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My vision proper may be poor, but my peripheral vision is excellent. So it was no surprise that I noticed the chameleon right away. It was just a feet away from me, and by the look of it poised for flight…. right towards me. I carefully inched towards the L&M who was busy filling up a form.

“There is a chameleon to our right!” I told him, poised for flight myself.

The L&M and I were at the hospital, standing beneath the shamiana which had been erected in the courtyard across its reception area. It was here that visitors and potential patients had to fill up forms and have their temperature taken as per Covid guidelines. The L&M was bent over the desk writing when I, who was standing around idly, noticed a movement to my right. It was very slight, so negligible that I almost dismissed it. But I know that my critter-warning system is not something to be taken lightly. It has rarely failed me. So I scoured the surrounding area carefully.

My eyes almost missed it the first time around. It was exactly the same color as the brick-paved courtyard. The only thing that gave it away was its raised head and blinking eyes. I suppressed my instinct to jump nimbly to the left, away from the critter. For one, I can no longer do the jumping-aside-nimbly routine. I’d probably fall and break a bone or two. Secondly it was a public place and I was loathe to advertise to the public that I was scared of a chameleon. One has to keep up one’s image as a dignified old lady at least some of the time.

The brick colored chameleon, a very forward kind of a critter I might add, had meanwhile decided to take a few steps in the wrong direction. Towards me. I don’t know what it is about them critters. They always make straight for the person who least wants to socialize with them. I stifled the scream rising in my throat, compressing it into a short, almost inaudible ‘eek’, and deftly – here I was taking a chance really – moved to the other side of the L&M, using him as a handy shield.

My actions finally got the man’s attention. ‘Huh, what, what?’ he asked. “There’s a chameleon over there!” I said never once taking my eyes off it. As usual the L&M’s first reaction was laughter.

“Why must it come towards me?” I asked peevishly.

“Go home!” the L&M said to the chameleon walking towards it. The chameleon though, stood its ground. Not only was it forward, but fearless too. But after a while of pondering things, it decided to take the L&M’s advice. Turning around it crawled back towards the tree behind.

“It was so insistent on coming towards the humans….” I frowned.

“May be it wanted to have its temperature taken like the rest of us.” was the L&M’s reply.

© Shail Mohan 2021