twitched and she found she was crushed on an acreage of grass. She flopped down and nibbled a bit. Not as good as Mama’s stuff but at least it quietened the tantrum her stomach was throwing.

In this way, years passed and the beard mummified both of them without discrimination. Every time the bearded goat would eat all the grass under him, he would move an inch or two on his knees. With him, under a mountain of beard hair, Hircus would be carried to a fresh patch of green. Together, they would nibble, each one unaware of the other’s presence.

One day a terrible weight fell on Hircus, a stone cold heaviness, which began crushing her into the very centre of earth. She fought with everything alive in her and stood up after six years. It’s a small miracle her legs still remembered the mechanism.

Her hooves trembled and the white hair fell down her sides like curtains of matted string. She shook her body instinctively, aggressively to throw-off whatever was viciously holding her from above and filling her with a nameless fear.

The goat with the longest beard in the world fell down from the head of Hircus. His hair spread around him like a bed of wool, which softened his fall and made sure no bones were broken in the descent. It didn’t matter though, his breath had stopped, fractured limbs would never hurt again.

Hircus slowly adjusted to the world. She discovered there was a sky above and the beard that imprisoned her was chewable. She learnt there was sweeter grass to which she could run to and a herd of goats who taught her love, heartbreak, envy, happiness, fear and the indescribably joy of passing on your genes.

On some days, however, like when her fourth kid was kidnapped by a stalking wolf she missed the sanctuary of her hairy childhood.

Moral: Adult life makes you miss your childhood home

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

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Silencing A Quiet Life

Sparowww

She was told sparrows were extinct in the part of the city she lived. She didn’t understand. How did she exist if she was supposed to be extinct? Was her living a lie? Was it because she was a bitsy, brown, indistinguishable bump of meat? Was her cheep not loud enough to proclaim the existence of breath?

It was true she had no friends or mates or family who looked like her. From birth she had been alone, foraging for that lonely, wandering worm by herself. She never did mind the solitude till she was told the earth, which held her was emptied of her. It was terrible to think you were a ghost before your flesh, beak and bone crumbled into nothingness.

She twittered. It was her usual, low, soft tweet, which even the branch she was perched on, could not hear. She tried again and again till the decibels rose above the cacophony of daily sounds and became an unmistakable cheep of life. Chirrr, chirrrr, chirrrrooot.

A passing cat paused and cocked his ear. His nose twitched and his mouth dribbled drops of saliva staining a grey leaf brown. A sparrow! Weren’t they extinct in this part of the city? He hurried on promising to return the next day. A rat in a dumpster was waiting to shuffle off its mortal coil.

Warbling loudly was good for her. She finally felt as if there was blood flowing through her body and not water. She could hear herself breathe as her heart hammered in its tiny encasement, the biology of her body surprised her.

Word spread through the trees, the mud and the sky, towards creatures who awaited no news. The sparrow lives. It’s not extinct. The story of survival reached an overcrowded colony of sparrows miles away, where every new birth was an unwelcome burden to the spirit of generosity. A few of them decided to leave right away. Anything would be better than eating half a worm and sleeping ten to a twig.

Before the sun spilt the darkness of its absence, fifty-four chirruping sparrows made their way to the tree of the extinct sparrow. They were delighted at what they saw. Just one inhabitant on this gargantuan, lush tree of excess. How wasteful.

Squawking with happiness, each one of them perched on a different branch, sprawled their wings , swayed their heads and sighed with the contentment of finding luxury at the end of a journey of no return.

The extinct sparrow didn’t mind the crowd. Over time, she made friends, mated, fought with a few neighbours and integrated into the flock with the confidence of a clone. She even forgot the word, that announced her death and began her life.

Moral: If you are alive, advertise it.

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

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The Sickness OF Health

image

She woke-up and rushed to the watering hole. She peered in intensely as if to look for someone other than her in her reflection. ‘Yes, it is still there and last night it has gotten worse.’ Oh, no! She rushed back at the same speed and almost bumped into Dither.

