It is 11 am on a school holiday, and I’m helping my daughter with her French lesson. We’re sitting at the dining table, minding our own business, when we hear a rattling sound coming from the French windows that open onto a small grassy terrasse. My daughter turns, jumps, and cries : “Mom, look, there is an animal ! Look!”
Gloups. Those who know me, know that I’m not into animals as a rule. The only pets I’ve allowed into our household are fishes in a tank. They’re pretty, silent, and don’t require too much work. I might have relented and gotten a cat (I always loved their elegance and their independent streak,) but my husband is allergic. End of story. Of course, I don’t mention the geckos that grace our walls. I’ve grown totally used to having those around. They don’t bother me, and I don’t bother them. They’re actually very useful as they eat insects. But that’s as far as it goes.
So here I am, wondering – somewhat anxiously – what to expect. I mean, we have stray dogs, the occasional neighborhood cat, plenty of frogs, a rooster who crows at the most unlikely hours, a bird who adopted the outside staircase that leads to our rooftop, and regularly comes to hatch her eggs (half her babies get ripped apart by the monkeys, in spite of our efforts to protect them), and plenty of snakes, I hear, although I’ve so far managed to avoid seeing them. And of course, outside the gate, we have the buffaloes, the camels, the goats, the occasional sacred cow, and a few years back, we even had a black panther roaming the streets.
Well, this time, it’s a three-feet monitor lizard !
We saw one on a road in Sri Lanka, so I know what it is. And even though I’m terrified of reptiles (I can’t even look at a picture of a snake or a crocodile in a dictionary) that one does look pretty harmless. My daughter, of course, is jumping up and down, excited, and yet a bit grossed out, too. It is really quite bizarre.
Anyway, we look at it for a minute, take pictures, and I say, cool as a cucumber : “OK, it’s just walking around. Let it be, and let’s get back to work.”
We sit down at the table, but a few minutes later, we hear that rattling sound again. Our friend is back. And it does look like it is trying to get in. I mean, look at that, right ?
We see it go around the terrasse a couple of times, and it becomes obvious that the poor thing is trapped. What to do ? The security guard calls the neighbor’s mahi who shows up a few minutes later with a huge stick. Not at all what I have in mind. I somehow locate the phone number of the Friends of Snakes Club, call them, and, surprise ! a guy answers who not only speaks English, but tells me they’ll be there in 30 mns. Ok, this is India, and I’m not holding my breath, but I’ve done what I could.
We try to get back to work, but it’s hard. After a while of silence, we wonder where the lizard went. It is no longer on the terrasse. Maybe these guys will show up for nothing. We look for the lizard all over the place, and find it on the side of the house, crawling on the wall that goes down to the room where we hang our laundry to dry. Well, maybe it did find its way out. Then, the guys from the Friends of Snakes Society DO show up. On a motorcycle. I wonder how they will take that lizard to release it in the forest, but wait, we’ll find out…
Now, the poor lizard, who’s not the brightest on the block, honestly, has managed to walk into a drain pipe that’s no more than three and half inches in diameter. How, I don’t know. But it’s stuck. See the guy holding its tail ? He’s pulling, pulling, but the lizard is not moving.
They want me to break the opening of the drain pipe. No kidding ! Of course, I refuse. Come on. I’m not going to break the house for a lizard with no sense of orientation, and stupid enough to go stick itself into a hole twice too small to fit it.
So, our guys open a trap, and these HUGE coackroaches start coming out. Now can you see the scene ? I’m standing outside, shouting, so are my two girls, and then I’m running to the kitchen to get the spray to kill these BEASTS, all the time yelling to them to CLOSE THE TRAP RIGHT NOW !
Now, while I’m gone, don’t ask me how, these guys actually get the lizard out. I mean, look at its
belly. It’s HUGE.
So, now, the rescuers ask for a pillow cover. No plastic bag. Our friend wouldn’t be able to breathe nicely.
I find a large hotel laundry bag, and they’re happy.
See? Who needs a big car, if you can carry your wandering lizard (or snake) in a pillow case ?
Well, that’s it, Folks ! End of this new episode in the ongoing series : Our Incredible Life in India !