They were black, the kind of deep, lustrous black that draws you in and won’t let you look away. They were three-dimensional oblongs, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, smooth, and showered all over the verandah floor. Each one caught the light at the same angle. Why would anyone strew shiny black garnets upon the verandah, was the first question in my mind. Then others emerged, as the beauty-dots started to move. On closer inspection, they turned out to have legs, the back ones especially fascinating as they ended in a really tiny but perfectly symmetrical fork! All evening they solemnly went about their business on the floor, ignoring the magnificent sunset, the rising night fragrances and the mellow rustling in the coconut trees. They would pause a moment when they met one of their own and then continue on their path. But then it became dark, and we switched on the tube-lights - and suddenly every one of them disappeared. Did they have a tube-light deadline instead of a midnight one, to turn into thin air? What species were they? If one of you is an entomologist, maybe you could tell me...
Maybe you could also tell me the name of these others who roam the farmhouse verandah - they have the antennae, head and body of a beetle but continue into a conical, glistening tail like a miniature snail’s. This tail moves through graceful arcs as these half-and-halves make their way purposefully around the place, engaged in unknown missions. The missions seem to have something to do with avoiding the bright green insects that leaped about athletically - though we were watching attentively, and there were so many of them, not once did any of us see these two species cross paths. The green ones’ mission seemed apparent though - they had to escape the beige and brown lizards darting up and down the walls. One would think that anonymity was essential when trying to evade detention, so the flagrant flamboyance of these brilliantly green many-legged beings puzzled us a little. Puzzlement is not however the feeling which this new world evokes in our new calf Varalakshmi. She’s absolutely certain of her life’s purpose - it is to amuse and entertain her mother Rupa. Last Sunday I watched as she woke her mum up. She worked her way under Rupa’s dewlap from the side, and then proceeded to bob her perfect little head in and out and up and down till Rupa lifted hers and said good morning with a perfunctory lick. Thoroughly enthused by this, Varalakshmi stood up, got all her unwieldy legs in place first, and then proceeded to gambol all around Rupa, stopping at a different spot each time to bestow a loving lick on her. She kept at this for a long while, till Rupa finally decided to get up. Varalakshmi immediately changed her frisking route to include weaving in and out and around and around Rupa’s legs in all directions, pausing every once in a while to look up at Mom and make sure she’s watching and being entertained. After many happy minutes of this, she decided its breakfast-time, and stretched her head up high to have it, while Rupa swung her massive head sideways and proceeded to thoroughly lick this baby ray of beige sunshine.
The rising sunshine also brings out the butterflies. There are many of them about, in plain pale yellow, in brown-and-black patterning, in flashing orange too. But the couture-conscious ones not only sport the most delightfully unexpected spot of blue on their black-and-white wings, but also pose willingly for their photographs to be taken...Quite unlike the buzzing flies that won’t sit still for an instant, constantly flicking their tricoloured antennae, bobbing their striped heads and showing off the solid colours as well as gradients - including an unlikely teal - on their backs.
Mythical creatures that look like two others combined, mystical deadlines, myriad hues, maternal love made visible - they’re all still to be found right here, living quietly in every rural home. Is it any surprise our ancestors told such inspired stories?