The calls of the gecko

by Sim Phally

Ich und alle anderen (Ausgabe IV/2016)


A tokeh. Illustration: Stephanie F. Scholz

When evening falls in Cambodia, a loud call often rings through the houses, that comes very close to the word "tokeh." Tokeh is also the name of the gecko that produces this incomparable sound and which sits hidden on the ceilings and walls of the houses. It is well worth listening more closely.

According to old Cambodian wisdom it is good luck if the gecko makes the Tokeh call more than seven times. Eight calls bring prosperity to the family, nine calls promise social recognition and eleven calls mean you are set to rise to an elevated professional position. Less than seven calls, however, spell bad luck.

Because it is considered a lucky charm, the blue-grey and red spotted gecko is a welcome guest in every household in Cambodia. The nocturnal animal also has a practical use: It eats insects, especially those unpopular mosquitoes, thus protecting house dwellers from insect bites. In Cambodia, where dengue fever and malaria are common, this is more than welcome. So when visiting Cambodia, it is important to listen out for the Tokeh. It spells happiness – and some respite from mosquitoes!

Translated by Jess Smee

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