The rains had given Delhi residents some respite by bringing down the sultriness in the air. But the atmosphere in the small bathroom was tense. Beads of sweat dripped down Ranjit’s body, for he was too late in noticing the lizard on the ceiling. The fat, multi-coloured striped creature flicked its tongue. Ranjit gulped, and heard a soft splash in the commode below.
Memories of previous encounters with the reptile species thronged his mind. His first memory was his elder cousin holding a lizard by its tail to scare him. The lizard had let go of its tail when it was suspended over little Ranjit’s head. Then there was the time when he was unlocking the entrance door to his house and a lizard fell on his shoulder. His mother had scolded him when he recoiled in revulsion and slapped it away. It’s lucky to have a lizard fall on you, she’d said.
The most recent memory was when a lizard had dropped on his face when he laid down to sleep. It scurried away at once, but not before secreting some of its non-fatal poison as a parting gift. Ranjit’s face twitched uncontrollably the next morning. Some of the female customers in the Computer shop had found his twitching lips obscene. Others had laughed. His uncle asked him to take the day off.
Ranjit wiped his forehead. His eyes were locked on the lizard, but not in the way a tiger watches its prey. The lizard avoided his gaze, and all the reasoning he had received in the matter told him that it was probably more scared of him. But logic has a tendency of failing to come to aid in moments of panic.
His eyes followed the lizard as it ran across the ceiling and hid behind the water geyser on the adjacent wall. There was more distance between them now. Ranjit heaved a sigh of relief and heard a sound below.
There was banging on the door.
“Ranjit, I need to use the bathroom! You’ve been inside for a while now!” said Vipin. Ranjit didn’t say anything. He just watched the lizard emerge from behind the geyser and run away from the door. As it happened, it got closer to the man on the pot. He cursed the fact that his apartment had only one bathroom.
The banging got louder.
“Ranjit, come on! I can’t hold it in!”
The lizard jumped thrice, the number of times the door rattled. It was now on the other end of the wall next to the pot. Its tongue flicking seemed mischievous to Ranjit.
The silence prompted Vipin to continue banging the door.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop.
Paranoia gripped Ranjit tighter than his sweaty buttock gripped the pot. He turned the flush knob in a bid to calm Vipin. It worked, and just as well, for the lizard was just a couple of scuttles away now. Their eyes met for the first time, and Ranjit equipped himself with the water jet spray.
As another two minutes passed, Vipin slammed his fist on the door in desperation. It rattled not just the door but Ranjit and the lizard as well. The reptile dropped on the floor, and Ranjit got up and ran out the door.
He barely managed to pull his shorts up in time. It was only after his flatmate slammed the door that he realized he had never used the jet spray.
I have my own tragic memories with animals and insects, from spiders and cockroaches to dogs and monkeys. Do you have any?