‘Ebony and Ivory’

We are sisters. We hate each other.

We don’t know what makes us sisters. We are chalk and cheese, apples and oranges.

We are Ebony and Ivory

If you ring the doorbell and a fur ball leaps at the door and then at you, you know you’ve got the one who believes in being demonstrative. Even if you are not someone we know very well, there is something to be said for darting out, sniffing your feet, almost rolling down the building staircase and dancing tippy toes so that the Folks cannot welcome you or ask you your business, but are a mess of arms and legs – and in the case of aging parents creaking backs and bones – trying to gather this one of us.

If you ring the doorbell, hear a staccato burst of yaps and witness an aborted attempt to sniff your feet before a turn around and a glimpse of a swaying behind, you know you’ve got the one who wants to be demonstrative but can’t be bothered. Besides, the Other One grabs all the attention and there’s no dignity in playing second fiddle.

The sound of the bell or anything suspicious spurs a take off. One of us will charge for the sound or anything suspicious – up to a point. Then pause, look back and proceed only if Mom or somebody is close enough for this one of us to play lion, otherwise turn back or stand still and bark. The Other of us will charge without a thought in the concerned direction, totally energico, enough to put a galloping steed to shame, and after reaching the point of said sound jam the brakes to look around if Mom or somebody has caught up. It’s like if there is a chasm, this Other of us will first leap and then look.

And then there is the reason behind our names. One of us is beloved of all and does not enjoy the lap of any one. Does not enjoy the lap at all. Just a slight contact with some distant part of the Folks’ body that cannot reach out to frequently cuddle. The Other of us is true to her name and enjoys the lap and the cuddle. That is except when the beloved of all goes green with the attention going in the other direction and squirms her way close enough and the one enjoying the lap and the cuddle gets disturbed. Once disturbed, the bratty one hitherto enjoying the lap turns up her nose and jumps off, usually to retire sulking under the bed. The beloved of all sprawls all over, on her back, limbs stretched to ensure a 20 square km radius into which the Sulking One cannot attempt re-entry. All is at peace, only punctuated by an occasional grave emanation from under the bed by way of a sigh or a bark.

If you want to see a lady, watch one of us chew at meal times. So slowly, elegantly, like a true lady. The Other of us gobbles, finishing in half the time and then eyeing the other bowl. It’s only after the meal is over that you puzzle over how one that chews so daintily can make such a mess of unwanted vegetables around the bowl and how the gobbling Other can be neat and lick the last bean off the side of the bowl. Then there is the commanding, short, “I will be obeyed – and right now” forte bark if Mom gets too busy and there is an urgent need to be let out or it is past regular bedtime. There is also the repeated, whining, “Mommie, Mommie, look at me – I need attention” legato bark to initiate a conversation, or be let in or onto the bed, especially if there is the afore-mentioned 20 square km radius in operation.

When the wriggly creature that crawls along the wall (Pooch cartographers) emerges, one of us freezes, stares stonily, willing it to fall. So does the Other of us. One shriek from Mom has both of us scampering to her, noses alert. One of us does not start a meal till the other has reached her bowl (subsequent coveting of the other bowl is permitted.) So does the Other of us. One of us hops on to the vet’s table if the other is being examined to keep an eye on what he is up to with the other. So does the Other of us. One of us gets perturbed if the other gets into trouble with Mom. So does the Other of us.

So you see, we just can’t understand how we can be sisters. We hate each other.

We are Ebony and Ivory

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