I am in the bad habit of rescuing chameleons.
In Zambia there is a creation myth about the time when God gave the gift of life to the chameleon and the gift of death to Kalulu the rabbit. They were sent with their gifts to the newly created young humans however the chameleon being indecisive and very vain became distracted and Kalulu sprinted past him ensuring humans were bought death first. The poor chameleon’s punishment were eyes that would forever look in two directions and he is now stuck looking into the past and future, never completing anything and never able to get home. How sad is that!
The upshot of this, and the fact they are very strange looking creatures which can hiss and change colour in a most perturbing manner, is that the chameleon is hated in Zambia and seen as a bringer of bad luck, imbued with negative spirit and used by witches in various unpleasant spells. They are stoned on sight and boys with the ubiquitous catapult use them for target practice
Whilst growing up and later working in Lusaka I would keep coming across chameleons squashed on the road where drivers had seen them and deliberately served to hit them. Therefore, if I saw one of these incredible creatures attempting to cross a road…and damn they are slow and very, very wobbly which means even I could have hit them with a car – I would pick ‘em up and put them into the bushes out of sight..although I always had to check noone was looking as it could cause a bit of a cultural impasse.
Once, on my way back from the market, I saw one very beautiful, bright, emerald-green and extremely large chameleon about to walk out into the middle of a busy road so I picked it up and popped it into my lidded reed basket on top of my shopping.
Walking home the blighter began to try to escape. The ‘what-counts-as-a-pavement-in-Lusaka’ was packed with people, taxi drivers, small stalls and lots of children and I knew I couldn’t let the chameleon out safely until we got home to the sanctuary of my garden so I began to walk faster. At that point, of course, I bumped into a neighbour’s mother. Literally. At first she smiled and laughed and greeted me with great affection and then to my horror I saw her glance down and see the small pointed snout of a hissing chameleon poke its way out of the lid of my basket. The woman’s face changed, her eyes widened and the whites glistened, her mouth dropped open and she looked as if she were about to scream. I backed around her apologising profusely and, whacking the now furious chameleon back into the basket, legged it home.
The chameleon managed to nip me for my trouble as I released it in the safety of my garden and I never saw either of them again, him or the neighbour’s mother…. Or the neighbour for that fact….in fact they may well have moved not much later….
Anyway the reason for the story is that yesterday I was with my pal T in Oxford and discovered Primark and have a gorgeous new coat in exactly the shade of emerald chameleon green. Isn’t that an amazing coincidence… (Well what would you rather…chameleon story or the one about the over whelming smell of vomit in the lingerie department?)
By the I think you should all know that there are a GREAT many people it turns out hording dead cats in their houses too. Following the last couple of posts several of you have shared your secret dead pet stories with me. Grateful as I am, I am feeling much better so…that’s quite enough now.
(And you with the dead horse, you know who you are, seek immediate medical treatment.)