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Karthick Hemabushanam

Abstract Others


Karthick Hemabushanam

Abstract Others

Bizarre Zoo

Bizarre Zoo

12 mins

“GO THAT SIDE, DON’T COME NEAR HERE. If you break the glass the snakes will catch your neck,” the man who served as a zookeeper said.

The small boy Mukhil was frightened and jerked back. His eyes ballooned in the sockets. He almost fell over other people who were standing behind him. Fortunately, they didn’t curse at him. They knew it wasn’t intentionally done. In fact, the lady next to him smiled at him. She held two cloth bags in her both hands. Her small daughter was with her husband, who put her on top of his left shoulder and showing her the python.

“Where are your parents?” the zookeeper boomed at the small boy.

He didn’t respond but stayed polite because he had lost his parents at the bus stop. No, it wasn’t the right way to say it. Actually his parents had left him alone as they couldn’t feed him. He was wandering around the city for a few days with hunger and dehydration before he found shelter behind this zoo premises two days back. On seeing the little children coming with their parents inside the zoo, he wanted to take a look at the animals. But he had no money in his pocket. So he had gone down to a tea shop and requested a job as a cleaner, the tea shop owner initially refused him on seeing his small figure but when he had kept standing before the shop for more than an hour, his heart melted like cheese in the hot pan. He gave him a job to clean the shop. The boy had earned fifty rupees yesterday for his relentless hard work, and his fingers ached as he swabbed the floor with a mop and scrubbed the dishes. 

“I am asking you only?”

This time the zookeeper shook the long cane stick in front of him. On seeing it, a small girl cried as if he had threatened her to beat.

“Hey, fool. What are you doing? You are making my daughter afraid,” the lady said in a mighty voice. She had dropped bags on the floor. The others were curious to know what was going on here. Their heads poked out to know the root cause of this sudden clamor. Even the foreign snakes inside the glass boxes gave attention.

“I am sorry madam. I just wanted to let this boy understand the seriousness of the issue if he broke this protection glass,” he said as tapped his cane stick on the glass wall. A five-meter Viper snake crawled slowly from its hibernating place and circled her body on a thick stump and craned her long neck towards them as if it wanted to break this glass and get out of here immediately. The reddish long tongue came out with fangs at the tip of it. It flicked rigorously at them as people were suddenly amazed to look at the glimpse of it. 

“It is alive and looking at us,” the small boy Mukhil said. He shrieked as he started clapping. The Viper gave a surreptitious nod as if he had insulted it.

“Wow, that’s really cool,” a rich fellow said, he wore Ray-Ban sunglasses over his head. He was standing close with his wife, who wore heavy makeup and ornaments. She smacked tortilla chips as cherished the moment.

“Everyone, stay back and don’t come closer,” the zookeeper said in a husky voice.

The people didn’t bother about what he said. They were kept coming closer to get a look at such a big Viper. The color of its skin had matched the sodden thick stump inside the glass wall.

“What type of zookeeper you are? Don’t even let us see this big snake?” the swarthy lady said in a thick voice with a whistling sound. The zookeeper’s black mustache slightly bounced up and down on the impact of her words.

“Madam, just understand. I am telling this for your goodness’ sake,” he warned.

She grabbed his shirt’s collar and tossed him aside, “You don’t give us suggestions. We know what should do. You just keep shut you're…………” she said to him as she snapped her rotund fingers in front of him. The security guard swallowed a heavy lump down his throat. He feared she might tread over him like an elephant. He was panting as his chest heaved up and down. The lathi in his hand had fallen in the distance.

