During the 45 years of my existence on this earth, one weapon that I had strongly relied upon to bail me out was my tears. My nasolacrimal ducts were always armed and ready to fire. I could cry without inhibitions, the degree of which could vary from delicate sniffling to ‘Mother of God! Get her to shut up’ vehemence in no time, depending upon the situation and need.
The family folklore has it that this habit of my unabashed howling had once saved a life, actually, two.
Now to the ‘prompt’ delivery of my teary childhood story.
We lived in a coffee plantation, so sparsely populated that our nearest neighbour was a kilometer away. For the uninitiated, if tea plantations were the clean-shaven men with a crew cut and coolers, then coffee estates were their hippie unibrowed cousins with a nose ring. The unkempt plantation encouraged free movement of wild animals. Many times, we had woken up to elephants sneaking their trunk through our kitchen window, trying to steal salt or the bananas left hanging from a hook.
The first few years of my life, I had grown up in that maintained weald with many misadventures. During those years, I was told reliably, that I had a strict baby regime which included quite a lot of wailing with a bit of nibbling and power napping thrown in. Apparently, I could holler like Tina Turner.
One night the shrill sound of hyena’s laugh startled my parents awake. Through the window, they could see a wounded pregnant doe surrounded by a pack of hyenas in our courtyard. The doe had probably escaped from a panther only to be chased by the hyenas. The stripped hyenas were clever scavengers waiting for the deer to give up, now circling her. My parents knew what horror beheld the poor doe as they watched helplessly.
Suddenly, a piercing shriek made the hyenas stop on their tracks. I, the howling horror, had woken up probably by the chaos and had been quite miffed about it. It had started as a squall and reached an alarming crescendo in a matter of seconds. I bawled so loudly and without restraint that the hyenas stood frozen in their tracks. Then the whole pack had taken to its heels fearing for their pity lives. Considering that the hyenas could maul a sick gaur, my performance was considered nothing short of spectacular.
The relieved doe then had collapsed into a heap in the courtyard, tired but grateful.
The next day we found no traces of the late night drama.
I, meanwhile, prefer to think that the doe lived its fullest life, recounting to her dear, deer ones how she was saved by a smelly screaming human cub.
Now the story is used as a warning to intimidate my opponent, including my husband.
‘Give up…she had once….’
Ps – Apart from the fact that the writer is not a day over 25, nothing but the gospel truth was narrated.