By Anu Kandikuppa

Ocimum basilicum
is an easy-to-grow tender herb that likes a warm, sunny site with good air circulation. It is sensitive to frost and cold; wait until the soil and air has warmed (night temperatures consistently above 50°F) to put your plant in a container or in the ground outside. Average to rich, well-drained soil will keep your plant growing well. Water when the top inch of soil is dry, and feed monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Harvest by cutting off branches and removing the leaves. Pinch off flower buds assertively to stop your plant from seeding and keep it producing stems and leaves in the pleasing round shape for which you bought it.

Canis familiaris, commonly known as the dog, is an easy-to-keep animal that likes a warm, cozy house with comfortable beds. Canis comes in many types with a wide range of sizes and temperaments, all of which can give you years of love and play. A diet full of lean protein and minimum carbohydrates, and moderate exercise daily will keep your pet happy. Some varieties do not like the heat, so make sure to keep them cool. At about six months of age, pinch off the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus from the female, and the testes from the male. Doing so will keep your pet from exhibiting many behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct and eliminate the possibility of unwanted young. In varieties with long, strong tails, pinch off the tail an inch from the rump to save your legs from painful thwacks.

Homo sapiens, commonly known as humans, are rather more demanding but provide a lifetime of diversion for those up to the challenge. We recommend that you obtain yours after the age of four, when they can take care of their own toilet. Homo is not a picky eater and will thrive on almost anything; we suggest you limit fat and starch from his diet and provide the use of a track, preferably indoors, where he may stretch his legs. Homo needs something to occupy her mind; keep her busy with a steady supply of comics and puzzles, and a range of television. At about twelve years of age, the reproductive organs mature. Unlike canis, homo ruts all year round, therefore it is imperative to amend their bodies immediately upon maturation in a manner similar to canis, particularly if you own one of each sex, which we do not advise. (Note: The squall of their young is particularly offensive to the ears.) Homo is known to be fickle; keep yours strictly at home and he will love you and only you, unconditionally and forever. Lastly, you might know that homo loves to sing. Once or twice a week, dim the lights after dinner, offer him a modest drink, and relax as he nestles to you, lets out an enormous sigh, and begins. Do not worry if his trill sounds mournful. You are doing everything you can.

Anu Kandikuppa’s flash fiction has appeared in Gone Lawn, Jellyfish Review, and The Cincinnati Review (miCRo) and her short stories have appeared or will appear in Calyx, Epiphany, The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Her work has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. Anu worked as an economics consultant in a former life and lives in Boston.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Mixed Media)

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