The Foreign exchange
We used to exchange pictures at school,
particularly of the animals and birds we love. As a treasure, I kept them in a
book. My fancy went after a camel’s
illustration in Jacky’s hands. He handed it over for the entire pictures of
dragonflies and birds with me. It was large enough for me to paste on the wall.
Hence I could look at it while going to bed.
My playmates like the dragonflies, butterflies
and birds were around me, except the camel. At night, either I would be playing
with the dragonflies and butterflies in our garden or I would be travelling on a
camel’s back in the desert. Dreams made
me closer to camel, which took me long ways in the sun, while other beings were
only my playmates.
Although my Mum was bedridden, she had a
string of numerous untold stories. She would take it out seeing me. Sometimes
they befitted adults too, like the camel’s. I have been hearing stories lying
on her lap since my childhood. Even now, I could escape to my childhood. Her each
story would be in some way different from the other.
My dreams used to visit
Arabia. Yet neither Mum nor I have ever imagined I would be
able to see Arabian countries once, until I acquired the exporting license.
‘Harley, now you can see camel, you can
travel on its back and can have one if you want.’
Hence, I decided to see camel, to travel on
its back and to have one. I hadn’t made up my mind to bring it to our state,
until Susie wished so.
When Susie entered our home as my spouse,
she hated me for being a child in Mum’s arms to chill out. She disliked the camel’s illustration on the
wall also. In her ignorance, I used to fall
back to my childhood, lying on Mum’s lap. I would let the colourful dragonflies
and butterflies fly all over from my childhood.
I can hear Susie wondering,
‘Oh, damn it! From where these stuff enter here!
These aren’t extinct still? For what the hell God has created such nuisance!’
I wonder if ever she had a childhood! If ever
God has created her!
She knows they have turned extinct and how.
She tempted me to export them to foreign countries. They are either caught at
the airport or killed at alien atmosphere. Having influence in the departments at
the airport, I could conceal me.
I exported the dragonflies with blue wings
and red body. They were the most wanted
and cherished ones. Now their breed is unavailable even for a big sum offered.
When I was a kid, Mum would advise me
against hurting any being while playing with them.
‘Harley, they’re living beings just like us.’
I hadn’t made dragonflies lose their tails
or wings. I wasn’t mischievous either to tie its tail with thread or to take
small stones for my sheer jeering.
Entering Mum’s bedroom, Susie wondered at
‘You’re still an Oedipus?’
As soon as Susie crossed the threshold of
our rendezvous, they all flew away to hide in my book.
‘Oh, you were hiding them from me? Why
don’t you export them to
Thailand? You know a hotel manager there? They can offer
customers fried items of such beautiful insects and creatures. We’ll get
‘Now no more exchange. No more export and
import of any beings.’
‘Then how can we make money?’
‘Everything is enough.’
Still she weighed my childhood and fixed
the deal. It cost as much as Mum’s love. I didn’t let it happen. Furiously she left
‘You export our dragonflies?’
I was mute at Mum’s question.
‘Why do you want money now, Harley?’
‘To treat her abroad.’
‘What’s wrong with her?
‘She has got some unknown camel’s disease.’
‘Doctors say, her disease is noticed only
in camels until now. They’ve asked me to take her to an Arabian country to
consult a veterinarian for camels.’
‘And she’ll be okay then?’
‘I’m not certain.’
I lay on her lap. She knows my intention. Yet
she has been mute for minutes.
‘You want to hear a story, Harley?’
‘Yes, Mum. The Camel’s.’
‘You still remember it?’
‘It has been my favourite one since my
Mum began her narration. Hanging on its
finger, I followed her through the
Arabian Desert. We came across a camel.
Arabia, an Arab had a fine camel. It took him across the
desert for miles without any fatigue. If he departed on its back, his journey
would turn fruitful, unlike by his vehicle.
‘You know what happened once?’
