Sunday, October 18, 2009

A lesson from Silkworms

I have banned any and all additional living things in this house. This is not Johannesburg. This is Cairp Tahn and houses are built on postage stamps here – given the fact that we are all crammed into a tiny little area around the mountain.

Now I’m not complaining, you understand. It is just that one has to cut one’s animal kingdom according to ones available space – that’s just the way it is. My partner Leon, who has this need to foster everything that breathes, would happily incorporate cats, dogs, hamsters, birds and fish – not to mention more children – into our environment. But I put my stiletto firmly down on this score. I said no more living creatures!

It’s not that I don’t like living things. I do. I have had my fair share of attachments to cats, dogs, budgerigars, etc – but not for here. That’s all I am saying. So when the kids look at me with big brown eyes and say “Daddie, please can we have a dog?” I say “No!” When they beg for a fluffy little kitten, I say “No!” When they look longingly at a fish tank, I say “No!”

They have learnt their lesson and they know that I am serious. Last year, they thought they had all trumped me. I was told that there was a lame bird which had been found. I looked into the box to see the creature which Joshua, the youngest, was force feeding and saw that it was a bloody Starling – the avian equivalent of a rat. I threw it over the fence. They knew I was serious about this thing after that.

But then I relented.

Silkworms, I was told, don’t make a mess. Silkworms can be kept in a box. Every child needs to have Silkworms in order to understand the meaning of life. So, Leon went onto the internet and found some clever entrepreneurial child down the road who was selling them by the barrel-load for seemingly low prices.

They were fetched. They started eating Mulberry leaves by the sack full . One child wouldn’t touch them. The other wouldn’t leave them alone. That lasted for a few days. Then I started noticing that the leaves which they were supposed to be feeding on were looking a bit like that stuff they put around Sushi – rather dry. The poor things were starting to chew on the cardboard box in desperation. Why? Because the novelty had been lost somewhere – and boredom with the endlessly munching creatures had begun to set in. The childminder was sent out, with a child, to get the leaves – and so it continued.

Then the cocooning started. Some of the worms escaped and started making cocoons on the floor, on the wall, on the furniture. Then the 2 week wait and finally those dreadful moths emerged, buzzing and flapping and mating and producing millions of eggs.

Oh yes, there have been one or two discussions about the cycle of life. But not enough, I would say, to justify all the effort. And now, my question is – do we wait for the eggs to hatch next year? Or do we turf them now and just pretend that is where the cycle of life ended? Or should we just buy a nice, clean, worry free – book? Um.. gosh – what a difficult choice! From now on, I am sticking to my rule!


  1. do you have any dog stories - those would also be good to hear?

  2. ok am taking your silence to suggest you are fresh out of how about a fluffy little kitten story then?