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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When bravado turned sour

When two incorrigible brothers discovered a fat lizard on a tree and were determined to see who wounded it first, they were unprepared for its arrogance and surprise reaction, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza.
Two brash boys were playing when they spotted a bluish lizard spread boisterously on a tree, enjoying the noonday sun. Yuko, the taller of the two, rollicked at the discovery, his finger pointing it out hyperactively. He searched about for a stick, his earnest face twisting with impatience.

“Gather as many stones,” he ordered his kid brother, Kato and hurried off. Yuko soon returned with a crude thing that turned out to be a sling. His face brightened up when he looked up and saw the fat lizard still on the tree. Suddenly, the wild creature lifted its head and stared at him hard and suspiciously, like he was a repulsive intruder, its bulgy eyes roving sinisterly.

For some elusive reason, Yuko wished it could slip into its crevice. He hurled a little stone at the cold-blooded creature and it didn’t budge. He concluded it had guts and was daring him for combat! The boys went on rampage, flinging at it, but the lizard was an artful dodger; it kept tilting this and that way and ducking with uncanny precision while the shots whizzed by.

The sun came down even harder; sweat poured from the boys’ faces as they pelted the defiant reptile in a flurry of turns, focused on having its head smashed. But the tiny monster was too wily to be downed. It briefly hoisted itself up on its tail and moved its head with arrogance, as if telling its little enemies, “This is my fortress, where no man can take me on and win!”

As he picked the second last of the stones, Yuko, who had missed for the umpteenth time, finally said, a clue of resignation in his voice, “If I don’t knock it off this time around, I’ll go home.” Collecting himself and inhaling mighty deeply, his right eye closed like a soldier about to pull a trigger, Yuko unleashed a hot shot that struck a tiny portion of the tail, stunning the lizard.

“Darn, I got you!” Yuko cried, triumphantly.

“Darn, you didn’t,” Kato rejoined, “It’s still on the tree!”

Yuko almost slapped him, but remembering that his brother had always been naughty with words, handed him the sling instead, saying sarcastically, “You, little sir, let’s see you knock it down with your enviable marksmanship then!”

“No,” said Kato, resolutely, “I would rather wrench it off that tree with my bare hands; I’ll make it shed its ugly skin and chop off its balls,” he paused for effect “And have them for supper!” Yuko doffed his imaginary hat at the boy’s exaggerated bravado and surreal sense of humour. What did the seven-year-old know about “balls” anyway?

With a devilish smile, Kato picked the last stone and painstakingly put it in position. The lizard, watching him and still smarting from the scrape of Yuko’s earlier shot, flared and inflated its rugged bulk and as the boy drew closer, his hand slowly and steadily pulling the strap before releasing the missile, the lizard made its lunge and grabbed Kato by the neck.

The boy fell and emitted a cry of desperation, then quailed and kicked. The lizard was locked into his neck now, its rough tail oscillating ferociously. Yuko yanked it off, leaving scratches like tiny trenches from which blood oozed. He stooped and turned Kato over, examining the frighteningly swollen patch on his neck. There was a little foam at the corners of his mouth, his tongue was sticking out and he looked like a corpse.

“Oh God – he is dead,” he cried in panic. A certain gentleman happened to be driving by and Yuko flagged him down. Kato was rushed to the nearby hospital, where it was discovered he was not dead. Rather, he had fainted from the shock of the ugly lizard flinging itself upon his neck!

--Sunday Monitor, August 1, 2010