It was a lazy afternoon, I played hooky from 91 springboards, and Dr.D had just left for the academic arena called the university. I thought it was a great time to sip my coffee, brewed just right my glasses perched strategically so that it would hamper my reading, yet I felt very intellectual gazing at the newspaper with shut eyes. When I heard a rustle.
I assumed that it was a mild conversation between the late winter breeze and the sheets of newspaper. In order to ensure that my intellectual ennui remains, I decided to place a tea cup right on the newspaper and as I raised the cup I saw it… the response was Bhibatsa.
Now for all of you who were smart enough to refrain from Bharata Muni and his 100 sons and their creation called Natyashastra, Bhibhatasa is one of the navarasa or emotional responses to a situation. It can be summed as combination of horror, repulsion and fascination. So you can imagine what happened. For right in the centre of the room was the one animal that could freeze me.
It’s not that I am an Urban ignoramus, but you see, experiences from a childhood spent in the villages of Belmar, Neelavara, Melmatta stand strong. Kittadoddamma, my great aunt was a great one to translate what the animals told us when they turned up. You see those days coiled snake in the bathroom, a rat dropping from the attic, a lizard in the shoe were common occurrences. Though my own favourite was the mongoose who lived in the burrow under the coconut three. But my day’s visitor like I mentioned before had the unique capacity of freezing me.
No sir, not a cockroach, I can handle them well. This visitor is called “arane ” in our dialect, and “haavurani” in the Ghats. I think it is referred to as saamp ki mausi in the Hindi land though. Between you and me I surprised that we do not have the male of the species spewing venom for being called “Rani” or “mausi.”
The golden green reptile is so beautiful there is something very elegant and classy about it. The awesome stillness is also fascinating, yet there is something about the animal that repulses me. For once I was a bad host, I shouted, called up Dr.D who was 35 secs ride away and my darling daughter who is 350 miles away, shoo-ed the animal, and sighed a sigh of relief and went right back to my coffee.
This time round I changed my location. Coffee fortified me…and as I raised my head I saw another one, right in front of me behind my coffee table. Suddenly I heard Kittadoddamma again,
“alladabeda” she commanded asking me to sit still. So I folded my legs and began meditating with my eyes open. Somewhere there was a fleeting eye contact. I tried to focus on what Indira teacher told me about this reptile. She called it garden lizard. Strangely images that showed up for garden lizard was not this animal. I realized I did not name my Bhibhatsa… I did not know what fascinated and repelled me at the same time.
This time round, I picked up the zoology text book and looked for the reptiles of the subcontinent, I found my visitor. The scientific name was “Sphenomorphus Indicus” belonged to the
Common Name skink
My Sphenomorphus indicus was still there, still assessing me, like I was assessing it. The guiding voice of Kittadoddamma, took over, without breaking eye contact I opened the door to my balcony. And went into a self-hypnotic trance. My only command to the subconscious mind was since Kittadoddamma was not around to translate, kindly tell me why do I have this strange visitor who fascinated and repelled me at the same time.
The obvious answer was, “because your house looks like its natural habitat”
Of course not, the animal encyclopaedia lists Sikkim and Himalayas as its natural habitat. So I persisted.
The message was that internal changes set an individual free, rather than external. You have the ability to tap into intuitive higher knowledge, allow yourself to use this trait move forward right now – subsequent research showed me that this was a Celtic belief.
It also appears to remind you that you are so caught up in your mundane activity that you have forgotten to dream—subsequent research showed me that this was an aboriginal belief.
In the shamanic world of animal medicine, the skink represents adaptability, detachment, ego, it tells you face fear, going with the flow, introversion. It also brings forth movement, quickness, shrewdness and spontaneity.
There are many evolved souls like Kittadoddamma, who believe that animals are sent by the spirit world to provide insights. Each culture has them though they differ. The book “breaking open the head” by Daniel Pinchbel has shared this study.