As usual, Mum tried to increase my enthusiasm
‘I know. Let me tell you, Mum.’
I burst out.
I continued the story. Hanging on its finger, she followed me.
When I was in
Arabia, Susie asked me to import a camel. As she implored, I
decided to bring one. Moreover, I have been curious about it, since my
One of my partners abroad was an Arab. He
had a fine farmhouse, which I happened to visit. During then, he told me about his
camel. In every aspect, it resembled Mum’s narration. Like me, the Arab was a
lover of butterflies and dragonflies. He had a vast collection of the insects
abroad. For a fair amount of our
butterflies, I bought his camel. With fake orders, I managed to bring it to our
state by sea.
Hearing the camel is at our home, Mum wished
to see it.
‘No, Mum, it’s no more here.’
Having a camel of her own, Susie was glad
and I was proud. However, we couldn’t hide
it from the eyes of media. We had to answer if anything falls on it. Whenever
we were having food, the camel cried intolerably gazing at us through the
glassy window-panes pained.
Susie would say,
‘That animal is fasting. It’ll kill us.’
I left it to graze. It resented the grass
in our land and everything we offered. It became lanky with a desperate look in
I was disturbed even at the illustration of
the camel on the wall. I couldn’t enjoy looking at it. While going to bed, I avoided seeing it. Its eyes were nothing but desert which gradually
flowed into our home.
We could neither eat nor sleep well,
because of the camel’s intolerable cry. During then, someone asked a probe into
the channel the camel came. If police made an enquiry, I would be in threat.
‘Susie, I doubt if our dragonflies and
butterflies survived in the desert?’
‘Forget it. Why do you think about the dead?’
‘We shouldn’t have exchanged them. I grieve
Mum used to ask me about the unusual cry. I
couldn’t reveal I was harassing a camel. I told her that it was her
‘Some animals would cry at night, just
before an impending danger or death. I fear if it’s my turn.’
While I was reflecting on the means to
relieve the camel off, it vanished. Media believed it was stolen. Unlike Susie,
I was still lost in the desert.
‘I haven’t imagined we could escape it,
‘What could’ve happened to it? Poor animal!’
Susie was engrossed in cooking. She makes
her best dishes, when she is tensed. I couldn’t taste a bit of any dish she
served. I couldn’t be as she was.
The camel on the wall also disappeared. Without
Susie’s knowledge it won’t go anywhere. She confessed that she wiped it out.
She didn’t want a camel at home anymore. Weeks later, Susie had some disturbances in her well-being, which was
noted only in camels until then.
Whenever I would enter Mum’s room to chill
out lying on her lap, she would ask,
‘Anything about the camel?’
‘Where could have it gone, Harley?’
‘There’s no desert in our state for it to escape, Mum.’
‘I fear, if she had served it on the table.’
‘Because you said that doctors wonder how she developed a camel’s
Susie too loved animals, never as pets, as
meat served on the table. She was gutsy enough to eat any being, even snakes
and was proud on it. It was when she
revealed to me that she had had a snake once. I ended our honeymoon trip and
returned to Mum.
Whenever I went to bed with Susie, I could
see a snake lying in between us. I would run to Mum. Unfortunately, Susie found
only an Oedipus in between us to take me to a psychiatrist. I took months to touch
the snake in her.
I have been lying on Mum’s lap for a long time.
Susie approached me.
‘What about my treatment?’
‘I must arrange money.’
‘You can sell the butterflies.’
‘The foreign exchange is enough.’
‘Don’t you want to save me?’
‘Yes. What about the dragonflies, the butterflies and the camel?’
She left the room as usual. Mum and I were alone in the room vacant of
‘You want to hear a story, Harley?’
‘Yes, Mum. The Camel’s.’
She began the story. Hanging on its
fingers, I followed her through the
Arabian Desert. Nowhere in
the stark desert could I see at least a camel.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Seena Rani.
Published on e-Stories.org on 26.03.2010.