There I was, standing in front of the muddy pond, the one in the small town where I was born. Its water looked muddier than the soil around. The palm trees and vines of all sorts circled around it like the court pays audience to the king. The waters looked forbidding; something created a ripple at the centre; a serpent just waded by before I could catch a proper glimpse. It had been like this since I knew it, mysterious, unwelcoming, and unwanted. It is too small to attract young lovers, too ill-placed to attract the property developers. But it has its own fascination; no one knows what lies beneath. From time to time, we dip in a hook from far, and out comes a wriggling evil looking fish with demonic whiskers and strength to match a cat. These dark ugly fish only add to the pond’s mystery. Imagine Loch Ness, every inch of which has been scoured to test the hype; the chances of finding the solitary monster are much higher here. No one dares take a swim in its bubbling fetid waters but for the occasional snake that crosses it in silent respect. At few places, dark lifeless twigs can be seen rising out of the pond surface, a reminder of how unforgiving the pond can be if its boundaries are violated. The sun moves all around it every day in vain attempts to reach its depths. Once every year, the pond rises with the rains to seek out the world from a greater height. And when it goes back to its habit, we see dark slimy remains of unfamiliar weeds and half eaten fish, their eyes in a state of horror. As I stand near the pond and the memories start coming back from the deepest recess of my mind, the pond sends its first line of attack, the mosquitoes, in scores to send me back. It’s getting dark, the smell of rot and death is all around, the mosquitoes are buzzing alarms around, the heavy air is too in thrall to move, and I head back; the pond ever engraved in my mind.
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