The clock struck 2 AM. A blanket of oppressive silence was spread throughout the house, punctuated only by the intermittent snores of my dad, my granddad, and my uncle.
I lay there in silence, wondering and pondering over why my sleep took so long to come. Maybe it was stuck in traffic. Or maybe the noise had scared it away. In any case, I knew it wouldn’t come very soon.
It was the start of winter, and being in Mumbai, the cold was as alien to me as aliens are.
I slipped out of my room on the second floor of my bungalow, silently, making as much noise as the ants that crept up those walls. My destination was the terrace, and I stood outside the thick wooden paneled door to the terrace with a pillow, terribly nervous and excited at the adventure that I thought I was going on. I wasn’t allowed nightly jaunts anywhere, and being awake at 2 in the night was considered a grave sin punishable by… I gave up such depressing thoughts of punishment and crept on forward to look for the key to the giant Godrej lock that kept the terrace out of bounds. Luckily enough, I found it hanging on a nail on the terrace door. What luck!
It was only when I began to unlock it, that I realized the futility of the effort. The noise that the damn slide bolt made was enough to raise an army of dead. I cursed myself and my silly ideas and slid out the last part of the bolt quickly. Somehow, nobody woke up.The stentorious snores still carried on with all might and power.
Now, my house being as old and creaky as it was, creeping up the stairs to the terrace again made me jumpy at every step. I had no idea when I used these very stairs during the day that they made so much noise. I finally made it up there. It was only now that I realized that I had bought no beddings or bed sheets. Drat!
I decided to spend a few hours here in the company of the stars and return to the relative comfort of my room. I lay down with my pillow looking up at the dark blue sky.
It was a full moon that smiled back at me, chiding me for being so naughty…I looked around. Not so many stars. Hmm, why? I finally came to the conclusion that most of the stars were either shy or had called in sick because of all the polluted air.
A somewhat cool breeze was blowing in an easterly direction, and I slowly felt the calm of the night descend upon me like a comforting blanket. I had to make sure that I wouldn’t slip off to sleep and cause a heart attack below in the morning. I looked around the terrace. Everything looked so different in the night, the tiles on the terrace sparkled differently in the moonlight, the iron bars reflected it in strange ghostly ways with shadows playing across the floor in amusement.
I suddenly became aware of someone watching me with great interest. It was my cat, and she was regarding me in an imperious manner. She looked at me with disgust, how could I slip off like a night burglar in the middle of the night in her territory? That was her job!
She suddenly jumped down from her perch on the railing and giving me one final disapproving look, stalked off to the stairs, presumably to complain to my parents about my adventuring.
I on the other hand, took umbrage to this, and decided to stick around a bit more, just to spite her. Who was she to boss over me? I regret it to this day, and it has only taught me one thing, never disagree with the fact that pet cats rule over their owners and it is never the other way around.
Within five minutes, my dialogues with the moon and the stars were interrupted by the arrival of my entire family with expressions ranging from anger to amusement.
The cat, on its own initiative had woken up my mother who, like all mothers are, looked around for me to put the blame on. Not finding me, she came to the conclusion that I had finally come true on my promise to either run away, or spend a night on the terrace. They decided to follow the latter option first. I was lucky that there were no hockey sticks, or other assault weapons.
My adventure at an end, I was subjected to a barrage of choice abuse and lectures in the middle of the night. I have never ever tried such adventures since. I didn’t even speak to the cat for the next few days.
The cat, on the other hand, had taken up this golden opportunity to drink up all the milk that was kept in the kitchen….