Then it turned into an obsession. Most of my holidays there after were spent hunting for caterpillars. Green, red,black,brown and even blonde. Sometimes my cousin and I would come back with a matchbox for my grandmother that was full of caterpillars neatly arranged next to each other! Someone also told us that if you feed them mulberry leaves they turn into butterflies. So we tried to set up the butterfly-fication experiment for our poor guinea caterpillars. Each matchbox had our hostage caterpillar and a mulberry leaf. :)
Since we had raspberry vine and mulberry tree growing out in the front yard it was very easy.
One day went by and there was still no sign of butterfly. With our four and five year old patience glands, it was really difficult to carry on with our experiment beyond five days. There was severe grandparental pressure too, that came from some sort of humanitarian approach. At the end of four days we had a martyr. So we decided to stop the experiment because ajji told us that God would not like it.
All along that summer, we used to get caterpillar bombs from the roof all the time. I remember waking up after several afternoon naps with caterpillar hair stuck to my neck or my back. Ajji used to rub marigold leaves on it to calm us down. The green ones were the worst. It was like getting stung by a bee.
On days when the hot summer evening would unfold into something that fermented my thoughts, I used to use the caterpillar sting to get rid of all my four-year-old anxieties. :)
At others, I used to observe my caterpillar-squish-mark with great pride.
It seems like a really long time now but it feels like it was yesterday. I went to meet my cousin at her in-laws house this time when I went to Kolhapur. She was dressed in a sari with a big "mangalsutra" around her neck. All day she told me how she manages her new house and what her husband likes the best from all her inherited recipes. I was still coming to terms though with not trying to look at her as the girl in our caterpillar experiments.
I guess the reason why we revisit these kind of memories is because it is boring living in a world where there are very few "first times" left. Nothing I do now matches the joy of looking at a hairy worm and finding out that it is called a caterpillar. Of knowing that it is the raw-material for butterflies!