It was once upon a time in a long gone era when the day still passed with a lazy drawl unlike the break-neck pace of today. I could just lie by the stream waiting for the little tadpoles to come out from under the green slippery rock. I would scoop it onto my palms and giggle as it wiggled. I would crane my neck at an alarming angle by the edge of an old oak stump above the big rock where a huge brown freshwater crab lived with his girl. He did not like my intrusion much and would scuttle beneath the rock as soon as he would see me coming. He would assume I couldn’t see him but I really could. Sometimes I would run after him with my paint brushes but barely could lay my hand on his carapace. Not that he was fast, but he wouldn’t sit still. I wasn’t very fond of snakes so I avoided them, I presumed they avoided me too for our encounters were far and few and whenever it did happen, both of us would run away in opposite direction. I screaming, the snake slithering.
Monsoon was my favourite season for obvious reasons. You could play in the puddle, jump in the canals, walk with sloshing rubber boots. The other reason was the leeches. Monsoon always came with these infamous visitors that indeed painted the valley red.
The rains would patter day and night on the roof, on the windows, on the crops, although the crops didn’t complain like the roof so you barely got to hear the rains out there in the fields. But its wetness stuck to your hair and your clothes plastering them onto your skin.
The cold sticky rain brought out the leeches in the forests in swarms, groups and armies. If you put your foot out onto the soft wet grass for a little walk of health, a whole bunch of them would attack it and render it a perfect picture of a wounded soldier in battle. Leech bite as therapy was still unheard of then.
Inch by inch they would clamber up your legs in search of a soft juicy spot wherein to make that unholy puncture of precisèment. But all the horror did not deter me for I loved taking these tiny monsters to school to scare the girls. It gave my friends a good laugh. No matter how scary they look, leeches are quite a harmless lot made infamous by their obscene food habits, but then they just suck a little bit of your blood and no one ever died of it.
Also they are quite civil about their feeding, and I strongly advocate their polite table manners; as in they do not cause any pain to the individual while they were at it. The area gets a little itchy the day after that is all. Considering the fact that these little rogues are only one thousandth of the size that we are, I strongly believe one should reward their efforts, taking on such a mighty opponent by allowing them a little snack. Although at one’s discomfort. Well earned! don’t you think?
I do not see any logic in despising them out-rightly simply because they feed on blood, after all God has made them that way and I refuse to snigger at somebody’s food just because it is raw and not served on a plate.
The tiny slippery monsters, I fondly remember even today. My companions of yesteryear, who walked with me to school every monsoon.
Memories of a different time when the silent jungles would talk to you, through the leaves and branches that creaked beneath your feet, the songs of the whistling thrush that resonated in the air, the frolicking streams that ran ahead of you or the snapping bamboo groves that lined the boundaries of the forests. That enchanted era has passed but it shall always remain in my heart.