Chapter 3

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

One wingless monochromatic cutie lands on Mrs. Whitman, taking down her green pastel beret with it. 

“My dear Lord, have mercy. What on earth is this?” screams the horrified lady. 

Six of those otherwise delightful avian species are struggling on the kitchen floor, trying to get back on their feet. They are wearing sleeveless neon orange floral vests, their flippers neatly coming out of the armholes.  

It is an old house and one never knows which fixture or structure will come down at the slightest provocation. The rent is cheap so we don't mind fixing things once in a while. But we never have enough money for proper upkeep and now it shows.  

The common bathroom is just above the kitchen. The penguins must have had a frolicking time there the whole night until the ceiling gave way. 

Gerard herds the birds and shoos them out the kitchen door into the backyard, taking with them the last vestiges of our doomed relationship.   

“What are those creatures doing in the house?” Mrs. Whitman manages to demand despite the shock.

Gerard volunteers a response. 

“Hmmm, I am taking part in a beauty contest for animals. The best groomed and dressed participant will receive a prize of $10,000. To increase my chances of winning, I am going to enter several different contestants.” 

Finally Gerard has revealed his master plan.

There is stunned silence for a long time. Then it is shattered by Mrs. Whitman’s shriek.

“A beauty contest for whom? Goodness gracious, what will they think of next?” 

Our little party is disrupted by loud knocking on the front door which I have forgotten to close. Two policemen walk in with astonished expressions on their faces.

“There is a decorated camel on the front lawn. Does it belong to any of you?” asks one of them.

No one answers. Mrs. Whitman’s face turns ashen, realisation finally dawning upon her as to the culprit behind her half-chewed prized flowers. 

“Oh really?” I answer, faking surprise, “I wonder how it got there.”   

Moving out to the lawn, we watch the camel munching on the grass, the broken garage door bearing testimony to its escape.

“Well, it must belong to someone! We are quite far from the desert so it’s unlikely that stray camels would wander into our neighbourhood,” Mrs. Whitman declares caustically, glaring at Gerard.   

As if on cue, a delivery van stops in front of the house. A young man with a bulky parcel steps out and walks straight up to Gerard.

“Two white tutus for the hippos and four pink ones for the ostriches Mr. Gerard. Hope they fit,” he says jovially.  

The worst is yet to come.

The officers convulse in alarm as they spot six floral vested penguins waddle out the backyard, which has no gate to keep them in, onto the driveway.

Talk about perfect timing!

“You might as well tell the officers the whereabouts of the remaining beauty contestants Gerard,” Mrs. Whitman snaps.



This is fabulous Hemali. It is crazy and I laughed all the way through. The strange thing was I found myself thinking...this could happen, then reminding myself it was impossible...penguins and camels? In the same place? It is genius. The characters are wonderful caricatures. You've captured them so well I could see Mrs. Whitman in my imagination as a kind of cartoon character and the policemen also. You also tied it into the starter with the camel in the garden without making if feel forced. That takes skill.
Hemali, this is just such a brilliant turn in the story and so funny. I can just see the officers' faces as the animals appear. Hilarious!