It lay supine
On its hind
Tiny hands Enticed by ice-cream cone~
A good Lizard Once gave its Life to save an Orphan child
Jealous step mother Ugly as sin cajoled Unaware pretty Vera To drink poisoned milk
Delighted hungry child Stuck out an emaciated arm When Good Samaritan lizard Leapt to warn
Rattled child let milk cup Slip from grip, brave lizard Drowned in poisoned milk Saving Vera’s life
Chastened Vera, never Trusted step mom again Grief stricken she desperately tried to revive savior in vain
Vera now plays with garden Lizards, tenderly tending, Birds come for their share Of love and innocence
That is why lizards change Color when danger is near And are known as Chameleons dear~
(on way home from work I saw orange plastic lizard on pavement and recalled mom’s folklore..)
image is from google
these babies have had free ride for long. time to set them free. she researched , planned to nth degree. zeroed in on best of best finally. D-day had arrived. her only stipulation was to be an eye witness before signing on dot. Agreement was arrived at. Plastic surgeon skilfully reduced bust to relieve her back.
Bent on vengeance, Sheila thought “murder”. Finally she got the expected tweet. Her best friend Judas Judy would be arriving any minute. She had made her the laughing stock among their friends. With her toy gun cocked, she bided time. This would surely scare living daylights out of nervous Nellie JJ. Sheila savored the thought.
Overturned car teetered at cliff’s edge. Occupants, mother and toddler lay nearby. Help was on way. Weepy boy appeared to be consoled by his mother. Crowd parted as blaring ambulances neared. EMTs checked injured. They shook their heads sadly as the mother had died on the spot but miraculously the child had escaped unhurt.
Falling on head on icy driveway had caused Sam’s amnesia. Doctors assured Mona his memory would return. It was critical he recover fast. Company they’d built by hard work lay at brink of disaster. Their stock had fallen steadily in the market, investors were nervous. Only Sam knew safe’s combination containing those valuable bonds.
Their only daughter Tiffany was getting married today. It was four hours since she had gone to the beauty parlor and not returned. Marge, Tiffany’s mother felt a steady rise of hysteria. How would the senator and she face their VIP guest? Horrible thoughts like kidnapping or that Tiffany had runaway in panic, plagued her.
Lalaji aka Amar Nath sat on the park in deep thought. Then he smiled, coming to a decision. He put back his head, gave a guffaw and returned home with a spring in his steps.
Lalaji sold his compact two bedroom place, banked half and left for his village, to live out his remaining days basking in old memories in the mellow surroundings of the ancestral home.
Shalani, an childhood friend and favorite cousin saw him under the ancient banyan tree surrounded by children and came over to greet. They had been very close as children and soon Lalaji spilled his guts and wept. He missed his grandchildren left behind in the city. Hence he showered his love on the village kids who soon came to love him and addressed him as Grandpa. Shalini decided to teach Lalaji’s three sons and their wives a lesson. She had a wicked gleam in her eyes.
Shalini’s daughter Leela and her husband Ram were close neighbors of Lalaji’s sons Amit, Sumit and Ankit and she decided to call them for a party. Her wedding anniversary was within days and would be the perfect excuse. Once Lalaji’s family was within earshot, Leela said to a friend,” you know it is a real shame about poor Uncle Lala Amar Nath. His sons deprived him of all his worldly goods sucking him dry and then got rid of him like yesterday’s newspaper! The shameless ingrates. My mom Shalini told me that she was very happy that they did not come to know about uncle’s safe treasure”. Then, she glided off leaving Lalaji’s offspring aghast!
The mercenary sons scrambled to huddle in a corner and palaver over this new information nugget. Their wives urged the sons to seek out the old man and invite him back to the city after showing abject remorse and seeking a pardon in piteous tones. The old man was sure to melt as he doted on his grand-kids.
Lalaji was seated at his usual perch surrounded by children when three sets of feet halted near him. In unison they genuflected before him blubbering for forgiveness. Shalini was standing behind the banyan having come there on an errand and became privy to this show of crocodile tears. She snorted and laughed wickedly. Her plan had been foolproof after all. Now it will be smooth sailing for cousin Amar Nath she thought and left with a happy relieved frame of mind.
Lalaji resettled in his family’s bosom where all his three sons lived in the dream home he and his beloved wife Shanti had built and they’d inherited from him. Each son lived on a separate floor and had separate business as well. Hence life was a smooth sail.
Lalaji was made much of each week by a different son and his shameless effusive wife who’s eye was only on the main chance of knowing more about the safe treasure. Lalaji stayed mum after having been stung so bitterly by own flesh and blood. He enjoyed his grand children very much. They never tired of his folk lore and fairytales and tales from the Panchtantra and the great Hindu epics. Thus their morals and moral fiber strengthened by gentle advise imparted with love and humor that matched his twinkling happy eyes. He silently thanked the good fairy whoever he/she was that had wrought this miracle. His sunset years had become full of light.