‘See, see it has gotten worse.’

Dither had just woken up wasn’t particularly bright at that time of the morning. ‘Huh?’

‘My black circles, they have become so huge they are soon going to take over my body.’

‘I am not sure ..it looks the same … maybe it has gotten worse’ as he dithered away, Suricata rushed to Dunno, whose head was filled with the ignorance of all the things he didn’t know.

‘Do you know if anybody has died of black circles widening under their eyes?’

‘Dunno’

Do you know if they are a symptom of some other disease?

‘Dunno’

‘Do you think I have an acute case of black-circle-eytes?’

‘Dunno’

In this way, suffering Suricata asked each and every member of her mob about her black circles. Nobody payed her the slightest attention and continued their business of ducking swooping eagles and sunning their bellies.

She went to bed very unhappy that night and woke-up in the morning feeling decidedly sick. She looked around in disgust. Nobody cared. She might as well die. She slunk down and closed her eyes, sulking not sleeping.

For two days the other meerkats ignored her. Not exactly ignored, they didn’t even realise sweet Suricata wasn’t among them. When one of the older aunties tripped over her, injuring all her four toes in the process, that’s when the rest of the mob saw her lying inert, losing weight by the kilo. She was just a bag of skeletons now, clanging inside her skin with the sadness of a dirge.

They crowded around and fished for an explanation. Suricata using the last bit of energy in her, groaned with the softest sadness, ‘My black circles are getting bigger, they are killing me.’ This was serious, they moved a bit away from her and and whispered solutions in low pitched squeaks. Finally, the discussion seemed to die down and the air of a ‘Plan’ enveloped the mob.

One of the meerkats, SoSad, walked daintily up to Suricata. ‘Poor thing, your black circles have gotten worse. Here, have a millipede, they say its legs are good for black-circle-eytes.’

‘Really? It has gotten bad, hasn’t it?’ barked a visibly happier looking Suricata as she chewed on every single leg of that millipede carefully, believing each extremity was a powerful cure.

In this way, the clan filled with fake sympathy but real food cured the hypochondriac Suricata who never ran out of diseases she could suffer from.

Moral: Sympathy works better than pills.

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

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A Parasite Called Love

anglerfish01

From the corner of her eye, Linophryne watched an underdeveloped male swim towards her. In a matter of seconds he would bite into her skin, release an enzyme, which would digest the skin of her body and his mouth so their blood vessels could fuse into one. Literally not romantically or metaphorically. Nothing gross about it. It was just biology.

She needed him to fertilise her spawn and in return he shared her blood filled with life-preserving nutrients. He was too weak to hunt on his own. Statistically speaking he was lucky. Very lucky. Only 1 percent of his type find a mate. The rest remain virgins and starve to death. No one was sure which was worse.

He wasn’t the only one either. Her left rear had two males fused into her, while the right had this joker. Every time the other denizens of the dark ocean bed spoke about love or soulmates she wanted to puke. Her soulmates were parasites living in her bottom, little bumps on her back.

The bacteria on her esca got active and began to produce that beautiful luminescence at the tip of her illicium. Imagine a fish with her own personal fishing rod sticking out of her head. The light filled the dark, murky ocean and attracted her prey. No! She didn’t feel sad for those creatures who swam eagerly towards her enormous jaws, hypnotised by the lure of light Remember, she had to eat for four not one.

Linophryne wished at least once in her life she would would meet a male who would quote poetry to her or bring her a tiny sea anemone. Someone who would show a little lurve. She was tired of being the dominant person in this party.

Oh well, time to reproduce. She extruded the eggs in a kind of gelatinous sheet, which was thirty feet long. Her three attached males as if on cue released their sperm into the water. The sheet acted like a sponge and absorbed the fertile H2O. Job done.

