Ever so often, we’d glare at the papers and then turn away. Their look had become so bleak that we no longer had the appetite to chew them and scatter them to test human cleaning abilities(House Game .) Besides, whom were we going to test anyway – Mom? She was once again all in all Head of the Department of Household Tasks. It would be a pretty boring loop to test the same old person on days that were the same from one to the other. This time the stuck-at-home-routine was heavier, duller, greyer. Our Folks were getting to hear too much bad news; they were getting to see – and we over their shoulders – too much despair in the black box that talks (screams, more like it) and these newspapers. Human Vanity! You all actually thought you had beaten the little virus. It got you scurrying for cover again.
We thought about getting down to cleaning up things ourselves rather than merely supervising. Since it was about spring time, it would be our spring cleaning. And since the world was functioning online, it would be our online spring cleaning. We got down to sprucing up the other half of our online lives – https://www.instagram.com/poochpickles/ . And we did an excellent job of it. Time consuming but excellent. We cleaned up so well that the page was sparkling clean. Not a single item of clutter. Not a single image. We were so efficient that even we don’t know where everything has vanished to. But the space was clean. Big Sis had to Step In and Take Over. Let’s talk of other things.
With one task Successfully Completed under our belt, we nosed around for things to break the monotony of one day like the other. Thus it was that one day we leapt onto Mom’s tummy out of sheer boredom and when she jumped up with a squeal, dropping the book in her hand, we found ourselves squinting at, trying to make sense of, the words ‘antediluvian saurian’. We could barely contain our excitement at what we saw on the open page
We knew what it was! We are intelligent beings and at once recognised what an antediluvian saurian refers to. A tongue twisting term fit for the creepy crawly wriggly thingy that emerges at this time of the year. What was in Mom’s book looked a little different to what we have seen so far (Pooch cartographers) – we have not yet been introduced to one that lives in the water and suns on the shore. But we have discovered that the creature you call a lizard comes in different sizes and looks, from tiny to huge, from light to dark, from immobile to a flash, and the book one probably is one type of this difference. Mom is the Designated Creepy Crawly Wriggly Thingy Chaser. Dad and Big Sis cannot stand being in the room with one of them on the walls, and Big Bro is not here most of the time these creatures show themselves. We knew that Mom was reading up to arm herself for the coming season of performing her Designated Duty. It all made sense.
We are Mom’s foot soldiers. So every chase is a medley of tap tapping of whatever implement Mom has in her hand (she won’t kill, merely tap the creature out the door or an open window), shouted instructions from the safety of a distant door from the other Folks, and barks, snarls, yaps. Mom’s Designated Duty is now a dance of sorts with a pair of legs winding around two sets of four paws with miraculously no falls. It is a dance to higher decibels, enough to wake the dead but not get the ante-whathaveyou saurian to move, or at least move in the right direction.
When Mom is not there to do the honours or too lazy to be perturbed by a living creature stuck on a wall or the ceiling of a room, we take over. The nose quivers, the shackles rise, the graceful body becomes stiff, and we take off to reach the spot closest to the creature stuck on the wall or the ceiling. Sometimes that spot may demand treading on Folks’ tummies, arms, legs, faces, or rearing up with our sweet behinds on their cheeks and noses, but it’s all in the line of duty. Occasionally, Mom turns sly and turns a blind eye to what is above her, hoping that no one else will notice and make her get up. But that cannot be, for we are always there to alert and alarm, dashing Mom’s sly hopes of oblivion to pieces and starting the medley and dance of decibel levels yet again.
It’s a task that requires patience, rock-solid patience. For the creepy crawly wriggly thingy can remain still for absolute ages. It is a battle of wills that no human can win, or even endure. Unceasing positioning just below the thingy, at a particular angle, staring without flinching for hours, frozen as immobile as the stuck saurian itself, ignoring calls for food and water. A game of who blinks first. One of two things can happen: either the wriggly will scamper away with us in hot pursuit at ground level or it will splat to the ground. If it splats to the ground, there is a demand for lightning fast movement, which we have still to perfect. Actually, it is not our fault. We would probably catch the creature once it splats to our level were it not for the shrieks and restraints of our Folks, in this case Mom included.
Once, just once, we managed to thwack a tiny creature with our paws and attempt to pick it up with our jaws. There was no one there to witness our moment of triumph. Except Mom, and she doesn’t count because she went absolutely hysterical; in fact, the crack on the wall there is evidence of her screech. In all her years of performing her duty of the chase, she has never ventured close enough to the creatures to breathe in the same air, always using a long-handled object. But that day, she dumped these finicky airs, dove for our mouths and knocked away our near prey with her bare hands. We have never before and never since witnessed the twirls and whirls with that intricate footwork that she performed that day. We have never before and never since heard the soprano we did that day. We have never before and never since seen the feverish reading and inquiries about possible poisons and toxins that we sat through that day. Things settled down finally. The only sign of our first and so far only victory of speed was the little tail that lay there till it was swept away the next morning.
After this near successful encounter, not an evening passes that we do not stiffen as we pass the same stretch of wall and roof. And then one day, there it was. Another shape on the top. Way above our reach but a blob there nonetheless. It was only after some minutes of panting and whining that we heard a crow of laughter. Mom again! This time there was no screech and twirl. This time it was helpless laughter as Mom asked us why we had spent the last few minutes of our lives whining at a splatch of pigeon excreta on the shade.
Well, we do get ahead of ourselves at times. But such mistaken identities will not distract us from our mission of sighting and hunting out ante-whateveritmaybe saurian. In fact, we have been through a fair range of them, indoors and outdoors, and are more than ever ready to take on those that live in the water and sun on the shore. Perhaps one day, there will be bigger wrigglies splatting off the wall and a bigger tail to sweep away from our corner of triumph.