“Just listen to me. You can’t let the children touch the glasses,” the zookeeper said in a feeble voice as if he was going to die in a few seconds. His face looked swollen and his eyes were smudged with tears.  In fact, he got really afraid as if he would lose his job because of this rampant crowd. Last year when he was patrolling the lion cage to stop the trespassers from doing silly acts, a boy about fifteen years of age, ran on top of the wall and smirked at the lion as he tossed a few candies to it. The lion was ferocious at that time as it didn’t eat any food for the past few days, and it was waiting for some big meat to catch in. It roared as walked back and forth stealthily inside the cage, as it looked at the boy. The people who stood near the cage couldn’t even know how this boy had climbed up the steep wall, some people said he was a mentally retarded fellow and started throwing stones on him to get him down. But he wasn’t offended by them and kept teasing the lion as tossed whatever snacks he had in his hand. The lion threw an uproarious head showing its big teeth and boomed at him. The boy didn’t budge a little. Suddenly a small stone threw by people fell on his left shoulder as the boy unbalanced himself on the small edge of the wall and fell inside the cage. The zookeeper wasn’t there and he had gone out to smoke a cigarette since he thought nothing would happen to the visitors, as the lion was caged in. There was a sudden hush from the crowd, their faces cringed and crinkled as they stood up there. Their hearts stopped in shock for a few seconds as they looked at the boy who was trying to protect himself from the ferocious lion which didn’t attack him immediately. But it looked at him with its big sharp teeth and waiting for a sumptuous meal. He swallowed a thick lump down his throat as quivered inside. His heart bonged in his chest like the bombs were exploding. His heart jumped out of his mouth, when the lion roared for the first time, shaking its head. Few people around the cage had started making videos to share this incident with their friends, not a single person in the crowd had taken a step to save him. The boy backpedaled as his hands kept rubbing the floor, he knocked down the water poured in a bowl as it was splashed on the floor. The next second, the lion plunged at him and ripped his head as its sharp claws dug deep into his innards. His throbbing cry came to halt suddenly. His blood mixed with the water which was splashed earlier. In about fifteen to twenty minutes the boy was no more in the cage, he was chewed by the lethal lion. When the matter came to the zoo administration’s notice, the man was suspended for six months and a case was filed on him for the negligence of duty and letting the visitors in jeopardy. The incident still vividly resurfaced on his mind now. He didn’t want to repeat the same mistake again, but the situation was getting out of his hand. He couldn’t control everyone.

“Nothing can harm us. You just stay away from here. We don’t need you to protect us,” the swarthy lady boomed at him.

The zookeeper stood, his dark hair was shaggy, smoothened his dress as looked at the people. He didn’t want to stay here any longer. He was embarrassed. He had gone away as snarled at them. 

Now, the boy knew no bounds of joy. He came close to the glass-walled enclosure of the snakes and pressed his face on it, a screech let out. You could see the head of the Viper snake was getting wider as he looked at it closely. He almost got thrashed down when it crawled up slowly and came close to him and hissed few times as its red fangs stretched longer.

“Mom, it looks like a snake in Harry Potter,” a small girl said in an excited tone. She was still sitting on top of her father’s shoulder. Though she didn’t belong to a rich family, the boy was impressed with what she said. It’s like an eye-opener for him. The first time he heard about Harry potter. He felt like he had to know more about it. If she stood near him, he would have surely talked to her. He threw a look at her and saw her briefly. But she didn’t look at him at all. 

“You are my sweet girl. How many things you know, eh?” the lady said to her child as pinched her cheek. Her face crackled with full of smiles. She was proud of her little daughter.

“What’s your name?” the boy asked the girl who was about his age.

The lady threw a nasty look and commanded, “Don’t tell the baby.”

But the girl liked him. She wanted to talk with him. In fact, she used to keep telling her father that she wants a brother to play together.

“My name is Sharadha, my friends call me Shaddhu,” she said to him.

Her father smiled and being a proud father dropped her down from his shoulder. He didn’t feel a drop of the burden of the girl. In fact, he had the energy to take her all the way to his home, on his shoulder.  

“That’s a good name. I even had a friend with the same name," the boy said.

The girl returned a warm smile and shook hands with him. The blue frock fitted to her body very nicely. She is like a little angel, he thought.

“You look beautiful in this dress,” he said.

The girl blushed, but her mother gave him a punch on his head. Didn’t knock him down, but it had caused a little thud inside his brain.

“Menaka, don’t beat him. Ask sorry,” her husband said. He wasn’t happy about her depressing attitude. He was a cooli worker, and run a shoddy sugar-cane shop next to a PVR mall in Triplicane. It didn’t make his bank account to swell, but gave him a decent life, fulfilling his family's hunger. He was happy to make a trip to the zoo, after a long time. It was a perfect beginning to let his child to be happy during school holidays, though he had to sacrifice a day’s revenue during this summer. Only in summer, he could expect to earn well.

