This story is by Marien Oommen and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Moth came a-flying into the living room as the family was lounging on the sofa after lunch. He had followed his natural homing instinct, and the garden door, left wide open, beckoned him inside.
Mama was eating a generous slice of the sumptuous Christmas cake because it was the twelfth day of Christmas and ‘her true love’ had brought nothing else.
The song was an annual recurrent betrayal of her romantic notions.
Now there were two pretty women sitting on their high chairs leaning against the kitchen slab. One was Mama, checking out a new recipe, with her mouth full, and the youngest daughter, rewriting her script, which never seemed to reach its end.
The whirring sound frequency in the air caught their ears at the very same second. Moth was now circling over their heads like a drone.
The peaceful domestic scene was transposed to a war zone.
WOW (Women of War) geared up at once to implement the weapons of moth destruction. They used screams of varying high-pitched sounds, some high, some low. No success. Moth still flew overhead, whirring as if in mockery of their limited human endeavors. Then, with remarkable precision, it dove straight into the folds of Mama’s long skirt.
“Ahhhhaaaaa…Out, you horrid creature,” screamed Mama.
Time it was for some serious action plan.
“Turn off Brexit,” Mama shouted to Papa. “Enough of hearing of what May may do or may not have to do. That TV light is a magnet attracting them.”
“Turn off all the lights.” Mama had elevated herself to Lady Gestapo giving orders now, where everybody had to fall in line.
“Switch on the verandah lights. Let it follow the light outside.”
It’s always good to follow the Light- of the world.
Dolce was getting visibly excited. How do moths taste? He wondered.
All of a sudden, a piercing shriek from Mama almost shattered the glass door. Dolce jumped a foot high to her rescue. Her needs first before his own finer tastes, he knew without a shadow of doubt.
Let my reader know that Dolce was sent to this good home on a special Comfort Mission from Rainbow Bridge as requested by the oldest son of this home. The young man had reached God’s side a little too soon, plunging the family into a deep sadness. He had loved his mama deeply and knew there was something that would ease her pain. A directive was passed onto the Leader of the Heavens from the son that his mama needed a special visible touch of comfort. And Poof! Dolce, the Havanese, arrived. He was the angel emissary dog.
Moth had now slowly ventured closer, landing right on Mama’s foot. The dog did a leap. It was a big one, not an ordinary inconsequential moth, you might say.
The Papa sunk deeper into the cushions.
“Wait I’ll get rid of it. Let me just finish watching this hole. Why are you making such a racket anyway? It’s just a moth.”
Papa had spoken all this without once taking his glance away from the television. He just wasn’t listening.
The yellers sensed a lecture was coming.
“It’s good for the ecosystem. It means the garden is flourishing. When I was a young boy, Renj and I would collect these creatures and put them in a bottle- with a little vent. I love to see moths- soon he might turn to a butterfly. Let him free,” he pontificates.
“But this one has no desire to leave our home. Let’s bring in the lizards too. We can have a zoo inside our home, a menagerie of sorts.” Mama suggested.
The dad had a mortal fear of lizards. All his manhood disappeared at the sight of a lizard. Whenever a lizard was spotted at home, perched on the wall, making cute clucking sounds, mama’s courage and daredevilry were praised.
“There’s no one like you, when it comes to chasing lizards.” he mused then. That’s when his fingers would reach out for her curls and he would twirl it round his finger.
Love just happens in those lizard moments. But let’s not deviate.
We have a mission in hand.
“This Moth has been doing a house tour everyday. We can’t sit with our doors open or enjoy the sea breeze. I feel imprisoned.” Mama argued.
The man wasn’t budging an inch to help solve the crisis on board. If Mama continued to watch his TV fix, her mood would get so thoroughly spoilt, that everyone would’ve to retire to bed, dulled into a stony silence.
That’s the power of the Mama!
She could get the family together in one happy frame of mind in the family room. Or the reverse. Even Dolce knew better and would go sleep under the curtain, with his nose sticking out, “Just keeping an eye on things, guys!”
“Moth maybe a secret prince. Rhee. Plant a kiss on him. No telling who might suddenly appear.”
The young lady smirked.
These two women had a very natural, totally feminine, squeaky aversion of anything that flies-specially if they are to wander up the leg or seek new pastures through an open armhole, exploring unknown territories hitherto known to man.
The man lounged even deeper into the sofa, spread-eagled on the cushions. He couldn’t care less. Somehow mosquitoes and flies never chose him as a target. It was his rock hard skin while Mama’s was super soft like vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles. He heard the two women rave and rant on in a mindless chatter. As if there were a 1000 moths round about.
Problem solving was momentarily deferred.
“Wait. I’ll get rid of him. But I’m tired now. Playing 18 holes in the hot morning sun is not a joke.”
“Who do you think you are? Get moving, Tiger.”
Mama’s tone meant business. Papa decided it was prudent to get up. Looking visibly annoyed, but with a determined purpose writ on his brow, he moved closer to the intrepid flyer and spoke to Moth in no uncertain terms.
“So if you’re not leaving this home, I’m gonna‘ve to kill you.” The nature lover, beetle advocate and moth preserver had changed his tune.
“You sound like the horrid Mafia,” Mama whispered.
The moth, unaware of this mortal scheming, now sought higher grounds, circulating near the fan.
Out in the garden, an eclipse of moths had gathered under the pole light. An executive meeting was in progress. The Moth Council was discussing their Christmas plans, where they could gather to pig out.
But our homing Moth hated long board meetings and had strayed into our safe haven.
Mama changed her modus operandi. She spoke in her sweetest voice, “Moth, I really like you. Do you have a name?”
With great seriousness, Papa muttered, “Kutti”.
‘Kutti’ in a foreign tongue, far away in Kerala, called God’s own country, means “Little One.”
“Ahhh! Moth-O’kutti,” Mama laughed, as she always did whenever Papa voiced these sudden, rare spurts of originality in his deep undertones.
Moth was now hiding behind the cups. He sensed danger. An angry human is capable of anything.
Then he vanished. They heard the distinct flapping, like distant drums, but Moth was nowhere to be found. Disappeared under curve of the sofa.
Silence prevailed. The calm before the storm. Finally, as if hit by an astroball from outer space, the young lady declared,
“Moth has adopted our home. You can’t kill it, Pa. We need to preserve life, not destroy them. I won’t allow it.”
Rhee was an animal activist. Realization dawned on her and she saw the creature as part of God’s creation. Her fears of the flying moth vanished, disappeared like the mist over the sea.
“Soon, Pa, he’ll morph into a butterfly.”
His name will be called Butterfly Kutti. You’d think he was Moses.
That was six months ago. Today as Mama gazed out the window, she saw a butterfly on the lemon tree.
And she burst into a song:
‘All God’s creatures got a place in the choir
Some sing low and some sing higher,
Some sing out loud on a telephone wire,
Some just clap their hands, or paws, flap their wings,
Or anything they’ve got now.”