We were out looking for treasure. That was after we saved the world from a speeding meteor. But before we took our super-hero capes to the local tailor to mend the rent that appeared while we were saving the world. We can’t remember at which point we were judging the online cooking contest. Now that we have a break from our social and global obligations, we are back. Lucky you!
Every word is a lie (except the bit about us back and you lucky.) To tell the truth, we were busy with more important things. Busy teaching Mom and Big Sis How To Run The House. You know we are experts – have been for a while now (House Game) If you don’t know why our expert services were required for our ‘help’-less Mom and Big Sis, it is about time you crawl out from under whichever rock you have been under all this while and take stock of the upheaval a tiny microbe has caused in the world around you.
There are literally thousands of little things to take care of. So, one has to be organised. For that you got to know the lay of the land. The first thing we therefore did was chart out the straights and crookeds of The House That We Had To Run. We have the paths to traverse and directions pat so that the day proceeds smoothly.
First, take a right turn out of the room after tumbling out of bed and another right for the 20m dash up and down the passage holding leashes in our mouths for Mom to grab, buckle and take us for our walk. Somewhere in the middle of what is called a ‘lockdown’, this became redundant. For Mom, paranoid that we might catch a human infection, stopped taking us down. One fine morning, we ran around for positively hours before we realised Mom was standing at the terrace door, tapping her foot. Tails and leashes a mess between our legs, we trooped out. But we are nothing if not intelligent and once the cloud in our brain cleared, we reworked the route: take a left after tumbling out of bed, then a detour under the bed to fish the ball out which invariably, every night, is pushed under the bed for reasons best known to us, another left, and zip out, ensuring – every morning – at the door that you make Mom stub her toe on the door channel as you trip her. Then it is a straight back and forth dash and squabbling for the ball that Mom hurls. Morning exercise and grooming done, head back and then right, straight to the kitchen door for breakfast.
Second, stand at a 45 degree angle from the kitchen door at the stove and move diagonally across the area between stove and sink. Wait for the two trips across the area from stove to fridge and butt your snout into the cool cool fridge while Mom fishes out stuff for use. Sadly, Mom takes everything out in bulk so the fridge is not opened frequently enough. So, you pad fourteen steps towards the 90 degree angle between stove counter and chopping board counter and wedge yourself between so that Mom stumbles over you or stands astride. Even this gets boring, and once you have heaved yourself on two hind paws to inspect the counter at the time Mom washes and places the chicken for your lunch in the pan for boiling, you really have nothing to do. So you retrace the steps and take a right from the door to Big Sis’ room and leap a clear 40 degree arc to her bed, preferably the crook of her knees to snuggle there.
The part where you really need to know the lay of the land comes after Mom is done in the kitchen. It is when she cleans the house. It is imperative that you measure your steps to stay exactly two steps away so that you can sniff to inspect the dirt pile or step on it to test its volume. You have to lead the way, for instance to the niche to the left of the passage, to point out dust traps. The swirling wet thingy they call a mop follows the path you take. If it gets too close to the paws, turn back to grab its threads but keenly check how clean it is leaving the floor. So mopping means retracing about five steps in sometimes the easterly direction, at other times the northerly direction (an unrehearsed sample check works best) to inspect. If the floor in the said direction has imprints of paws, it means the wet mop had earlier reached that part. We had just worked out a system for the broom when Mom and Big Sis got this noisy thing. It roars when you switch it on and moves quickly over the area, caring not a whit for our charted course. But we are working on it and shall soon have the route in place – once One of Us emerges from under the chair she rushes to the moment it is switched on. And the Other of Us gets free from making cow eyes at it and snapping at whoever tries to touch it.
The day carries on according to our map, painstakingly pawed and nosed into place. The crowning glory is the good night grid. If you are super-sentient beings like us, you know, just know, when the post-dinner washing up is done. You lope across the dining room towards the kitchen, waiting at the door for the clink of the empty milk bottle, the signal to lead the way. You then take a right, patter to the main door, wait for the bottle to be placed outside, turn back and right to the living room balcony door, ensuring it is locked, turn 180 degrees towards the other balcony door, ensuring that too is locked, and patter back to take a left to the bedroom. On the way, if you sniff the box room door is slightly ajar, you give a meaningful look to Mom and take her there to shut it because that is from where those wriggly creatures that crawl along the wall emerge to irritate you.
Then there are those in-between courses. One example: when Mom emerges from the study at a certain time of the day, you know you have to scamper to the right down the passage to the balcony door and out where she is going to water the plants; you have to know which tile on the floor to skid over to get there before she squeezes out, locking you in because you just love getting all messy with the hose pipe. Another is the centre, no matter from which direction you come. It is the spot grub is served, and is marked with an ‘X’.
One more lie. Actually, it is marked with checks but we’ve been dying to use the ‘marked with an X’ line. No cartographer is worth her bone if she does not mark something with an X.