In true life my friend lived in the backyard of my uncle the zoologist. He was a skeleton—my friend not my uncle—with two smooth black horns. I could really see him—really—but I didn’t tell anybody because they always laugh. Already they were laughing at me because my teeth were all falling out—so why more.
Father put a towel around my tooth called premolar and said I’m just checking that’s all, but not really because he pulled and I said aargh and the tooth came out. He said sorry but his cheeks had a smile inside. In some countries you can get money for that so I asked him can I get twenty? and he said oh? So I just buried it under the neem.
He was a skeleton—my friend not my uncle—with two smooth black horns.
My friend was a nilgai. It means blue cow but he was an antelope in true life. He was 4 feet 8 inches tall—I checked. He was bigger than me but I could put my arm around his shoulder easy. I looked him up in my uncle’s book called Encyclopaedia Britannica and it said Boselaphus tragocamelus. It also said he was a ruminant. I said what and he showed me. It was gross—I laughed.
He put his snout—which is nose and mouth together—on my arm and said okay. I hugged his skull tight in the crook of my elbow, pulled out his tooth—the one that was already shaking—pushed it into the hole where my premolar used to be and said coming! because Mother was calling me.
They have stopped laughing at me. I floss extra careful around his tooth every time. He’s gone now but the book also said nilgai are only moderately gregarious—that means he likes to be with other nilgai only sometimes—so I’m waiting.
Kanya Kanchana is an emerging poet, writer, and translator. Her work has appeared in Asymptote Journal, The Common, Hobart, and Buffalo Almanack, and is forthcoming in TrinityJoLT, Aldus Journal, and Circumference.
Illustration by Jeremy Anderson.