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It is a big house, with three floors, and although we have a telephone system connecting all the rooms, as well as an extension to the servants’ quarters, yet a few years ago, because my Mom’s memory was failing, I brought her a battery generated bell for her to ring when she needs to call her nurse.
This bell is very loud indeed so that wherever the nurse is in the house, she is able to hear it. We keep the unit that rings on the stairs, so it is central within the house and can be heard anywhere in the house, and even sometimes in the garden or at the front gate. The chime of that bell is reminiscent of the ding dong heard in airports before any announcement. At first it was a joke that every time my Mom rang the bell we used to say that she will be announcing takeoff to some destination or other.
Then we got used to the chimes of the bell, and more and more it came to mean that she needed something, and still on, that she needed help. So the ringing of that bell, day or night, triggered in me an immediate response of surging forward and heading towards her room.
For the past couple of years the country, because of the upheaval it has been going through, has been going through a very difficult economic situation which manifested itself in our everyday life by power cuts. The jokes generated by this one phenomenon during Morsi’s rule were legion. Even to these days whenever the power goes off, the facetious reaction is : Damn you Morsi! The point I am trying to make is that power cuts have become now a part of our lives, and when a few days pass without our usual scheduled power cut, we feel that something is missing. It seems that these cuts are very deliberate, and are done as per a schedule that very few people know about, and that usually last from 45 minutes to an hour at a stretch.
Where I live our usual power failure is mainly scheduled for one hour in the evening. For a few weeks it was from 7 to 8 in the evening, so we sort of worked around this hour. But lately this schedule has been very erratic. Last week it was from 9 to 10 pm, then a couple of times from 4 to 5 pm. Today we had a double feature. There was a power cut when I came back home at around 6 pm, but this lasted only thirty minutes and I thought that would be that for today. But lo and behold, at 8.30 off it went again. So I got up and turned on the battery generated lamps that I have placed strategically on the second floor so that I can see my way around the hall and the living room. I then settled down to browsing Facebook till the power comes back on. When there is a power failure the quiet is very noticeable, no whirring motors of any kind, no TV or radio, no sprinklers going off, just nothing. Maybe just the faint croaking of the frogs through the closed windows.
So there I was sitting in the mainly dark house, with some splashes of faint light around the living room and nearly total quiet ranging over the whole compound. Then suddenly Mom’s bell goes off very loudly. I froze. I felt my heart jump in my mouth and the breath was knocked out of me. Then it went off again .. And again .. And again. After maybe five seconds of sheer paralysis I thought: the cats! I then jumped up, grabbed one of the lamps, and headed for my Mom’s room. And surely enough, there was Pixie, looking the model of innocence, standing on the bell. Pixie is stone deaf! I gently moved him off, took the bell and placed it inside the drawer of the bedside table, and shut the drawer. Then started to breath again.
Walking back to the living room I could imagine my Mom laughing her head off at the fright I had, she would have loved to have scared me like that. And for all I know she might have whispered in Pixie’s ear, or even nudged him on to the bell.
Coming back to the living room, the first thing I did was call my friend to tell her what happened. We laughed about it and she said that my consolation is that I should be now sure that my heart is in perfect condition, if I did not succumb to a heart attack after such a fright! She makes good sense. After hanging up I took my trusted lamp, headed for the fridge, brought out the wine, this time a Merlot, and had me a tall glass of red wine. I first toasted the spirit of my Mom for playing games with me even now. She had, after all, told me that she would come back and haunt me after she was gone. It is just that I never expected her to use the cats in this underhanded way! But now that I know what’s going on, let the games begin.
A fertile imagination can be the bane of ones existence or it’s saving grace. In this particular instance I find it a blessing, for through it I can still have fun with my Mom even now.
30 March 2014