Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Martin Lizard King

Martin Lizard King, our Water Monitor friend
a true life adventure compiled by the Sameer family at Eco Village, Sri Lanka in 2006

               Eco Village at Sunrise

We wake up together at dawn, each day, and salute the golden radiation of warm sunshine as it touches the far banks of the Dodanduwa Lagoon and paints the Gin Ganga in subtle shades of colors and hues. Feelings of serenity whisper voices of melancholy and weave Utopian dreams of parading solitude into our hearts and gives rise to an amazing awakening from a silent slumber through the night. The aura invades the innermost crevices of our soul, with emotions from a breathtaking beyond, as our eyes survey the contours of this simple little heaven on earth lurking away in a corner, off the southern coast of Sri Lanka and referred to as Eco Village to all commercial and traveller folks. The beautifully manicured lawn with its foliage feasting in the air emanates the human need for peace and contentment within ruffling showers that fill the flowers with the essence of fresh new fragrances throughout each passing day.

In this exotic environment of beauty and splendor, Martin Lizard King, the silent Water Monitor spells out an ancient love story written by time and narrated through nature’s beauty from generation to generation. In so many ways Martin demonstrates his dignified demeanour and grace as he silently, and in all serenity, plays about on the bounteous land and washes his cares away in the silvery streams of the cool lagoon waters. His steadfast strength moves him on, surviving in a jungle called earth where financially-oriented homo sapiens wait, watchfully, for any opportunity to use him and his fellow creatures for amassing power and profit. I watch him in awe, as he rustles through the dried leaves that have fallen overnight to the ground from the massive Kottang trees that stand tall around encircling the village.

           Our friend, Martin Lizard King

Martin Lizard King moves, glides gracefully across the Eco Village lawn, six feet of sun-kissed hide skirting the mangroves through the grass and sliding silently into the lagoon where he swims in deep delight amidst his fellow water creatures, hoping to catch his daily breakfast and relish it by himself. He then moves up to the surface, his watchful eyes skimming the water line, his webbed feet paddling gracefully beneath, his slithery tail swishing left and right, as he moves regal like a dugout canoe, and shows off to me how great his simple, yet beautiful life, plays out.

That’s Martin, our Water Monitor friend, sleek in design, majestic in float, full of sense and sensibilities of life where his script is written by stealth, silence, shelter and satisfaction, which plays eternally on, like a rhythmic music, every single day and night, until eternity.   

  A walk through the Mangrove Arboretum

The flora and fauna are plentiful at Eco Village, in Dodanduwa, where we spent a few fabulous weeks, on a summer holiday in Sri Lanka. The mangroves dip silently into the water, encircling the lake in its entirety providing a canopy of safety, security, and livelihood to all of God’s creatures who share it as a common home. Live cranes, cormorants, storks, gulls and even hundreds of bats enveloping the skies at night, and an assortment of fish feeders linger in the vicinity of the lagoon. Owls hoot, intermittently at night breaking the still air into peals of wailing sound bytes. Sometimes, the silence is shattered by the screech of a “Did you do it” bird streaking off to perch on the branch of a tree. Martin undoubtedly is the head prefect, strong in stature and rigid in his right, spectacularly prominent in his brown camouflaged coat as he moves, stealthily, in peace, comfort and harmony, amongst his dwarfed family.

We never saw him fight or squabble, no “Big Boss” small fry divisions of ruling the proletariat. There’s enough fish, shrimp and vegetation for all in the majestic waters of the lagoon, and, Martin is very democratic, and the bulk and the best of his wisdom is based on sharing, based on a simple live and let live doctrine. The birds take their allocated slots in this ancient tableau of water and enjoy the gift of life undisturbed and uncomplicated, laced with an unselfish attitude that we clearly see as their daily bread, in order to sustain life.

Martin rules the roost; he has not much to worry about, just a fish or two or even some insects, to relish and then stretch out and enjoy a quiet siesta in the afternoon, as the day passes and the shadows lengthen with the cloak of darkness approaching nigh. We see him moving stealthily away to wherever he beds for the night and we know we should not enter into his bedroom for mutual respect and gentlemanly privacy. That multiplied by 365 would be a year for him, but that too is of little consequence as he does not measure life by Gregorian or Hijri calendar squares hung on a wall.

We know he hasn’t invested or saved up any money in finance companies or big beastly banks, and has no idea, whatsoever, what world recession is. He does not care what Barak Obama plans for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, or where the G20 mandarins meet next to shake hands, lift up their glasses, and postpone world problems for another “party” day. Little does he know of the Madoffs, Stanfords and Kotelawalas languishing behind cold grey bars for their short-sighted selfishness and greed that have botched up this money-chasing Universe into a chaotic cauldron. He has no wars to fight nor lies to read in print and does not worry about how the price of gold and oil barrels yo-yo in the topsy turvy world markets. He gives two hoots for Dow Jones, Nasdaq or Hang Seng. The widely transmitted Satellite news networks of CNN, BBC, MSNBC, AlJazeera, and even Fox never reach his domain, not for the want of a dish and receiver but purely because he simply doesn’t care. He doesn’t have to worry about what Larry King, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil or even David Letterman have to espouse in seeking to bring news, discussions, gossip, sensation, and laughter to inquisitive and petty minded human beings. Plastic doesn’t mean a thing to him. Why should he worry about who is taking whom out to dinner in LA? To Martin, land is sacred, green is sacred, and water is sacred, and, I am sure he prays at the sacred altars of nature, a worthy worship sans the hymns, candles, drums, bowing, prostration and pageantry, simple to understand, gentle to live, and easy to believe. 

