Chapter in a Nutshell

The story ‘Zigzag’ written by Asha Nehemiah is about a pet that causes a lot of commotion at the Krishnan family’s residence. Dr. Somu requested his cousin, Dr. Krishnan, to take care of his pet bird, Zigzag, as he left for Alaska. According to Dr. Krishnan, ’Zigzag’ was the most lovable, unusual, and harmless bird.

But Mrs. Krishnan was not happy with the arrival of the new pet. Zigzag did not interact much with the children and the moment it slept, it snored loudly. The snoring of the Zigzag pounded the eardrums of Krishnan’s family members and their neighbours.

Somu’s Misunderstanding

Dr. Ashok T. Krishnan’s clinic usually sounded like a Chinese torture chamber because of the children crying loudly and making a lot of noise. Dr. Krishnan had to apologize to his wife as when his cousin Somu had called him to ask if he could take care of his pet when he leaves for Alaska, he refused but because of the noise, Somu misunderstood and thought that Dr. Ashok had agreed to his request.

Maya knew it was ‘Zigzag’ but wasn’t sure which animal and thought it to be Uncle Somu’s giant green-and-gold fighting beetle that spits deadly poison and Arvind thought it was a snake. Dr. Krishnan looking at Mrs. Krishnan’s horrified expression confirmed it was neither of the two, “Zigzag is the most harmless, unusual and loveable bird” gifted by an African witch doctor to Somu for curing his son while Somu was touring in Africa.

Mrs. Krishnan didn’t want to keep any more of Somu’s belongings

Mrs. Krishnan while she was painting didn’t like the idea of having another of Somu’s “favorite” possessions and stopped to remind everyone of the unusual insect-eating plant that Somu had brought from the Amazonian rainforest which required a room heater to keep it alive is a place like Chennai which is already pretty hot throughout the year.

Arvind however, protested and reminded her of the tiny penknife with a genuine shark tooth blade that was gifted by his uncle and Maya in addition reminded of the boomerang that Uncle Somu brought from Australia to which Mrs. Krishnan replies sarcastically and reminded the children of the damages these gifts had caused and how unsafe they were.

Dr. Krishnan assured his wife that the bird won’t cause any trouble

Dr. Krishnan tried to assure Mrs. Krishnan that zigzag won’t be of any harm as it is a bird that is multilingual and can sing as well. Mrs. Krishnan was still not convinced and called it bad timing as she was supposed to exhibit her paintings next week. However, she had no other choice but to accept it. 

Zigzag was introduced in the family

The children were excited about the bird and when Visu brought it to their house, the appearance was unique which they had never seen before. Visu introduced the bird and talked very highly of him but it didn’t match when the children tried to interact with Zigzag, he appeared cold, unmoved, and grumpy. Arvind made efforts of bringing him juicy fruits and walnut so that they become familiar with each other but Zigzag refused to speak instead flew clumsily to deposit the fruits and nuts in the chandelier and the blades of the ceiling fan.

The chaos as soon as Visu left

When Visu left, the children didn’t have to wait for more than ten minutes to listen to Zigzag, he soon fell asleep and began to snore. The snore became louder and louder as time passed by as if a herd of cold elephants are trumpeting angrily. Zigzag’s snore pounded their eardrum till their heads ached. The children tried to wake up the bird but nothing worked and he slept undisturbed and snored on.

Mrs. Krishnan’s masterpiece gets ruined 

In total despair at the failure to wake Zigzag everyone shut themselves in a bedroom far away from Mrs. Krishnan’s studio where Zigzag was creating the terrible noise and put cotton buds in their ear. Lakshmi the maid not knowing about the bird or anything had switched off the fan of the studio and started shouting as if she had an electric shock.

Everyone rushed to the studio and found Lakshmi dancing and clapping her hand excitedly because she thought that they have been blessed by the gods as it was raining papayas and bananas in the room. Some fruits hit Lakshmi and some splattered all over Mrs. Krishnan’s masterpiece ruining it. Mrs. Krishnan got so angry that she was ready to shoot Zigzag yet he slept on unconcerned and snored on.

Complains from the Neighbors

Mrs. Krishnan got so exhausted that she rang up to complain to her husband and told how the neighbors have been calling her for the noise and the art critic who lives upstairs Mrs. Jhunjhunwala asks her to sing a little softly thinking it is Mrs. Krishnan making the noise. Dr. Krishnan came home as fast as he could after leaving an email message for Somu. Six days had passed by yet there was no reply from Somu.

The children got so frustrated with the noise that Maya could hear it even when she was miles away from home and Arvind for the first time would look forward to going to school as he found it as calm as a monastery when compared to the house.  Zigzag would only wake up to eat fruits and sometimes sit on the veranda bored looking at the sunset at Marina beach. Everyone tried many times to speak to him but all he did was sleep and snore.

Mrs. Krishnan couldn’t bear Zigzag anymore

Annoyed Mrs. Krishnan asked Dr. Krishnan to take the bird away as soon as possible and thus he takes him to his clinic having no choice left. Dr. Krishnan instructed Zigzag to stay in the car yet when he went to the clinic all he could think about was the noise he would create adding to the noise made by the kids already.

However, Zigzag went to the reception table and commanded the children to keep quiet and entertained then. Dr. Krishna was amazed as he had never seen his clinic be so peaceful and orderly. Best of all Zigzag wasn’t bored and didn’t sleep.

The Krishnan family realizes Zigzag’s true worth

Now Mr. Krishnan understood why Somu and Visu spoke so highly of the bird. Mrs. Krishnan called right on time and informed that Mrs. Jhunjhunwala, the art critic bought the ruined painting for herself and loved the fruity touch. The story ends with Mrs. Krishnan accepting to let Zigzag stay at their home and value him. Dr. Krishnan gave the bird a toffee from his desk as a compliment, but he didn’t bother to reply and just ate the toffee, paper wrapper and all, and then lowered one crinkly eyelid in a knowing wink.

Conclusion

Asha Nehemiah shows comedy, fantasy mystery, and adventure as strong elements in her work. In the story, she humorously pictured the savagery and good behavior of a pet bird named Zigzag. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Anyone who sits and lazes around without doing anything is called an idle person. Not only does such a person waste his time but they often end being a nuisance to society. They start doing things that disturb and irritate people around them.

In the same way, Zigzag was a lovable, harmless, and unusual bird. Apparently, it was bred by a genuine African witch doctor and he was used to being with a doctor and helping him with his tasks. Since he was kept at Dr. Krishnan’s home, he had no work and thus he would sit idle and start behaving haphazardly and creating such a commotion at their house.

As soon as Dr. Krishnan took Zigzag to his clinic, he started commanding everyone in the clinic and started doing his job, for which he was trained earlier by the African witch doctor. He was an absolute treasure and a great help to the family.