The Bandicoot and the Specs
by Vimala Ramu
I wear specs- bifocal and photo chromatic. I wear it all the time except in bed and in bathroom.
I have a small 8 feet by 40 feet strip of garden in front of my house where we have a ‘Parijatha’ tree. ‘Parijatha’ is a mythologically famous tree. This is the tree that Lord Krishna fought over with Lord Indra, the lord of Heaven. This divine tree was brought to earth and gifted by Krishna to his favorite wife Satyabhama to the great envy of his other wives.
The ‘Parijatha’, a short tree, has willow like branchlets hanging down outward. The leaves are coarse and furry and so act like Velcro sometimes. The flowers are the most beautiful part of the tree, white in colour with deep orange red stalks and a pleasant smell. The fact that we have a decorative creeper trained up its trunk has made the tree look full and beautiful. When the stem and the thick branches are shook, the flowers are showered on the ground from where they are picked up.
The other plants in the garden, which used to be lush and green at one time, are now dying one by one _probably due to white ants and bandicoots.
One of the bandicoots who probably found the mortality rate rather high for gutter residents crossing the roads, started living in a burrow made under our compound wall quite close to the ‘Parijatha’ tree. Looking at the number of holes in the compound made by him, I guess the catacombs under the ground are quite spacious with the luxury of a separate exit for every compartment.
The bandicoot which would venture out only in the nights had become more daring. Incredibly enough, one day I saw the fellow coming out boldly, diving into my garbage bin (an open bucket) and carrying away a full plastic bag and disappearing into his hole. Probably he intended to enjoy the contents of the bag at leisure. Thus with home, food and safety guaranteed, I wouldn’t be surprised if he even ventured into the next aesthetic stage of collecting art pieces (Pyramid of needs? Must be),like the bird magpie which collects shiny beads to decorate its nest.
In the morning, I would be doing my exercises or on lazy days reading a book with my specs on, while waiting for the milk man. Once I heard his horn, I would come out and pick the ‘ Parijatha’ flowers till he arrived at my gate.
That particular day, as I was bending down and picking up the flowers from the ground, my neighbor who had borrowed my book COLORS, called out to me, wanting to return the book. As soon as I heard her voice, I straightened myself suddenly and stood up. But my head got entangled in the branchlets of ‘Parijatha’. I somehow, freed myself, collected the book and the milk satchets and went in.
Later, I realized that my favorite pair of specs was missing. I did remember having it on while reading the book and where could it have disappeared now? I gave a cursory look at the garden and returned to make a thorough search in all the usual places. When I could not find it, I put on my second pair and carried on.
When my house maid went to sweep the front yard, she found the specs thrown near the garbage bin. Before putting it into the bin, she fortunately thought of asking me whether I really wanted to dispose it off. I was so happy and relieved to see it! Obviously it must have fallen from my face when my head got entangled in the ‘Parijatha’ branches. How did it go from the branches to the garbage bin?
Just imagine; the specs was lying close to the bandicoot’s hole. He could have easily come out and taken it inside, I being none the wiser. Or perhaps, as Ramu remarked, “The power of the specs perhaps did not suit him!” Well, for whatever reason, it was lying unclaimed by my underground rodent resident and I thankfully took it back.