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Sunday, June 17, 2007

18 -- Lizard Tales

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction


rilla: Ewww…!
Rilla: What are you ewwing about now…?
rilla: There’s a lizard tail on the mat outside the backdoor and it’s wriggling…
Rilla: Ah. Those cats. Can’t get enough of the lizard tails.
rilla: But it’s still jumping around, on its own…ewww.
Rilla: You’re such a wuss. What’s the big deal with a lizard tail? Been around lizards all our lives…

rilla: You remember when you were chasing that lizard around the walls in Nilokheri and it fell on my head…
Rilla: Gosh, that was eons ago. I must’ve been five years old…hmm. People used to think it was lucky for a lizard to fall on your head…
rilla: Yeah, and remember in Bangalore, there was this huge chameleon that hung out in the school toilets. Our classmate, Jonathon, used to say that chameleons can get into your mouth and pull out all your teeth unless…
Rilla: …unless you hold your lips in-between your teeth. Yeah! I remember that, gosh, I must’ve been seven. Made it a point to chomp down on my lips and hold on tight every time I went to the toilet…the things we used to believe…
rilla: And in Hyderabad, Mytrae and I would go out in rocks in the morning and ask the chameleons questions. If they bobbed their heads up and down, it was a ‘yes’… side to side was a ‘no’…Am I fat? Up and Down…Does he love me? Side to side! Ah…the wisdom of chameleons.
Rilla: Remember when the bit fat outdoor lizard got into our bathroom?
rilla: Yeah!
Rilla: You didn’t know it was there when you went in and then, the chicken you are, wouldn’t go out again ‘coz it was right above the doorway and when Mom called you, you didn’t dare tell her why you couldn’t leave the bathroom and she kept knocking and knocking…
rilla: Like you were so much help…
Rilla: Huh! It was my idea to go out the other way.
rilla: You mean the door behind the closet that led outside…nearly killed me trying to move that heavy thing and then the bolt was stuck ‘coz it hadn’t been used in a century...
Rilla: We got out…didn’t we? And all because of a lizard…scaredy cat. No, I shouldn’t say cat…our cats aren’t scared of the lizards…
rilla: It was huge…there's a reason they're called 'bloodsuckers' you know...
Rilla: Lizards around the house all the time…but you had to go and…
rilla: IT WAS HUGE…
Rilla: Not as big as the ones in Australia…
rilla: You mean the goannas…yeah, there was the one that hung out on the way down to Wentworth falls… oh, and the one in Lane Cove NP on the path near Mahrukh’s house…a lot of Aboriginal traditions think of them as thieves…
Rilla: Not all of them…how about the story of how the goanna built the first canoe…
rilla: I remember that…the goanna clings to the bark of trees and spends a lot of time considering it. He figures he’ll use the bark to build a canoe and spear some yummy fish.
Rilla: But as soon as he sticks a sheet of bark in the water, it starts to leak and goanna has to swim ashore.
rilla: Then goanna wizes up and figures out a better system that involves singeing the bark first and sewing it at the ends with softened cane thread and a needle made from wallaby bone and sticks down the middle to hold it open..
Rilla: Resourceful fellow…nice of him to share his fishing methods with humans…
rilla: …but the lizards I really liked were the frilled lizards…
Rilla: You like lizards now?
rilla: These guys are pretty…
Rilla: You mean the ones we saw in the red center…
rilla: There’s a story about them too…
Rilla: How the frilled lizard brought fire to the northern islands…?
rilla: Yeah…how the people would watch the smoke tendrils go up from the islands of New Guinea and wished they knew how to make fire. So, frilled lizard offered to swim up there to his sister’s house and ask her for the secret…
Rilla: …and he finally persuaded her to give him a live coal…she didn’t dare part with the tribe’s secret of how to make fire…and frilled lizard hopped from island to island on his way back. On each island he set some dry grass alight to ensure his coal was still going…and his people knew of his journey and his success by the string of smoke spirals they saw approaching.
rilla: But frilled lizard carried the coal in his mouth and when he finally reached home and his people used the fire to cook a delicious meal, his tongue was too burned to enjoy it…
Rilla: Poor fellow. Supposedly, if you look at a frilled lizard’s tongue you will still see that burn scar today…
rilla: Seems like a lot of symbolism there...and history...
Rilla: The history of fire in a lizard's tale...
rilla: Reminds me of the smoldering banksia tree cone, tribes near Sydney would travel with. When they reached a good camping area, they would simply attach it to a string and swing it around until the flames spurted out and fires could be started for the evening meal.
Rilla: …creation myths…gotta love ‘em.
rilla: Creation myths…hmm…I like any kind of myth…like the Ute tale of how lizard tricked coyote when he came to eat him. Here, says lizard, don’t eat me. I’m holding onto this pole that is supporting the earth and if I let go, the pole will fall and the earth will crack. Oh no, replies coyote. Don’t let go of that pole. But my arms are tired, whimpers lizard. If I don’t get any help, I’ll have to let go and then… NO! cries coyote, here, let me take a turn. So he grabs hold of the pole and of course lizard runs away. After a while coyote’s arms get tired and he finally has to let go. He shakes in fear expecting the earth to crack at any moment, but of course nothing happens…hey…
Rilla: Yeah, I see what you mean…that pole is probably the lizard’s tail.
rilla: You mean just like that one outside the back door that came off in the paws of Sha-do?
Rilla: Look, it’s wriggling again.
rilla: Eww…!


Funny how the flick of a lizard's tail can whisk you back through the years
Here's to Lizards!

Mexico



Hawaii








Mohave Desert, California








Read more mythology:
Aboriginal Myths, Legends and Fables compiled by A. W. Reed
Ute Tales collected by Anne M. Smith

8 comments:

Katia Novet Saint-Lot said...

Ah, lizzards ! We had little ones in the French countryside where I went sometimes, growing up. But when I first went to Mexico and then to Asia, I discovered much bigger ones. Actually, I start my Ifeanyi story with a lizzard, Rilla. Kora used to love chasing them in Nigeria. Red headed lizards. Anyway, you went to school to Bangalore ? When and why?? Have to tell me all about that.

Katia Novet Saint-Lot said...

Brr. Forgot to add : one thing I Really don't like is big reptiles. That crocodile. Brrrr. Can't even look at that picture.

Rilla said...

OK, Katia, just for you, I've changed the picture ;) No more crocodile up there...for now! I don't remember the lizard in Ifeyani...guess I'll just have to read it again...that is when I get an autographed first edition...then we can have a long chat about Bangalore too. Just wish you were coming to LA.

Katia Novet Saint-Lot said...

Next year, Rilla. I do plan on coming, spending time with you, and remember, getting you to organize readings for me :) And thanks for changing the pic. I really like that one much, much better. I don't have to scroll down quick quick to not look at the ugly scary croc :) Off to bed, now, it's night time here, and you are just up in sunny California.

J said...

I never knew there were so many 'tails' about lizards. My favorite ones are bearded dragons. I think they're really cool.

Rilla said...

Bearded dragons?? What do they look like? Anything like my horny toad...OK, I guess it's a horned toad, but it's not a toad and it's not a dragon...lizard tales...the more the better!

LynNerd said...

I enjoyed reading about your lizard memories. Yes, it's funny how one small thing can trigger a sh--load of memories. Remember that TV show years ago called "V" where the aliens invaded the Earth and they looked like humans, but they were actually lizard people?
That was a cool story.

Hey, J, your lizard "tails" is cute and clever.

I don't like lizards or snakes. Yuk!

LynNerd said...

P.S. Hey, J, are you sure those are bearded dragons, or are they just wearing misplaced merkins?