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Satire | You can’t win against a reptile

I know I said ‘to be continued’ at the end of my previous column. But tomorrow is Independence Day, and I feel patriotically obliged to talk to you about things like freedom, independence, and how India discarded the yolk of colonialism (my grandfather gave up eggs altogether). Also I don’t feel like talking about lizards all over again. The very topic makes me uncomfortable and depressed. If I anyway have to feel uncomfortable and depressed, I might as well talk about the state of the nation, our economy, politics, judiciary, electoral bonds, collapse of institutions, etc. Okay wait, this is actually more depressing. Let’s stick to lizards.

Where were we? Yes, the electronic lizard repellant Nomo-Liza. It kept me awake at night and the lizards were loving it. So I ordered the spray, Poda-Saniyan. The friend who recommended it told me it’s the lizard equivalent of the chemical weapons Assad used in Syria but better — it was eco-friendly because it was herbal.

I checked the label for usage directions. It said: ‘Spray on the surfaces where lizards roam. Poda-Saniyan will not kill the lizards but repel them’. Not being a lizard myself, I wasn’t cognizant of the kinds of places where they like to hang out. After consulting Google, I sprayed Poda-Saniyan at all the entry and exit points of the house. I also sprayed it behind the book case, on the window sill, under the sink, behind the shoe rack.

That evening, I got home from work and was about to ring the doorbell when it hit me — the smell. It was the kind of rancidness you get when you blend rotten eggs with eucalyptus oil, add a cup of freshly produced cow dung, and boil the mixture in a vat of mouthwash.

This column is a satirical take on life and society

No effect on lizards

Wife opened the door wearing a mask.

“What did you do?” she demanded. “What is this smell?”

“Poda-Saniyan,” I said.

“Excuse me?”

“It’s the lizard repellant,” I said. “I sprayed a little here and there before leaving for work.”

“A little? Or did you empty a whole tanker of it?”

“Just a few drops,” I said. “We humans are so much bigger than a lizard. If we find its smell so overpowering, imagine its effect on lizards!”

“I have people from work coming over tomorrow,” Wife said, eyes scanning the doorway for any intruders.

“Relax,” I said. “Google says the smell goes away in 24 hours unless you spray it again.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I said, “Don’t worry.”

The next day, when I got back from work, I could smell Poda-Saniyan in the parking lot. Had the entire Society — taking inspiration from me — started using it? If so, they better acknowledge my contribution in the next general body meeting.

As I climbed the stairs and reached our apartment, the smell was like a wall I had to break down and walk through. Wife opened the door holding a hanky to her nose, which was already under two masks. But even through three layers of facial buffers, I could sense her fury. She had thought of cancelling her do but moved it to a restaurant — a decision that had caused her considerable stress as she had to solve a complicated logistical puzzle under time pressure in order for all her guests to make it despite last minute change of venue.

Horrible idea

I held up my hands like Al Pacino. “I didn’t spray after yesterday, I swear I didn’t.”

“I know,” she snapped. “But this horrible spray was your idea!”

“But how come the smell is stronger today than yesterday?”

Wife sighed. I knew then it was Kattabomman. He was fascinated by Poda-Saniyan. I recalled his excitement as he followed me around, pointing out lizard hide-outs, as I went from room to room with the spray. Apparently, late in the afternoon, when his mother was away and his nanny was asleep, he had spotted a lizard under the sofa. And like one  mundhiri kottai, he had picked up Poda-Saniyan and followed the lizard around the house, wielding the spray like an AK-47. He’d kept ‘firing’ it until the 500 ml canister ran out of ammunition.

“Did the lizard leave the house?” I asked.

Katta shook his head. “It ran into the bedroom. It climbed the bed.”

“Don’t tell me you sprayed the bed?”

Katta’s face — juxtaposed with Wife’s expression — said it all.

“Where do we sleep now?” I said.

“I’m getting late,” Wife said. “I’m not coming back.”

“What?! You are leaving me because I bought a lizard repellant?”

“I’m staying the night at Dad’s,” she said. “You bring Katta with you.”

We moved to my in-laws’ place for the night. I could picture the lizards in our living room giving each other high-fives as we scooted. They now had the whole house to themselves. Moral of the story: you can’t win against a reptile.

The author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

sampath.g@thehindu.co.in


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Printable version | Aug 26, 2022 11:49:15 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/satire-you-cant-win-against-a-reptile/article65745472.ece