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 early February, when the dry season was at its peak. The temperature had risen over the last three days. Bangkok was 90 degrees and it was a whopping 96 in Phuket. The steamy tropical weather had spread across the entire peninsula and our stop-over on the third largest island in Thailand – Koh Samui was not spared.
In this 247 km2 island, where 90% are Buddhist, it is home to a population of 40,000 inhabitants and a hub 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, constantly changing colors from many shades of playful blue to dazzling emerald.
I saw our housemate on the second day, this time above the toilet seat which was becoming his favorite spot. I started to get curious about his actions. His nightly rituals would start as soon as he crawls out from the dark corner of the gutter. Then he would prowl around and after the entire brigade of cicadas 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 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 like human genitals, elephant rides and 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 being close to nature. I don’t know but every time I watch the clouds go by, I feel at ease. There was peace and it was blissful. And for the remaining hours, I would lay motionless, just like my housemate. I would listen very carefully to what’s happening around me. I waited until everything became acute and lucid. Finally, with every detail so clear, I heard the sound of the soft gust of winds blowing in from the west; I felt the trees swaying in motion and the waves slowly washing the sands.
It occurred to me that I was beginning to think like the lizard in our villa. Adopting his admirable kind of philosophy, my senses had been awakened and I began to understand 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 witness the beauty of nature. The splash of the cold water had soothed my stiff muscles. Just as I came out of the pool, I lost my balance but I was quick enough to 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 guests from every villa gathered on the shore for the floating lantern activity, one by one, each of them lit their lanterns and released them to freedom. The evening breeze propelled the lanterns 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.
When it was time for me to light my lantern, I remembered my housemate’s loud 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.