The little boy went to the corner of the hut and fished out a matchbox from his school bag. He had not told anyone about his secret pet: A Ponvandu*. The colorful insect emerged out of the matchbox when he slid the lid off; its body iridescent as it reflected the morning sunlight in myriad colors in a thousand angles. A bonsai version of an impossible aurora borealis. The wings covered a heavy body. It would have to think twice before flying. A peacock among the insects. The wings resembled – indeed more than just resembled – the shields of an ancient warrior. The wings defended the ponvandu; they attracted mates; they dazzled in the expressions of their sexuality. It bore into trees and lived on a diet of dead wood. The ponvandu was almost 1 1/2 inches long – the cratered head and wings separated by a precipitous wedge that looked sinister. The ponvandu would snap its head against the edge of the wings if anything tried crawling into the wedge – a survival instinct to protect the exposed soft body underneath. The boy prodded the ponvandu making it snap its neck. And giggled.
*Ponvandu – Tamil name for Jewel Beetle.