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A summer break, the longest vacation between school years for us. We would get to know about the upcoming summer holidays as soon as the half day classes started. It was a kind of informal announcement for all of us. We would pack up our bags before lunch time to go back home during the half-day school season. There would hardly be a month or so from that time before we go for the summer break. Sometimes during the summer vacation, we would travel back to our home town. It was always a great joy to get together with cousins, grandparents and the rest of the family members. This was the same with my friend Cnu. It was a small neighbouring village where his grandparents lived. It would require a short walk on the canal side pathways to reach their village.
It was such a summer when we stayed in our village as we cancelled our plans to visit our home town. My friend Cnu went to visit his grandparents along with his mother. He stayed there for a week and returned with his mother. His mother is spontaneous when it comes to making snacks. She would even make a snack with raw mangoes dipped in a mix of salt and chilli powder each time we visited his home during the mango season. We would have our mouths filled with water just by looking at those neatly served mango slices. One of our favourite type of mangoes is Banganapalle. We would eat it unripe as it tastes equally good as a ripe one.
Cnu would take us to their mango gardens in the morning after breakfast. In the garden we would walk around from one tree to another to find the best mangoes to pluck. We would jump to hold the branches to pick the mangoes if the trees were short or throw the stones at branches if they were tall. We would carry home the trophy – a bag full of mangoes, with pride.
One day as usual we were in the garden with a pile of stones next to us to throw at the tree to get the mangoes. Our friend Ravi also joined us as he, too, wanted to be part of our little adventure. All three of us took our positions where there was more scope to target. As we were enthusiastic, the tree moved to the wind flow as if it shivered to the fact of us getting ready to take it hostile. We took our turns one at a time and aimed at the tree. Some of our attempts were missed and few resulted in making us happy. There was no reluctance from the tree instead it silently handed us each time we succeeded. In the end we were happy to see our bags filled with the gains.
As we were busy picking up the mangoes, we saw a chameleon stood motionless. We understood from the blood stains it had on it that it was brutally injured by our stone hits and also it was possible that one of those fallen mangoes might have even made its condition even worse. Initially, we all were a little scared to go near such a small creature and later we poked it with a long stick out of curiosity to make sure it may get up. As it didn’t respond, we poured some water on it from the bottles we had brought along with us. Our survival senses immediately triggered and we attempted multiple methods in the hope of bringing it back to life. For example,we smashed together a few herbal leaves and applied on it as we usually use them as first aid whenever we get bruised while playing. All of our attempts failed and we came to the conclusion that it might be a resemblance of death.
We all stared at each other in disbelief that we had actually caused the end of its life. The thought itself made us sad. We mourned for a while and exchanged our thoughts about how much pain it might had gone through. As we felt guilty from the depth of our hearts, we decided to perform a ceremony for it. We weren’t aware of the rituals. Hence, we decided to bury it as they described in the stories we had read and heard. We measured it and dug a hole comfortable enough for it and buried the inanimate reptile. We observed a minute of silence and prayed for its soul in a similar way to what we usually practised at our school each time we heard about a natural disaster or loss of a leader.
That day we decided and promised to ourselves, on our way to home, to do small things and try to do good things every day.
Next Episode: Scary nights: An Imaginary Lady