I was six years old, rushing back home for lunch. I’d been playing at a friend’s place and had to cross a small playground to reach back home. Running at full speed, I suddenly doubled over as a black snake appeared right before me. I ran back to my friend’s place and howled and howled! My mother had to come and fetch me from the friend’s house. She couldn’t convince me to eat a single morsel of food that entire day. All I could see that day was the snake’s forked tongue darting in and out of his mouth. Ever since that day, I have detested the species vehemently.
A week back, this monster that you see in the attached picture was hanging on a potted plant in our front verandah, right next to the main door. Mind you, I am not the one who took the picture!
Felt like sharing a chapter from my book #atrunkfullofsunshine It is about another friend of this monster.
LOOK, YOU HAVE A GUEST HIDING UNDER YOUR BED
Every night before I sleep, I get down on all fours on the floor and look under the bed. I crane my neck to check under all the curves and grooves of the beds. This is a practice that I have been following for the past ten years. I can cross my heart and proudly say that in these past ten years, there hasn’t been a single day, when I didn’t do the “BED CHECK” routine. Even when I was fresh in the throes of the adventure called “Slip disc”, I did it, with my neck brace, creaking bones and all. I would wait for the husband to go out of the room for some errand, quickly do the “bed check” and climb back on the bed again before he could come back. This, when I was on COMPLETE bed rest for one month, and my husband had specially come down on leave to take care of me and the kids. Hey, do I see some of you shaking your heads and feeling sorry for my “condition”? Wait, don’t come out with the diagnosis yet. There is more to come. I check under the beds in the guest rooms and the hotel rooms too, when we go for holidays. In short, no bed worth it’s underbelly has remained unscrutinised by me for ten years now. If the kids, their Dad or I must sleep on it, well, the bed has to undergo thorough examination.
So, I bet by now some of you have already passed the verdict. “She needs help”, “She has O.C.D.”, “How does she deal with it?” “The poor woman! May God bless her!” Well, I assure you that I am not a patient of the above-mentioned condition. Most people find me as easy going as they make them. “Why then?” you might ask. My answer is “it’s all because of the fauji houses”. The army accommodations that I have been living in, are the real culprits here. Let me enlighten you with the whole sordid story.
Cantonments are known for being lush green areas, full of trees and shrubs of all kinds. To preserve the cover of greenery, the houses are planned in such a way that the land behind every house has thick plantation which soon becomes home to many birds, insects and animals. Hence, every cantonment has creatures like monkeys, snakes, mongooses, giant lizards etc living in its premises. Every single person who has ever lived inside a cantonment will have a few “animal” stories to share. After a while, we all get used to the presence of the creepy crawlies and four legged creatures co-existing with us. Our nonchalant attitude towards these creatures, surprises many. My maids, for example, think that I am made of some superior quality stuff because nothing fazes me. They shriek in horror while I casually manoeuvre lizards, frogs, cockroaches, mice etc out of the door; wielding various weapons, from brooms, to bathroom wipers, to badminton rackets and more, with elan. They look at me in admiration when I am engrossed in such acts of bravery. For me, it’s just a normal day, with normal happenings. Ahem!
We were living in the Dehradun cantonment nine years back. My elder daughter was ten months old and was a very active infant. She would roll over the whole bed and managed to fall twice. Alarmed, we decided to change the sleeping arrangement. The beds were removed from the room and the mattresses were arranged on the floor. We started sleeping on the floor to keep our child safe from injury. This arrangement continued for a couple of months and then one fine day, a bombshell was dropped on me. My husband’s sahayak informed me that he had seen a black cobra sitting on the sofa in our living room the previous evening. Before it could be caught, it slithered away beneath the tall glass doors of our living room. Needless to say, the sleeping arrangement got back to how it was earlier, on the beds. We insulated the lower parts of all the doors leading outside the house, with rubber sheets, thus sealing the gaps. Insecticides were sprayed outside as well as inside the house to keep all the creepies and crawlies away. I was mortified that we had been sleeping on the floor all this while, when there was this fearsome snake living around us. I started checking under the bed each night before we went to bed and the habit has stuck with me after all these years.
And so, every night I do the “Bed check” and only then switch the lights off. It’s a daily scene in our home. I get down on all fours on the floor and my husband tells the kids loudly, “Look, Mamma is searching for pythons.” I glare at him or even smirk, depending on my mood and continue with my inspection. As for the admiring maids, well, I will ask you to not spill the beans on me. I kind of like the adulation. I mean, who doesn’t want to be thought of as a super woman? One fine day, I’ll get a cape custom-made for myself and give them a divine discourse on being brave. Ssshhh, let’s just keep it that way, shall we? They don’t know about the snake incident and my reaction to it. They haven’t seen me do the “Bed check”!
© Aug 2018 Sapna Dhyani