Monday, July 9, 2012

Lizard Hunters

"We're hunting lizards!"
"There!" Eight weathervane arms indicate the shrubbery shadows beside Immanuel Church in central Jakarta.
The scaly captives are exhibited in the arena between the boys' huddled bodies. They jostle against each other, all elbows and earnest eyes. Their fingers clamp the reptiles by the head, popping open the lizard jaws like snapping snapdragons. One boy wears his lizard like a rosette. Another whirls his lizard like a helicopter blade above his head. They peer at the lizard genitalia, comparing discoveries.

"Buy one," chances one boy. "Just Rp 10,000." ($1.00)
"You can have mine for Rp 5,000," undercuts a second.
"Or mine for five dollars," tenders a third.
"You want to hold it?"
The tawny Squamata has copper eyes and a jagged punk-crest. Its minuscule five-claw paws grasp my fingers and its jaw opens in silent protest. "Pinch it by the head," advises the boy. The lizard is panting hard.
Planting the lizards on the grass, the boys curtail any great escapes by standing on the lizards' tails. One boy hovers the sole of his shoe above a lizard's head as if to stamp on it.

"Careful! They're small and fragile and scared." The boys regard me fleetingly, then set the lizards free.

The lizards are divided in strategy: some sit stonily inanimate in the lush grass; others flee, their bodies undulating in S-shaped flight.
But the boys are like cats. They give the lizards a momentary head start and then whoop and war-cry through the churchyard in lightning pursuit.

1 comment:

  1. Very cute. I'm sure I had one of those same lizards on a tree outside my house. We watched each other for several minutes, then he decided to take off and I never saw him again. I wondered how common they are in Indonesia as I haven't seen many. But perhaps they keep out of sight.

    Thanks for your lovely posts. Very interesting.