Lalaji had only hours to live. His family gathered around his bedside. Finally the youngest grandchild of five egged on by his mother asked grandpa about his Safe Treasure. Grandpa smiled and all the puzzle pieces fell in place. He remembered Shalini, his cousin called him a safe treasure- full of sound advice and a treasure trove of folktales for tender ears. Silently he thanked his beloved benefactor.
In a firm voice he said, “Listen children, the safe treasure you seek is me. Cousin Shalini always called me a “safe treasure” as she loved my stories that I weaved constantly and which she never tired of. Regarding any cash and valuables, I have in the bank a nest egg of a quarter million which I leave up to you three to divide equitably amongst you. However, if you can give me a proper sendoff in the traditional Hindu way and immerse my ashes in the holy Ganges River, your mother’s soul will be at peace. I do not care one way or another. Also if you my three sons, can on a regular basis visit a home for the aged and bring some cheer in the lives of the forsaken all your sins will be washed away. Your children will benefit immensely from such trips as well. I leave the decision up to you all. That is all I have to say to you”. Then he turned his face towards the wall and journeyed on.
** Pañcatantra, Sanskrit: ‘Five Principles’) is an ancient Indian collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in frame story format.
The safe was opened finally.
Last week the funeral had been conducted as befitting a much loved father and husband by the grief stricken wife Sheila and twin offspring Yogi and Yamuna, both doctors. The deceased was one of Jaipur’s top industrialists. His name was Yograj Sisodia.
Dr. Yamuna was short and stocky like her dad with gorgeous flowing hair and limpid clear eyes that mesmerized. Her other attractive feature was a tinkling laughter which reminded of soft musical notes. Other than that, she was ordinary in looks department but was a gifted general surgeon.
Dr. Yogi her fraternal twin was classically tall, fair and handsome. He had taken after their mom Sheila who was a known beauty in her heyday. Handsome doctors attract more nurses than their counterparts and Yogi was no exception. A graveyard of broken hearts could be chalked up to his name. He was an incorrigible flirt. His sis warned that one day he was going to fall flat for someone who would not give him the time of day. He merely snorted. The siblings however loved each other very much. Yogi was an interventional cardiologist.
The family was quite well off and hence inheritance was the last thing on their minds. It was more curiosity to know what their beloved (dad/partner) had had to hide from his family. The attorney came over with the key to the safe and they gathered in their father’s study room. It was his private den and only place that was taboo to all, without exception. Their dad even cleaned the place himself. Various properties had already been distributed per deceased’s last will and testament. The only item left was the safe.
Sheila said “I wonder what Yograj hid from us all these years? Yogi, Yamuna, do you guys have any inkling?” Both shook their heads equally mystified. Impatience and curiosity were palpable. Per instructions of the deceased, the attorney opened safe and left them alone. His work done, he quietly saw himself out of the mansion.
With rising excitement Sheila opened the safe door. In it covered by an antique red velvet table cloth, edged by an exquisite gold filigree lace was an antique Chinese box with carved dragons. It was one those trick puzzle boxes and they had a tough time finding the secret drawer as it definitely contained something which rattled when gently shaken.
Yamuna said, “Ma please hand it to me. Let me try“. Skilful surgeon hands gently tapped the mouths of each carved dragon. Finally the left side gave a clicking sound and a drawer sprang open.
Wrapped in a scented embroidered kerchief with royal insignia was a huge blue topaz the size of a small egg. It had to be priceless. Their collective mouths fell open. There was a sepia tinted old newspaper cutting under the stone. It spoke of a daring theft of the legendary Topaz from the royalpalaceofJaipur.
This stone was, per the legend stolen from an ancient temple and whosoever possessed it- misfortune would befall his immediate family. The temple thief had sold the gem to the royal jeweler for a mere pittance and disappeared. He had met with a freak accident and died on the spot. The royal jeweler made a forehead ornament for the royal princess and presented it to his highness the Raja of Jaipur. The jewel had next been stolen by an ancestor of Yograj Sisodia called Pratap Singh as he had easy access, being the chief treasurer of the palace.
“This topaz is driving me crazy. I have to have it or I will go crazy. Please gods either free me from this obsession or help me acquire it by fair means or foul”.
The minute Pratap had laid eyes on the topaz he had been hypnotized by its beauty and was driven to do the unthinkable. He seemed to be possessed by the evil spirit of stone itself.
Once the stone came in his possession, bad luck came along with it. His prize winning horses suddenly broke their limbs and an ancient Peepal tree inexplicably shriveled and died. Pratap Singh realized his error but it was too late.
