Growing up in the outskirts of a sleepy Town, Tyra and her family have had the misfortune of having their house burglarized several times. Once it happened in the middle of the day when her dad was at work, her mother was out on market-day and all the children were in school. Mother would be the first one back home and the scare would take her over to a neighbor’s house to wait until the bus brought the children back home. Another time it was while they were celebrating a party and the doors out back were left unlocked. And twice already when the family was fast asleep.
There never is a good or better time to have someone come in to rummage around in your private space but to have someone in your home while you are asleep has to be the worst time. The scariest too.
After something like that happens, you become keen at spotting whether or not something has been touched and intentionally left behind and somehow everything you touch smells different. Your sense of smells becomes amplified and you know what you know.
That’s exactly how Tyra felt that Wednesday morning in October as soon as she woke up.
She looked around her room. She could smell it. Strange. Everything was like it had been the night before except for that strange putrid smell.
She went down the stairs where her family was getting ready for the day ahead. Strange again. There was too much commotion for a Wednesday.
“I knew it, I knew it,” she blurted out, “what did they take this time?”
“Who?” they all replied in unison.
“What happened to good morning,” her mother chirped as she planted a kiss on Tyra’s forehead, “I’ll have to get a bag of peanuts at the store this week. Oh isn’t it exciting? They’ll have the tent up by the end of the week.”
“ and the parade will be on Saturday,” Luna interrupted, “I’ll wear my new skinny jeans and the purple top that I got for my birthday.”
“What happened? Nothing stolen? ” Tyra still didn’t get it.
“The Circus, silly. The Circus is in town. That’s what happened. Hurry up, or we’ll be late for the bus.”
Like a thief in the night, the Circus had come to the Town of Macondo. Yes yes, that was exciting. But in her mind, only thieves moved around at night.
Tyra was 9 years old with a cultured nose. Their house was the last house built nearly three years ago in a newly developed area. The Circus used to come to this town every year but the three-year hiatus, brought about by the recent economic decline, had caused her to forget all about circuses, clowns, elephants, and peanuts.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday zoomed by with new found positive vibes. The stench from the animals which when mingled with the salty sea breeze become exacerbated slowly became less of a bad stench to those living in such proximity to the circus grounds. Tyra stopped dabbing Vicks Vapo Rub on her nose, with ambivalence at first and then fully determined to stop the practice when her school friends started likening her to smelling like their grandmothers. The last thing she wanted was to smell like her own grandmother who, while sweet and caring, smelled like old pee and Vicks.
“What are we going to do with you and your detective-nose,” her mother would tease, “perhaps you’ll grow up to be a smell-connoisseur,” she’d add.
This always confused Tyra because she couldn’t get a straight answer from any of her teachers about any such profession. And even mother didn’t offer an explanation when Tyra questioned her about it. So Tyra would just dismiss the question. She didn’t like asking too many childish questions because she hoped that her family would stop referring to her as the baby in the family.
That Friday the excitement was hard to curtail. October was a good time for circuses as the air wasn’t as humid as it was the rest of the year. Sunsets came too early though, so the parade was scheduled right after school. This was a safari parade at its best. The animals, and oh what animals, wore festive decorations. There were horses and ponies and zebras. There were tigers and camels and monkeys and dogs. The horses wore bells on their legs that jingled as they pranced along and huge ribbons decorated their tails. The acrobats that sat on the horses looked like Belles straight out of a western movie with their pleated long dresses and plumed hats. They waved and blew kisses at the crowd.
The elephants, all 6 of them with their smiling faces and long trunks walked on their hind legs and rested their front legs, on the waist of the elephant in front of them. They wore fancy belts around their big ears and these were attached to big round rubies and sapphires clustered like grapes that dangled in the middle of their foreheads. And on their legs they wore neon anklets. They got on all fours and went around in circles at regular intervals, much to the oohs and awes of grownups and kids alike. Only the elephant at the head of the group had a long ivory tusk and on that elephant sat a girl with a sequenced outfit and a top hat. There was an elegant gold and red cart full of puppies dressed in little girls’ outfits and this was pulled by two young cows. And a couple of monkeys rode in a caged trailer pulled by someone who impersonated The Terminator. The clowns provided the music and the girls on the unicycles looked like tall Christmas trees with LED lights that moved like disco lights. It was quite The Parade of the year and everyone came out to enjoy it. Only, except for the dogs and the monkeys, the animals weren’t real. They were all engineered by the acrobats themselves who believed that a circus was no place for wild animals. The dogs each had their respective owners as did the monkeys and no animal was ever in any kind of danger of abuse or mistreatment.
The next day and the week that followed people lined up to enter the circus tents. Once settled in, they would take out their bags of peanuts. They’d eat some between taking pictures, and talked and clapped as they were entertained with funny antics from the clowns and animal tricks and acrobatics.
Long after the Circus had left, in every corner of the sleepy town, people could still be heard talking and reliving the excitement. The burglaries became less and a new sense of camaraderie was born. All thanks to the Circus.