Thursday, June 9, 2011

Woozles Welcome

" You know you can't stay here anymore," I said sternly to a large millipede that had ensconced itself in my bathroom, nudging it with my foot. "This is not a salubrious place for you." In turn, it curled up sulkily and refused to communicate any more. I picked it up and put it back outside and it refused to say goodbye.

The next morning this routine was repeated thrice, once for an earthworm that had crawled up the wall, once for an unnamed innocuous insect that pretended it was a baby scorpion (but it didn't fool me) and once for a firefly that had spent the night in our bedroom.

"Why do they have to come?" I asked my husband in exasperation. "Why, when there are acres of trees outside, must they crawl into my house and hang around until I throw them out?"

"It's just a welcoming sort of house," he replied, "Especially for woozles".

Now I don't claim to know a woozle when I see one. It's hard to identify, as Pooh would tell you. I do know that most of the relatives who visit here seem to spend the first few days eating and sleeping and reading in copious amounts. Perhaps this amounts to woozling. But that's not the point.

That evening we had the rains and sure enough there arrived a swarm of flying ants. Not diffusing inside and hitting the lights like they do in most houses. No, these ants were here to stay and they meant business. As they have been doing in the past week, they headed straight to the speakers of our music system, crawled into a hole behind them and made frenzied preparations to line it with dust balls and make a comfortable little room for themselves.

"What does one do with them?" I wondered. If Mma Ramotswe had been here, she might have advised me on the edibility (?) of these. Were they the delicious mopani worms that solved the protein problems of southern Africa? I checked on the net and realized they were not. Anyway, it was irrelevant. One could bite the head off an unwelcome guest but this was taking things too far. I dismissed the idea. Anyway, these ants mysteriously vanish during the day and don't seem to affect the sound system, so I may as well let sleeping ants lie.

"Swalpa adjust maadi," the inherent slogan of this state ("Please adjust a little"), used by one and all - by the maids when they are taking leave, by the carpenters when they wrongly nail a shelf to the wall, by the auto driver who parks such that your car can't get out - if they can use it, I thought, why can't the insects and animals? So the next time I look at that tiny bee hive hanging precariously on my window pane or the bandicoot that comes up at night to revel on the terrace or the innumerable ant armies of all shapes and sizes that are marching through my rooms during the rainy season, I feel them all looking at me, shrugging their shoulder-equivalents and saying, "Swalpa adjust maadi," before continuing with whatever it was I had interrupted them in.

1 comment:

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