Repentant and grief stricken, in order to make amends, Pratap Singh performed various rituals and tantric remedies with help of knowledgeable priests to appease the malefic planets and demi gods. Then per the sage’s instructions, he placed the stone in this box along with its history to be passed on to his bloodline. Tide of bad luck had been successfully averted.
Sheila and the twin doctors were shaken, enchanted and fascinated by their discovery. Knowing one another well, they decided to gift the topaz to the national museum where it truly belonged, unanimously.
**Hindus worship Peepal tree like a deity, without having any knowledge about its history & origin. Check out a few interesting legends about it. Peepal Tree- The Sacred Fig (written for a challenge- using “safe” word in a short story 1000 words max)
The couple met as planned near the park’s third bench. There was a heated argument and woman said “I’ve already given you half in advance! I will pay you rest after you complete the job. Do not call me until you’ve finished it!”
Yogi sat on the bench but for all they cared he was a piece of furniture! He looked like a washed out junkie, best ignored.
Yogi quickly taped the whole meeting on his camera. Then, after reversing his jacket, combing his hair and with a scarf round his neck, he was a changed man! After all he was a famous detective who had honed his talent for disguise into a fine art. Like a shadow he weaved in and out of gatherings with no one the wiser. He was a great success in his game.
Raj Kumar was a makeup man. He fell into this job by chance. His mother Neeta was famous movie star Ruby’s housekeeper and took him with her as the madam did not mind it. Ruby often threw away her makeup after a single application and Raj would retrieve it. He loved to draw and paint and once his mother allowed him to apply makeup on her as Ruby had asked her to be present for her birthday party. Neeta looked so stunning that Ruby noticed her makeup and asked about it. When she came to know young Raj had applied it, she asked him to do her face as an experiment. Raj enhanced Ruby’s already gorgeous looks in such a way that even her agent whistled. Raj’s career was decided. Neeta’s only stipulation was that he had to study side by side and Ruby felt the same.
Raj had lost his father in infancy and mother and son had a close relationship. Neeta’s widowed aunt took care of their house and watched Raj whenever needed. She loved young Raj as her own son. Raj fell in love with a classmate Yogita and married her as soon as they both turned twenty-one. Yogi came a year after and their family was complete.
Yogi went home and relaxed in his swanky apartment. He had several places of residence and carried many passports and aliases. They came in handy in his line of work. The only way people could contact him was via his front man, business partner Andy who had an office in the business district. Due to word of mouth and goodwill their business flourished by leaps and bounds. They had ethics and were very discreet. Andy helped whenever Yogi needed a second person. They were very close. Both were a mere twenty five in age.
The bonus from his recent job was substantial. The woman was his client’s rival who wanted to access his quotation on a prestigious contract bid. Yogi’s legwork had not only disqualified but also blacklisted her firm.
He wished his parents and aunty were alive to share his happiness. They had died in a horrific accident after performing the last rites of great aunty (Neeta’s aged aunt). A bus had lost control and swerved into their car, killing Raj and Yogita instantly. Yogi was spared as he had final exams and had stayed back with granny Neeta His most prized possessions were an ornate handcrafted cane which had a sword inside. It had been used in a blockbuster movie and had been gifted to his dad Raj by the movie director. The cactus was made of glass and was exquisite. It looked so real. His parents had bought this for Neeta who had a green thumb and loved cacti best. Neeta often told Yogi that he should be tough like a cactus- strong, resilient and a survivor. On his eighteenth birthday, she had gifted him with her glass cactus as Yogi loved it very much. Whenever he missed his loved ones, he would sit for hours in front of their family portrait together with the cane and the glass cactus by his side. He had many such blue moments. Much against her will granny Neeta had allowed Yogi to bring a puppy home as that would take the edge off his loneliness. His friend Andy often came over to spend the night with him. Time had flown and now his pup Rocky was seven years old and weighed sixty pounds and was 25” tall. Granny Neeta was pushing eighty six and wanted Yogi to get married and settle down. She kept saying she would die in peace once he had settled down with a bride of his own choice.
Yogi was playing with Rocky on the beach when a Frisbee came flying and hit him on the head. A beautiful vision came running and abjectly begged his pardon. Yogi’s moth fell open! The young lady was the spitting image of his late beautiful mom! He shook his head to clear it and promptly stuck out his hand for an intro. The beauty’s name was Ankita and she was visiting her cousins for a week. She was from Delhi.
Yogi promptly invited Ankita for dinner as a price for bopping him on the head. Reluctantly she agreed. Over dinner, much to their delight they discovered they had much in common. At close range, she had a strong resemblance to Yogita, Yogi’s mom, yet she was unalike her too. For next seven days, they met daily and became quite comfortable with one another. Yogi proposed and she accepted. She could easily transfer to a Bombay branch of her firm. Rest is history….