Monday, July 2, 2007

why the ostrich has a bald head and other questions?

I wrote this story a good while ago, it is an adaptation from kipling's 'just so stories'. I intended this to be a children's tale... but the story decided to tell itself...

In the high and far of times, O best beloved, there lived an elephant, wrinkled like a prune with a bump for her nose. They called her Chinnamooku, for she was little. In her wrinkled belly were a lot of questions, all wriggling to break free, Chinnamooku was full of insatiable curiosity you see.

She asked her aunt, the Ostrich why she had a bald head, her uncle the Giraffe, why his neck was so long, her cousin, the Cheetah, why he was so spotty, the Snail, why she carried her house around, until she got spanked by each and every one of them.
But Chinnamooku’s insatiable curiosity grew larger with each spanking.
One day, best beloved, a new wriggly, extra wiggly question jiggled in her belly.
“What does a crocodile have for dinner?”, then everybody said, “Husssshh”, in loud stern voices and spanked her immediately!

You see, in a pond nearby, there lived Morattu Modalai. Morattu Modalai, was a crocodile who wore a frown. He was an unusual croc and not one bit like a rock.
They say, he wore a smile once, until one night, his smile slipped, somersaulted and became a big, clinging frown.
Best beloved, let’s call the croc Morattan for short, shall we?

Morattan had big, bushy eyebrows, like two, sleepy, fuzzy caterpillars catching a nap in the sun. In his favorite corner, he perched, swishing his tail, surveying his pond… always in the same corner, did he perch, best beloved!

Chinnamooku, meanwhile, could not contain her insatiable curiosity any longer and set out to find out what the crocodile has for dinner. She took with her seventeen bananas and four melons, which she ate on her way.

Now, you understand, O best beloved, until that day, Chinnamooku had never seen a crocodile and did not know what one was like. On her way, she met Paambu, all of 62 meters of coils and hisses. She finished her fourteenth banana and threw it way, for she could not pick it up, and asked Paambu, “have you seen a crocodile?”
Then her insatiable curiosity got the better of her and many questionlets wiggled in her belly. “Why is your tongue forked?” she asked.

Yes! Best beloved, she got spanked. How clever of you to guess?!
So she went on her way, swaying her ears until she stepped on a big log of wood in the shallow end of the pond. The log blinked an eye and raised a shaggy, fuzzy, black eyebrow.
Can you imagine, Morattan’s surprise when he saw a little, dumpy elephant with a bump for a nose and a question-filled wiggly, belly?
“Excuse me, said Chinnamooku, as politely as she could, “but have you seen a crocodile in these parts?” Morattan raised his other caterpillary eyebrow at what he thought was a rather foolish question, and also his flaily, scaly, tail for effect.
But best beloved, Chinnamooku was not scared, she had never seen a crocodile before, remember? “Oh, your smile has slipped and somersaulted”, she said, much to Morattan’s surprise. Nobody had looked at him long enough to make such a remark, no one else had been so unafraid, you see?
That angered Morattan Modalai, so he opened his jaws wide and clamped them on Chinnamooku’s bumpy nose, thundering in his deepest, frowny rumble, “I AM THE CROCODILE!”

How do I describe to you what happened next, best beloved? Chinnamooku pulled and pulled and Morattan pulled and pulled.
The coconut trees that lined the pond quivered, the water in the pond churned and turned. For seven months and three nights, Chinnamooku and Morattan pulled and pulled.
Until one day, they both fell back in exhaustion. The water turned still and the coconut trees stood up straight.
Chinnamooku sat on her haunches with a bump and looked at her reflection, her jaw fell open and all the wriggly questions in her belly poured out in a tumbled heap. Her nose had stretched and pulled till it looked like a trunk!
She could flick it around and shoo a fly, pick up more melons to eat, use it like a straw and drink water, even throw slush over herself to cool off a bit.
Morattan Modalai, sat back on his thorny tail and looked down into his pond. The somersaulted smile had somersaulted again. His frown was replaced by a grinny smile.
They studied each other in the stillness of the once churned, much turned, pond.

I don’t know how the story ends, best beloved, some say that Chinnamooku and Morattan Modalai looked at one another for so long that time turned them into stone, the tumbled questions were picked up by the wind and scattered onto the four corners of the earth, some others say that Chinnamooku and Morattan each went their way and the waters of the pond remain calm until this day.

That, best beloved is the story of Chinnamooku and Morattan Modalai as I choose to tell it, while the wind still whispers, and an odd ripple lingers in the pond….

3 comments:

Kanna said...

Ek dum masssssst !!!!!Hahahaha.... chinnamook....moratta modalai !!!! Wah !!!

Gauri said...

Really, really nice story!
I'm Pilo's friend, had met you in Abad once...
Hope life is good these days!

Kavita Arvind said...

hey gauri!! its super to hear from you!! thank you!!