It is 5:30 AM. Anu Boo — for the uninitiated, she is my best friend who walks on four legs — prances around the bedroom. She is a heavy slumberer. If she is walking across the room anxiously, then something must be wrong. The pitter-patter of her toes grows louder. I have to switch on the light, spot what’s bothering her, and give her a respite.
My night was terrible. When I slipped into the transient darkness, my chest was heavy with regrets, my eyes were dry after shedding tears, my mind was exhausted. I had been hearing my own voices in my head again: You are not enough. You are a failure. You are pushing all your people away. You are going to rot in isolation. You don’t learn. The words assumed the form of cymbals; they crashed and crashed and crashed.
Anu Boo now pushes her wet nose against mine. The final call. I turn the lights on.
There is a cockroach in the room. It’s cat-walking from one end to the other.
Here is a lesson: Not all dogs are mindlessly brave. They take calculated risks. A lesson that I must learn. Ahem. Ahem.
The cockroach is oblivious to our presence. It is ambling around the room like it’s enjoying its morning walk on a promenade.
Anu Boo looks at the cockroach and then turns toward me. A question. “What are you going to do about this thing, Deepika?”
I ask her to stay. I am sure Anu Boo would have thought that I am a nincompoop. She wants me to eliminate the cockroach, but I ask her to stay. She is visibly miffed. I stand in front of the cockroach, which is now dodging my feet and continuing its brisk morning walk. I recognise the need to phone The Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh to seek some counsel on how to remove a cockroach from my room without hurting it. It’s too early to ring the gentlemen anyway.
So, I am left with the daunting task of requesting the cockroach to leave our room, so Anu Boo can rest for a while. Because her morning duties have to be begun in a short while. Like barking at the milkman, the newspaper boy… Some folks enjoy their routine okay?
I shuffle my feet, perform a pirouette in front of the cockroach. Some dance in the morning! The tiny thing has chosen to ignore my performance. I dance again to block its movement. It keeps marching. Anu Boo shoots an accusatory glance at me. “Woman! Like really! You are dancing with a cockroach at 5:30 AM, when you really know that I am sleep-deprived?”
All right! I can’t allow the insect too to question my worth. I will have to win my dog’s trust again. I pull up my pajama a wee bit and kick the cockroach. Just a gentle kick. Like turning a ship’s sail. To my surprise, the cockroach slides toward the door. “See, Anu! This is working.” She is in the living room. I do not know when she walked out on me. Her countenance is morose as though a smile will not be offered until I complete the task. Okay. Challenge accepted.
I do a little gig again, sway my hips, move my feet this way and that way, and steer the cockroach toward the bathroom. The single-minded cockroach resists. Its unwavering determination melts my heart. Hey! But I have to please my dog. I am sorry, Cockroach! Although I am in awe of your audacity and hope, I have work to do.
My impromptu dance goes on and the cockroach enters the bathroom. I shut the door. I can feel my canine friend’s judgmental eyes tracing my movements. As I walk toward her, I tell her, “It’s all clear now. Go back to bed. You can trust me okay?” She cocks her head, weighing the truth in my words. I genuflect. Now my face is against hers. “At least you please? Trust me. Go.” She reluctantly goes back to our bedroom. I think I won.
What did I tell you about feeling shitty about myself last night? Now I don’t have the time to ruminate on that subject, because there are more critical, immediate things to do. Like saving my irascible dog from a pliant cockroach.