"ORANJE! "
Vina shouts in triumph;

orange is finally hers
(and is the squirrel's, to boot,
an alteration borne with far less liking).

After days of sampling, number crunching, hours of trial and error, a reddish, Irish-setter-ish hue endows both Vina and her subject, girl and squirrel elated / consternated, thrilled / morosely silent, one exuding puffed-up pride / the other one's sense-of-self gone flat - observed covertly by the Bogeyman from his shadow-clad blind.

Dede, true to form, has witnessed Vina's machinations with a mixture of detachment and unqualified dismay. Position static as a statue, in the Lab's luxuriant foliage (like a figure in a painting by Rousseau),

his silhouette communicates two-thirds reassuring presence, one-third lurking menace. He is honor-bound to shield and shelter, predisposed to censure, thus beleaguered by a conflict-wracked predicament.

Vina is not Allah, yet she tampers with Creation in a manner disrespectful, diabolical, vile, depraved - albeit childishly oblivious to the weight of her transgressions. Were she taught (like all good Muslims) right from wrong through the Shari'ah, she would surely cease such gross misconduct. Barring that, what hope? Without an ibu to instill restraint, an ustad to instruct her, or a bapak bent on discipline, Vina's wayward ways are paved - a tragic fast-track straight from innocence to Neraka.

Nothing could be any worse, in Dede's estimation - first to jeopardize, then to lose ones soul, is a fate beyond all grief. Yet Vina suffers from a circumstance compounding sure damnation; she is bound for Hell without companions. On her own all week, she neither plays with other children nor is privy to their counsel. When exposed to peers, on most occasions, Vina fails to speak. Or, if she does, she speaks in Netherlandic; Dutch not Indonesian. Or in English. Or in French. And not in common words; in rhyme - as if to add a bit of challenge to these otherwise dull encounters; Vina versifies - which the Bugis finds perverse, if not unkind, because it... 

What's she up to now? He stands on tiptoe, parts the shadows like a necromancer itching to evoke some arcane spell, observing...

...Vina, mirror in hand, appraising hairdo highlights, preening, with a smile of joie de vivre across her face... until she scowls. The squirrel's appendage, in reflection, forms a question mark... that quivers. Asking what? Of whom? She turns, beholds a pair of rodent eyes imbued with something kin to consciousness (?) Impossible. To intelligence (?) Most unlikely. Or to wit (?) Absurd. The genes she spliced, self-styled, were true-enough human, to ensure against a backlash of resistance (when exchanging DNA cross-species antibodies swarm, unless accompanied by markers that can fool each into thinking that the other is a user-friendly aspect of itself - a rather cutting-edge technique Vina deemed 'perfected').

"Wow! It winked!"

Instead of taking on a single trait, the squirrel, it would seem, took many. It looks sentient, somehow... thoughtful, as she studies it... smart... unique... as if an anthropoid contagion had been ushered in, dividing, reproducing countless cells in replication... gaining pace... a clear-cut acumen residing in the whisker-twitching features, beady eyes directed critically, if she reads them rightly, piqued, a tacit attitude copped of "orange is not my color."

"Don't you look at me like that, you makeshift lab rat ingrate!"

Vina's vehemence, in the midst of celebration, shocks herself. Without its saying so (How could it; squirrels can't talk?), it 'beams' displeasure, and 'presumes' to place the blame, for its unhappy state, on her.

Which is inane, of course, since animals lack the knack for true emotions. They react to pain and pleasure, no denying it, little else. Hence Vina keeps them housed and clean and fed (the servants do, at any rate). If one dies, she has it buried. If one ails, she makes it well. If one escapes (and does so cleverly), she will sometimes grant its freedom.

But if one, perchance, accuses her of crimes and misdemeanors, puts on airs, or dares to question (zero precedents) who is boss...

"Blender!" Vina threatens, when the squirrel persists in glowering... then relents... appears to relapse:

vision blurs, tail droops, wits dull.

It now plays dumb. Or was it always stupid?

Vina reconsiders. Did the creature really wink and look askance at her or not?

One thing for certain, she consoles herself, at last she is a redhead!

Joy restored, she races off to report to Dad.

*

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