walk a-musing

Sunday, April 02, 2006


In a few days, my son V turns ten! Just the other day, when he was 4 or 5, and was pestering me for a pet, I had promised to get him one on his tenth Birthday. The reasoning was that , no pet could be happy, cooped up in our 21st floor apartment in Singapore. In a few years, we would go back to India, and live in a house. Also, at the age of ten, he would be old enough to take some resposibility in caring for the pet. Perhaps, I even secretly hoped that if we put it off long enough he would grow out of this fancy for pets. V has neither forgotten my promise, nor has he lost interest in pets.

I have never taken care of an animal before. Ofcourse, that does not mean that I don't understand how he feels. When I was about eight, I desperately wanted a cow. It was all very simple. I would keep her in the shed behind the house. I would keep the hay in the loft. I just had to learn how to milk the cow, which I was sure, I would master in a few days. When no other line of reasoning worked, my mother told me that the red oxide floor of the shed was too smooth for the hooves of the cow, she would slip and fall. My (then) simple mind accepted that and I gave up the idea of owning a cow. Ofcourse I still love cows, and during the summer holidays in Mysore, when a wandering cow smells the water melon we are eating and ambles towards our house, I like to give her the thick skin of the melon and watch her as she eats it with a dreamy, faraway look in her eyes and a juicy "crrunch...., crrunch....". I nurse a small hope that one day I will own a tiny farm and a line of adorable cows.....

Back to my son. When bigger animals were ruled out, V asked for fish. In a moment of motherly weakness, I brought home a fish bowl and a couple of red coloured little fish, fish food, a net, and whatever else the shopkeeper insisted were absolutely necessay, to care for the fish. V was supremely happy. The bowl of fish sat on the dining table when he ate, shifted to his room when he played, stood on the table beside his bed when he slept. Things were great for a couple of weeks. Then one morning we found one fish dead, and in a few days the other. Naturally, my son was very upset. He could not understand why the fish had to die. I said the space in the bowl was not enough for them, and perhaps they were not happy with the chlorine in the tap water, which we used to fill the bowl. I said no to buying any more fish. We shouldn't bring home and kill the poor creatures.

On our next trip to the botanical gardens, V took a bottle and the net with him. With me hanging on to him from behind, he diligently collected dirty water and some little swimming things from a pond. He was very happy that he now had some fish, which he would keep in the water they were used to. They would surely survive. We came home and observed the little swimmers. I felt they were tadpoles. He was sure they were fish. I said we would soon find out, they would develop legs. But they died.

My son walked around unhappily for a few days. One fine rainy evening, he ran into the house and took a small plastic box and ran out again. The next thing I knew, I had a snail, lovingly called Melville, on my hands. The next few days saw me washing and tearing lettuce at lunch time, not for my salad, but for Melville. I told V that Melville was lonely, it was not good to confine him in that box. I hadn't chosen my words well. That evening, Melville got company. I cleaned the box, and made salad for two snails from that day. Taking pity on them, I sometimes spread a paper on the center table and allowed them to wander around for a while, much to the disgust of my friends. One day, V saw me washing their box wearing gloves and with wrinkled nose. He finally took pity on me and took the snails out and set them free. He occasionally came back from play saying "I met Melville today"

After this there were a series of other creepy crawlies. He once brought home a grass hopper and played with it in the balcony for a few days, till it found a way out and flew away. Another day, he found a cocoon on the stem of a plant and brought the stem home. We put it in the empty fish bowl and covered it with a net. I will never forget the look of exultation on V's face, when he came home from school, and found the cocoon open and a dull brown coloured little butterfly flying around the bowl. He voluntarily took the bowl out and set the butterfly free. Next were three spiders in a jar. They were with us till the bigger spider ate the smaller two.