“I don’t ask sorry to this fellow,” his wife said strictly, as threw an ugly look on him. But she stayed quiet, tossing her head away.

“Thank you,” Sharadha said to him for complimenting her, and extended the half bitten snicker chocolate to him, “Take it.”

“No, I don’t want,” Mukhil declined the offer genuinely.

“Don’t you like chocolates?”

“No, not like that. But I don’t feel like eating now,” he lied.

“I have another one if you don’t like this,” her father, fished out milky bar chocolate from his pocket and gave it to him.

Mukhil didn’t take it hastily but looked at Shardha for a few seconds and after she prompted him to eat, he took the chocolate and said thanks to them.

“You look like my nephew, but he died three weeks before in an accident,” Sharadha’s father said, his eyes were moistened.

“I’m sorry,” Mukhil said in a humble voice, a mature person can feel that way.

“Why are you talking all those things to a stranger,” his wife said irritably.

“Don’t you shut your mouth? This boy is talking nicely to us. Learn something from him.”

“You’re always like this. Insulting me in front of the strangers,” she said in a bitter tone and moved on. 

“You don’t worry, she is like that only,” Sharadha’s father said in a calm and soothing tone.

“No, no, I’m not offended by her words at all,” Mukhil said.

The people who came to have a look at the snakes were leaving since the Viper had gone back to its nest and not moving at all. The other snakes too were nestled inside the glass-wall, not interested to entertain anyone. 

“So, where are your parents?” Sharadha asked him. Her father patted over her head for rightly asking this question. He rebuked himself for not bringing such a question earlier. He had really forgotten about his parents as he dealt miserably with his wife early on.

Mukhil didn’t speak for more than ten seconds. They anticipated he would talk, but time got elapsed. He didn’t even part his lips after hearing this question as if his brain was faded suddenly.

“Mukhil…Mukhil,” her father shook him. 

They could see a smudge of tears crept down on his cheeks, “Anything wrong with you?”

“No, I’m sorry,” he shook his head to hide the tears from seeing them. “I don’t have anyone to take care of me.”


Both Sharadha and her father threw a shocking face at him.

“Yes uncle, my parents had dropped me on the bus stop and gone,” he said, recollecting the hurtful memory which made his brain hot.

“God forgives me to hear this,” Sharadha’s father said. A tear leaked out from his left eye. He was a strong man, never wanted to shed tears for any matter. But when it comes to hearing the news like the parents were abandoning their children, his heart starts weeping and his bones cracking. Because he himself was brought up in an orphanage after his mother had pushed him there. His mother was about twenty years old and didn’t marry but had her womb growing. She was a good girl and had enough courage not to go for abortion, even though others would have killed him at the initial stage itself. She fought with her boyfriend to tie a knot and reveal the society that she was his wife, but he wasn’t ready to take her. He got what he wanted from her, the lust. He didn’t have an ounce of interest to take her as wife. He threw false promises on her to indulge in sex. That’s all he wanted from her. The ugliest truth made her to hate herself, but she didn’t want to kill the infant in her womb. She continued to stay in a hostel even though her parents cut the relationship with her completely. She worked part-time in a grocery store as a shop keeper until she gave birth to the boy. Later she didn’t feel like living in the society which hated her and the boy. She wanted to stop society from yelling her boy. She decided to put him in the orphanage and kill herself. She did.

“Dad, don’t cry,” Sharadha said to her father, who failed to hide the tears crawling down his cheeks.

He cleared his throat and looked at Sharadha, “Take his hands.”

Sharadha fumbled to understand what her father meant. Mukhil too perplexed.

“He is your brother. He’ll live in our home from now on,” he said with a broad smile and averted his gaze at Mukhil, “Are you okay to stay with us? But we don’t have a big house, but a smaller one. We can’t feed you pizzas and burgers, but idlis and dosas. If you like to stay with us, take Sharadha’s hands.”

Mukhil couldn’t explain how happy he was to hear such news. His parents had tossed him like a waste cloth, but here a stranger wanted to take him as his child. God is there. He is living in the form of a human. He can see the god is in front of him, and asking him to stay with him. He immediately plunged on him, embracing and cuddling. He is very happy to get a sister like Sharadha, who is both cute and a kind girl.

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