Monday, September 20, 2010

A near murder in our midst

Emma and Gabe swim near the elephants
The day drew to an end on our African savannah, we had met with healers, dined with lions, swum in lagoons (albeit modern and very nice lagoons) watched over by deer, zebras and elephants.

The night prior, we had been delighted with 2 lovely nocturnal visitors in our thatched roofing – 2 enormous chit chaks, also known as geckos and lizards. I am sure there’s a difference between breeds and sizes, however for the purpose of this story, we’ll call them geckos. Completely unaware of them, there was a scuffling on the roof and a very loud “echko” called out. We all looked up to see the 2 chasing a moth around the roof.

Swimming watched by deers
Gazing up at the thatching, we were enthralled by the way their colours changed to match what ever they were standing on. The night darkened and they moved behind the beams, leaving only the occasional plop of offerings down to us – we placed paper over the tops of our drinking glasses and toddled off to bed.

Coming into our room tonight, there was the familiar calling card on the arm of the chair from our nocturnal visitors that had clearly been active for at least some of the day also.

The children were tired out and we retired to our lodge rooms for a peaceful shared family meal and some television movie watching.

We ended up watching some silly sit com on television about a murder that was taking place, as life took a turn to imitate art at the moment of the television murder, there was a loud scuffling and banging on our roof.

We looked up to see the larger gecko (around 30cm long) had hold of the smaller one (around 20cm) biting him on the back of the neck so hard his head was bent backwards and he began squealing. At first we thought it may have been a mating ritual, but it soon became apparent that something more sinister was a foot.
“Ah well”, Daryll explained to the children, “such is the way of the wild, the roof is around 20ft up and there’s nothing we can do about it”

The children sadly gazed up to the roof as the large gecko starting swinging the smaller squealing gecko around.

“No daddy”, Emma shrieked “you just CAN’T let him die”

Little chik chats / geckos (colour changers)
Daryll explained that he simply wasn’t tall enough to do anything and shrugged his shoulders.

Gabriel began running around the room looking for something, anything that could save the gecko.
All that was about was a few lemon slices which we aimed (rather badly it turned out) and threw trying to knock him off or at the least distract him to let go and allow the little one the briefest moment to escape its peril.

You may not know, but I am actually quite famous (in our household) for my lack of throwing aim

Once Daryll & his mate were having a cup of tea on the balcony and I walked out with food scraps to throw over the balcony (we tossed them over for the possums and birds to eat), Daryll saw me raise my arms to throw and leapt under the table screaming to his friend “duck, mate!”

His friend looked at me and said to Daryll “Oh, come on, I think you are being bit melodramatic how bad can she be?” Daryll shrugged and stayed under the table. His friend smiled at me and stayed sitting.

I raised my arm full of fruit scraps, deliberately aimed in completely the other direction, so as to miss him and thwack – papaya seeds dripped from his ear and ran from his chin.

He looked at me dumbstruck and then to Daryll who shrugged and crept out from under the table.

An hour or so later I came out again with more food scraps and burst out laughing as both men scrambled for the depths of the table.

Another time, I threw an entire bowl of food scraps out and Daryll entered the kitchen just as they bounced into the roof of the balcony and splattered back into the kitchen completely covering me (and the kitchen floor) with scraps.

Back to Africa in Bali and the tale of our murderous geckos, there I was with 2 screaming children, a shrugging husband and a bowl of lemon slices. I hurl 1 into the air aiming for the gecko, naturally it bounced across the roof missing him by about 3 metres. “What are you trying to do?” Daryll asked, “well, I don’t have anything else Daryll, so I must try this”

Daryll sniggered as another wildly thrown piece of lemon bounced off the window in the lounge (instead of the roof over the bedroom).

As the little one shrieked again, Emma burst into tears and tried one last plea to Daryll “every pet I have ever had has died and I just can’t bear to see another die now”

What is it about little girls pleading to their daddies that brings out the protector in men, the raw passion that evokes the need to do just about anything that is possible and a few things that aren’t usually possible just to protect ‘their girls’.

The army couldn’t have rallied forth a more efficient task force, Daryll & Gabe banded together, Gabe calls out “we can do it dad” and races into the bathroom, he comes back dragging some bamboo tied up with reed (meant for drying towels), yet to the 2 soldiers it now certainly looked like a bush ladder.

Passing it to Daryll with a foot on the floor to stop it sliding, Daryll scales the make shift ladder with the precision of a secret service officer.

He calls out to Emma to place cushions on the floor to soften the fall of the gecko and shimmies to the top, with outstretched arms he is still about 2 metres too short, wildly banging the roof pole just makes the gecko hang on tighter and the little one squeals again.

“Daddy, you just have to save him” Emma cries out.

Daryll looks around and sees a large African pot filled with huge umbrellas (I know they are very large as I found out last night walking in the rain, they don’t fit through the passageway beams, I walked through holding the brolly, but it didn’t – result – bent brolly and sore bottom from flying backwards under the beam – you know if I had a camera man following me around I am sure I would have been on funny TV shows and probably quite wealthy by now)

“Pass me that brolly” he shouts with great authority,  reaching up he swings it wildly at the geckos, thwack – the little one goes flying through the air, lands (somehow backwards and it wasn’t even me doing the throwing)on the roof of the bedroom and scurries away over the beams as fast as his little legs would go,

Daryll is sure it gave him a tiny wink as it scurried away.

A great team - Daryll and Gabe
Looking up, the big gecko seemed rather confused as to what had just occurred, colours faded back into the wood grain pattern as it slowly slunk behind the beam with just the tip of his nose poking out, laying in wait for perhaps that large moth it had coveted the night prior.

Daryll in Tsavo Lion Restaurant
Daddy climbed back down the makeshift ladder, quickly converted back to a drying rack, a hero in the eyes of those that matter.

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