In spite of our travails with the AC guys and the difficulty of packing all the stuff from our three-storied house in Shillong into a single room here in Ludhiana, we settled in surprisingly easily to our new lodgings. In fact, I was quite enjoying the cosiness of our room as well as the fact that everything was so easily accessible. In Shillong, while we really loved our big house that gave us a feeling of royalty, it also meant that many things were unused for long periods. You see, it was pretty cold out there in the mountains and once we got home, the tendency was to get under the covers as soon as possible. And once under them, we were loath to get out into the cold again. So it happened that most of the essentials of life would be arranger around the bed allowing easy access. Things like my keyboard, the music system, the beanbag and so on were in the 'living room', which became the least entered room of the house! So now, with everything arranged quite innovatively by my dear wife in our single room, we have the joy of listening to beautiful worship music in the mornings, plonking down on the beanbag after a long day's work and other pleasures that we had forgotten in our mansion in Shillong. But, I digress!!
As I was saying, we had settled in well into our cosy dwelling and all was well with the world. Until the peace of our existence was unexpectedly shattered one evening about a week ago. I had just settled down into my usual position in bed with a good book and Amy was in her usual position - fast asleep beside me, when I noticed some movement of the door of one of our wall cupboards. I looked up just in time to see a long tail disappearing at the top of the door into the cupboard. Not allowing the shock to disconcert me, with lightening speed (I think!) I jumped out of the bed, closed the door and locked it on the beast. With the door between us and the monster I gathered my wits (what were left of them) about me. Now we had heard many stories of the local rat infestation, but as with all calamities, one never thinks it is going to happen to one, does one?! The book forgotten, I roused Amy, and we held a council of war to discuss the defense of our dwelling. In our excited state, many schemes and plans were suggested, some full of promise and others as wild as the wind, but I will not bore you with all the gory details. Suffice to say that the workings of our minds were seriously hindered by the terror that lingered behind that silent door!
Our ruminations may have continued indefinitely, especially since neither of us was keen to open the door and face the menace that waited behind it. But just as we were considering leaving things as they were and calling in brighter and more experienced minds to deal with the crisis in the morning, we realised that at that very moment, the creature was in the cupboard amidst our clothes. And every moment that we delayed meant further contamination and possible damage to some of the essential items of our few earthly possessions! So we decided on a plan that, in retrospect, does not at all show our IQs up in good light, although at the time, it appeared both sensible as well as workable. It was a simple one - Amy would open the door and begin to pull out the clothes. I would stand by with a shoe and when the rat dared to show its dastardly face, I would smite it a blow that would send it into the blessed regions of Rattus futurity. Straighforward..... Or so we thought.....
Well, you can guess how it worked out. Amy, standing on tiptoe for some reason, gingerly opened the cupboard and then retired post-hast to the bed to witness further proceedings from an area of safety. Standing at the door with the shoe raised and peering into the cupboard, I did not realise for some time that my partner in crime had deserted me to my fate. When, however, I did realise it, I decided against continuing the assault without adequate back-up and closed the cupboard again (post-haste!) to joined my recalcitrant mate on the bed and remonstrate with her for her betrayal. After much discussion and further refinement of the plan, we decided to try again. This time, I positioned myself so as to block the path of her retreat to the bed. And then, we opened the door again.
There was no movement as we peered inside and so Amy began to empty the cupboard of the clothes, while I stood by with the shoe raised. And suddenly, all hell broke loose. Unfortunately, words take so much time to be written and read, when the events they describe all took place simultaneously and in a flash. First the rat (which we now saw was actually a mouse) made a flying leap from the middle shelf of the cupboard and landed right between the two of us. Before the rat had left the cupboard however, the air (that was already pregnant with tension), was pierced by a bloodcurdling scream that emanated from the deepest recesses of the lungs of my beloved mate. The suddenness of this event was so shocking that it was like time stood still for a moment. If it was possible, it even appeared that the rat was suspended in mid-air as the sound vibrated through every bone of its body.
With all that was happening, it would have been perfectly understandable if I had been unable to fulfil my end of the bargain. The bravest man in the world would have been forgiven for fainting in such circumstances. But fortunately, I am made of sterner stuff. I had retained possession of all my faculties in the midst of all this confusion and even before the rat (or rather, the mouse) had landed, I had calculated the precise point at which my shoe should strike his head. With lightening speed, I brought my shoe down and managed to get not one, but two solid blows in.
Alas, my split second calculation had failed to factor in the change in the velocity of the rat (or as I should now say, the mouse) due to the force applied by the shock waves emanating from Amy's scream. And so, though the two blows were solid ones that would have sent the thickest-skulled rodent into his heavenly abode, I did not succeed in this objective. All I managed to do was land two of the finest on Amy's toes, which somehow had positioned themselves exactly at the point the rat (which as I said, was actually a mouse) was supposed to land on. And while they did no damage to the rat (which as you now know, was really a mouse), the blows did succeed in turning off the scream before it did any material damage to the glassware in our room and to my eardrum. As for the rat (which I must remember to call a mouse), it happily escaped into the dark recesses under our bed which, being filled with boxes and suitcases that had nowhere else to go in our small room, provided enough and more place to hide. As for the two of us, well the less said about that, the better!
(To be continued when time and creative juices permit)