Sigh. Did she mention she missed the romance? Soon another batch of babies would be born and she could go on doing this for another thirty years. She looked at her discontentment and on impulse decide to throw it all out.

She first threw out parts of her romantic soul it floated into some seaweed. She plucked away any desire for a large handsome fish who got her jokes, it wandered into a half-turned seashell. She cut off her loneliness, it got swallowed by a passing whale who began to feel particularly down.

There were finally no emotions left. She was just a fish with a bunch of male fish attached to her bum. She felt neither sad nor happy. She just felt like an anglerfish, which is what she was.

You can’t go so far to say life was good after this amputation but it did carry on till it met death. The path, however, was an untroubled one, filled with melting males, extrusile eggs and uninterrupted biology

Moral: Cut out emotions and everything becomes bearable

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

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The Good Luck Of Luck

Albatross
Like most of her species, Diomedia nestled on one of the most remote oceanic islands in the world. She couldn’t complain, the sun, sand and sea packaged with a sparse population and ample squid, fish and krill, which could be caught efficiently by scavenging, surface seizing or diving made life filled with all the good stuff that kept depression away.

These birds also had the conscience of a clock. As soon as she and her friends spotted a boat up ahead, they would fly with all their might to let the weary sailors know there was land close-by, where they could rest awhile before continuing their perilous and tiring journey.

One clear day, Diomedia was playing with the remains of a fish bone when she spotted a huge ship sailing in the distance. She looked at her beak-buddies excitedly. The oldest birdie there (He was 48 years old) shook his head, ‘Too far, we’ll leave this one to the mercy of the sea gods and the lost souls of sailors.’

Blame it on a full stomach but for some reason Diomedia didn’t want to leave those poor sailors at the mercy of anybody. She spread her 11.2 feet wings and took off. She flew steadily for an hour and that’s when she realised the ship was further away than she thought. The sea sometimes tricks you like that.

She didn’t want to head back and so this obstinate, clever little bird began using the tricks of aviation nature had gifted her. The first thing that come into play was her dynamic soaring technique, where she repeatedly rose into the wind and descended on the downwind, gaining energy from the vertical wind gradient. This helped her cover a 1000 kilometres without flapping her wings.

It was not enough. The ship still seemed miles away. Oh-damn-o-damn! She looked at the endless, pitiless, limitless stretch of sea and decided to use it to slope soar, a technique by which she could use the rising air on the windward side of large waves to fly further without exerting too much of her own energy. Luckily for her, the sea had an infinite number of huge waves and slowly, she inched closer and closer to the ship.

Finally, after 48 hours of flying, she reached the bow and silently perched on it, her exhaustion eating her thoughts, leaving her mind with a blank numbness. The sailors who were just about to turn their ship saw her and hooted with the joy of hope.

With renewed energy they made their way towards the land from which the bird had come from. A little cabin boy, meanwhile, gave poor, tired Diomedia some water and fish. When they finally reached the island, the sailors ran out, fell on their knees and kissed the land.

The captain hugged his men, salty tears rolling down his weathered face, ‘If we hadn’t got lucky and spotted that albatross, we would have surely died at sea.’ Diomedia glared at him, ‘Luck! Luck?? Bah!’.

Moral: Good luck is an unknown good deed

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The Rage Of The Unwanted

Amoeba-baba-1

When Der Kleine Proteus was born he loved the world and wanted to make as many friends as he could. He would extend his pseudopodia and move towards the closest human around. The tip held his heart begging someone, anyone to accept this gesture of friendship.

In the beginning the human didn’t mind, why, it barely registered his presence but the middle he settled down and called the host body his home, the human would start reacting badly to him.

The human’s body would go completely berserk. Frequent flatulence, violent diarrhoea, foul smelling stools – what a bloody mess! To get rid of poor Der Kleine Proteus, the human would then make that cold hearted, weak journey to a doctor, hoping it won’t lose control and stain the doctor’s upholstery.

