The sight of a solid, 20-inch bluish-green body adorned with protruding red spots greeted us.
In perfect stillness, I saw him glued to the wall like an exquisite adornment. His physical demeanor told me to stay away. Yet the more time we spend together, the more I get to know him better.
It was back in early February, when the dry season was at its peak. The temperature had risen over the last three days. Bangkok was 90 degrees, while Phuket a whopping 96. The steamy tropical weather had spread across the entire peninsula all the way to the country’s third largest island – Koh Samui.
Home to a population of more than 40,000 inhabitants of which 90% are Buddhist, the 247 km2 island is also a place of residence to a Tokay gecko community. In the villa that we rented, we were sharing space with one of its kind. There were other geckos in the area, but our housemate seemed to know how to get the best location. From the terrace, the view was of towering coconut palm trees punctuated by the ocean, a constant change of shades of playful blue to dazzling emerald.
On the second day, I saw our housemate saddled above the toilet seat which was to become his favorite spot. His actions roused a certain curiosity in me. His nightly rituals commences after crawling out from safety the confines of gutter. Then he would prowl around and after the entire brigade of cicadas had finished their chorus, like an opera singer in an aria, he would perform his tok-ko solo. He would stay motionless for many hours, waiting for something and just before the first crack of dawn he would disappear.
I had an eventful bucket list of the things to do, for it was my first time in Koh Samui. I planned to visit the big Buddha, the Ang Thong National Marine Park where Alex Garland’s novel “The Beach” was filmed, the Namuang waterfall, the mummified monk at Wat Khunaram, the legendary Hin Ta (male) and Hin Yai (female) at Lamai beach resembling human genitals, encounter elephant as well as ladyboys.
But rather than going through all of my travel itineraries, my housemate’s Zen-like ways had so much influence on me that I decided to spend more of my time doing nothing except being with nature. I don’t know but every time I watched the clouds go by, I felt at ease. There was peace and it was blissful. And for the remaining hours, I would lay motionless, just like my housemate. Listening in and paying close attention to my surroundings until everything is acute and lucid. I felt the shift of the wind, heard its soft whisper now blowing in from the west instead of east. With eyes closed, I could almost make out the swaying of trees, leaves rustling in a certain cadence as well as the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore.
It occurred to me that I was beginning to think like the lizard in our villa. Adopting his admirable kind of philosophy, my senses heightened and slowly warming up to the concept of patience. I’m still antsy about some things but I can say that I am a work in progress. Needless to say, the art of meditating had worked wonders, thanks to my four-legged Zen master. That afternoon, I went out again to be with nature or rather become part of it. Then went in for a swim. The splash of the cold water soothed my stiff muscles after my inanimate imitation inspired by my housemate. Just as I came out of the pool, I completely lost my balance but was able to quickly grasp the sides of the rock demonstrating what my friend taught me, an adhesive-like reaction.
If we were to visit Koh Samui again, it would be between April and September which are the best months avoiding the driest season that is from January to March. The heat undoubtedly brings out the geckos from their hibernation.
During our last day, his presence was not felt that night. I did not see him in his favorite spot.
As all the hotel guests gathered on the shore for the floating lantern activity, each lit their lanterns and released them to freedom. The evening breeze propelled them up into the sky until they looked like tiny sparks produced by the butt of a firefly. And if it turns out to be a bug, the poor creature will be eaten by my housemate and soon be part of the food chain.
I thought of my housemate’s staccato croak that woke me during my nightly slumber. “Tok-ko! Tok-ko!” as he would repeatedly say. For that brief close encounter, I was grateful for his wisdom. In the back of my mind, I saw his solid, 20-inch bluish-green body adorned with protruding red spots. I closed my eyes, let go of my lantern and wished everyone and him a good night.