Yes, John Keats created that historic and unforgettable Ode to his beautiful song bird and we simply could not resist the temptation to try and bring about some of the very same sensibilities in prose and define our watchful Water Monitor friend, Martin, in a similar tempo, even though the two live in far off lands, miles away from each other, in remote corners of the planet. Intoxicated with the hemlock of his Nightingale and bemused by the verses that define nature and life in a way that it aught to have been, I am sure Keats won’t mind, since there are people who sing from similar hymn sheets and odes and pursue a “live and let live policy” within their very own faiths. No legacy to lawyer coffers and no prides for protection rights. No cops to be hassled by and no politicians to vote for. It doesn’t even matter what the weather-people have to say today. Life should be simplified, could certainly be simplified and made truly liveable on this great piece we call our beloved Mother Earth.

If Dr. King was still alive and had the chance to visit the Village, he would probably take a leaf from Martin and quote the simple and pure life that he and his fellow creatures are sharing as an example of how we humans could live in our own little acre. The complete respect for each species within this domain based on simple instinct and survival values teaches many a valuable lesson to all of us mere mortal human beings, even with all our wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge.

My heart yearns to be able to pick a day from Martin, just one day, where I could wake up and trudge to some beautiful water heaven and enjoy a melodious moment watching the wind move the waves while a dragonfly flicks over the waterline. I would like to strut in peace with my fellow dwellers, both man and beast, eat fish and rice, some fruit and veges, and watch the slow roll of cartoon white clouds across a sheet of a clear blue sky singing its swan song. Maybe ask a stork how he learnt to make his catch so spritely or tell a cormorant his black is beautiful. Kermit the frog would probably retort with a, “grepep” before he smiles back at me and dives into the depths of the sparkling lagoon hoping to find his Miss Piggy down below? How delightful to engage in some peaceful chatter, while dining, with all of God’s beautiful creatures to pass the time away. 

Maria, our grand daughter, amidst the flowers and stone

Not in the least does it cross his mind that far away, in many distant places where streets are named as Wall and Dalal, Docklands count the pennies, and Bulls and Bears engage in mighty conflict perched on top of roundabouts, through each passing day, there are those who seek to wear and display clothing, ornaments and footwear, made elegantly off the skin of Martin and his fellow creatures sun-kissed backs. He does not celebrate the many wonderful people who engage in vociferous campaigns, protests and marches against the illegal trade in animal fur and hide. If he only had the means and ability to send an email to the WTO management to seek their assistance in banning this evil commerce off the face of this planet? 

And the sun rolls over to its zenith bringing a fresh lease of life everyday to every living species in and around the lagoon. Even the grasshoppers, with their bright little green trousers, make merry singing, hipperty skipperty high and low on the lawn, enjoying the summer fun as they watch Martin pass by.

Once, every calendar month the full moon rolls over, accompanied by the chanting of the monks in the Monastery located on the island in the middle of the Lagoon, their tingling bells resonating a pleasant melody, echoing across the water and then through the brush of the mangroves. Martin looks up and smiles. The light which the moon reflects suits him fine to seek his dinner. The sound of the bells don’t bother him one bit.

Grandkids, Maria & Abdullah, and the Lagoon

No doubt he has to keep an eye on the predators, both man and beast, who prowl around all day and night. Security is never lacking, not even in his neck of the woods. I watch in amazement as our eight year old grandson, Abdullah, chases behind him with a twig, staying a safe distance away for fear that he may turn around and bite. I wonder what goes on in Abdullah’s mind as he innocently wants to play with the lizard, another young and carefree simple human being with fewer qualms and issues in his heart and mind. How similar they both are in so many ways, and yet, how different too? And how very diverse they will eventually grow up to become in this place we call home? Maria, our eleven year old grand daughter chooses to stay as far away from Martin as possible. She has yet to churn up her courage to get any closer.

   Rice and curry, served Paradise style

The tranquillity that this place brings into human hearts cannot be fathomed unless one visits and experiences it at a very personal level. In real time, the appetising aroma that seeps from the kitchen that the owner, Abey, cares for so much with his able chef and assistant, must surely kindle Martin and his friends’ senses even though he knows he does not have access to any of it unless he manages to steal a scrap or two from the waste bins after dark. We relish the food and walk towards the water after the sun has gone down and watch the stillness of the night in absolute awe. If you ever want to conjure up a little bit of Heaven on earth then you must visit Eco Village before you depart.

Maybe we can change roles with our Lizard friend, borrow  his lifestyle, if not all, at least some sediments, then maybe we too could have a better day, a better life and a better view of what’s around all of us, and learn the rudiments of how to appreciate living, sharing, and contentment?

Thank you Martin for opening our eyes and letting us see the beauty of life, since they’ve been shut in ignorance for way too long.  

 Writing about Martin with young Abdullah, our Grandson, by my side

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books." John Lubbock

"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." William Shakespeare

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