Soon after that visit powerful antibiotics would enter the equation. They would be ingested orally to nuke out poor, friendly Der Kleine Proteus and finally the human would breathe a sigh of relief in spite of a burning bum.

Der Kleine Proteus tried to make friends with so many human beings but each one of them rejected him in the most selfish, brutal way. Every time he got flushed out of a body his heart would break into a million pieces. Painfully, he would put them back together and crawl towards another human being, hopeful of love.

It never came. Six-year-olds to seventy-year-olds murderously spurned him. Men, women, boy, girls, babies they all despised him with an unfathomable violence. Finally, the day came when his love turned to an empty numbness where nothing good grew.

He stopped wanting to make friends and lay quiet, unmoving for a long time. It could be years. The humans breathed a sigh of relief. The hiatus of his apathy had an expiry date. One day, a fury so blind filled him he could hardly see the days of love.

Der Kleine Proteus began using his powers of binary fission and divided himself at an unimaginable rate. When an army of amoeba entamoeba histolytica had been created, he sent them out, mutant versions of himself, to wreck and ravage every single human body around.

Bodies piled and the living turned dead. Finally, in that village of no body, all that was left was Der Kleine Proteus and versions of himself, each one of them, aching with love, loneliness and the gift of amoebic dysentery.

Moral: The starting point of hate is love

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

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Everybody Hates Me and Vice Versa

Anteater01

The panther sauntered past a frowning Pilosa and yelled a cheery, ‘Lovely day, isn’t it?.’ With characteristic familiarity she stuck out her tongue at him. It was a really long tongue, longer than her head and it accentuated her rudeness.

The panther felt his cheerful mood popping like a balloon on a burner and much to the dismay of the frolicking rabbits he was in a nasty mood the whole day. The forest was beginning to be affected by Pilosa’s hatred towards everybody.

Most of the creatures in that particular stretch of woods were friendly, genial souls who always apologised before wolfing down their prey. The deer would even discuss the weather with the lion when she knew his stomach was full.

In this garden of love and friendship was born Pilosa who detested everybody and everything. She was mean to all without any discrimination. She would say the nastiest of things to the other animals and follow the insult by sticking out her tongue and waggling it offensively.

She called the frog, ‘Bulgy Eyes’, told the bear he stunk of yesterday’s vomit, sneered at a worm’s diet, poked fun of the owl’s cries and ridiculed the sloth’s slow gait. If you asked her why she was being such a pill, she would fix you with her unblinking eyes and think of a fresh, new, hurtful insult aimed at you.

The other animals tried to keep away but the forest was too small to allow the luxury of space. They couldn’t do anything but put up with her churlishness, which spoilt their mood and curdled their joy.

As the forest slowly soured with the disgruntled rage of happy animals, a migratory crab docked by the stream of that forest to mate. He flexed his red pinchers and looked around for any sign of ‘female’.

All he saw was an anteater who told him he was so ugly he should pinch himself and then boorishly stuck out this indecently long tongue at him. Enraged at her incivility, he scrambled sideways towards her and with his pinchers cut off that ungracious tongue. Dropping the shameless appendage into the water he swam away vowing to find a place with more positive energy to procreate.

Dear, disagreeable Pilosa, she couldn’t believe she didn’t have a tongue anymore. How would she eat? She resigned herself to starve and die. The animals slowly began to notice that nothing abusive was being said to them anymore. At first they wondered why, then word got around, starting from the proboscis of a hovering butterfly – Pilosa’s tongue had been hacked off by a wandering crab. Yaaay!

The forest folk were a kind lot. Every day, one of them would volunteer to take a leaf full of dead ants for Pilosa. They would leave this offering of food in front of her. She would glare at them with her unforgiving eyes and in her head think, ‘brain-sprain beaver, idyot ibis, rubber-lipped woodpecker, divvy duck ‘ and so on but of course, she couldn’t say a word.

Moral: Nobody can take away the insults in your head

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