The experience with the fish(?) from the botanical gardens had left V with a desire to grow tadpoles. On the next trip to Mysore, he got his willing aunt to bring home a terrarium and spent the next day adding mud, arranging stones and planting some small plants in it. Next, we had a dozen tadpoles swimming in the water in the terrarium. Much of V's time was spent counting the tadpoles hidden behind the stones and leaves, making sure they were all alive, and observing them with a lens. To his glee some of them soon developed little legs, their tails disappeared, and one day we found a tiny frog sitting on one of the plants, looking out curiously at the world. We quickly tied a net round the mouth of the terrarium, to prevent it escaping, Next day when we were getting ready to leave Mysore, there was another little frog looking out at us from the top of a plant. V did try to sell the idea of taking them with us, but didn't succeed. The next thing we heard from Mysore was that the frogs had escaped despite the net and everyone at home was on their hands and knees trying to catch them. Even a week later someone would come upon one of the little fellows in some unexpected place.

NOW. V wants a REAL pet. Real, according to him being, one that either meows or barks. Heellppp!!!!


  • At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    nice post! This reminds me of my husband narrating his childhood stories about a fish pond. Something similar happened and the fishes died and left my hubby upset!
    I remember when I was young during our summer hols, my older cousins (all boys) were checking out the heartbeat of dying snail.eeks!


  • At 9:57 PM, Blogger Shruthi said…

    Lovely! :D

    What about the spiders that he tried to observe through lens, but burnt them instead? :O

    Cow! :))))) I happened to be drinking water when I read that, and right now, I am wiping the monitor and keyboard clean.

    A pet? All the best :O

  • At 2:25 AM, Blogger Akshay said…

    good post
    i'll see to it that my mother doesn't get the wind of this post.

  • At 5:16 AM, Blogger k'dar said…

    cool!! and a nice one too. simple, can see u'r face narating the stoty(think of a hindi filmi letter)while reading it.

    suits very well over a bowl of cereal at breakfast. way to go girl!! keep it coming.
    p.s get V a retriever or any hound.

  • At 6:27 AM, Anonymous bru said…

    very entertaining post!

    But the author seems to have conveniently forgotten that she had secretly brought home snake eggs as well as a dead baby snake home when she was a little girl !

  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger Anu said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 10:25 PM, Anonymous sapphire said…

    Do u have a place big enough to accomodate a doggie. If yes please do your son a huge favour and adopt a pooch from SPCA. Your son is a sensitive soul, which I am sure reflects the parenting he received. and its a pleasure to read abt kids who care about lesser beings.
    Huge hug for your sonny

  • At 10:37 PM, Blogger Nirwa said…


    V is soooo cute!!! How else do you explain his fascinating adventures with grasshoppers and snails!! You have to be a child to truly enjoy nature.. :)

    I have always been afraid of animals/insects.. few of my relatives own a "dog".. When a friend recently got himself a dog, I suggested him to name it Himesh (Himesh Reshammiya) or Meow (yes, a dog named Meow) but alas, he would not listen to me.. sigh

    When you do get a pet, and need some suggestions naming it, do let me know.. (wink)


  • At 11:14 PM, Blogger Akshay said…

    i have tried millepedes and fishes.
    once even a magpie robin built a nest in our house.
    but my mom says NO to a dog or a cat.

  • At 12:58 AM, Blogger Anu said…

    Vidya, thankyou! hearbeats of snails! hehhe, when they heard you 'eek' they did it all the more, I am sure!

    Shruthi, thanks...hehe yes, spiders or were they ants?

    Akshay, Thanks. Why, have you been asking your mom for a pet?

    K'dar, Thanks! A hound?? Have mercy on me!

    Bru....thankyou...okok will write a separate small blog on that!

    9:09 AM

  • At 1:06 AM, Blogger Anu said…

    Sapphire, Thankyou for the comment. I had not thought of the SPCA! Will look into it!

    Nirwa, Sure, I will! Thanks!

    Akshay, I understand you, and I understand your mom!

  • At 1:51 AM, Blogger chitra said…

    Ha ha ha ha ...good one :) !

  • At 9:24 PM, Anonymous charu said…

    I felt so nostalgic reading about V and his pet hunt ! Seems like yesterday when we were neighbours in singapore . Hey, you havent mentioned about keeping Sniggys fishes or Radhika keeping your fishes when you were on a holiday!keep writing and a very happy 10th birthday to V-in advance !

  • At 11:15 AM, Blogger Anu said…

    Chitra, thankyou!

    Charu, Also remember Radhika secretly running to the pet shop to buy replacement for the dead fish in her daughter's fish bowl!

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