The house where we have been staying, is next to the banks of a tributary of Ganges. Trees grow on either banks with the ecosystem which something similar to the Sundarbans a bit further off. Pipal. Mango, banana trees guard our compound wall with their strong presence. Birds like the green headed barbet, tree pie, mynah, magpie and many others visit these trees. Bird watching from my kitchen window or the dining room is a favourite hobby for both me and the cat.
A gentle breeze blows at night through the lush greenery. Caramel, the cat, usually curls herself on the pillow and dozes off like the family.
A few day back, while the house was asleep, she sprang from the bed and scampered around the room in a mad haste.
A black and white furry creature, somewhat longer and bigger than her, with patches of black around the glowing eyes, was the object of her chase. The creature ran around the room in circles with its unusually long tail upright, and then proceeded to be chased out of the room and maybe out of the door and veranda of its entry. By now the lights were on and we were wondering where it was, what it was and where it had come from.
It had led some traces of an odd smell in some of the rooms. A quick google search introduced us to the “Civet”.
The Indian civet is a creature which looks somewhere between a mongoose and a cat. It may have been led indoors by the smell of food. Apparently Channel No 5 uses some civet essence in their fragrance mix as well.
That was hardly impressive.
To wake up at 2 am and see an unknown wild animal running around your bedroom is not the ideal memory for urban dwellers.
Two thoughts crossed my mind.
The first was that we talk so much about sustainability, but do we really know how to live with other animals? We fear them. We may even not know about some of them.
Second was a bit more on the abstract. The creature was a creature of the night. It had perhaps spotted our dwelling, just like we had been watching the birds. We were till this incident unaware of its existence. But was it unaware of us? Would it again attempt to enter?
We so often take what we see and experience everyday as the beautiful truth, while there maybe something or someone lurking somewhere that we know the existence not of.
Someone watching us. The same feeling you get of someone watching over your shoulder when you are doing something, no matter how mundane it is. The freedom of making your mistakes in private. The security of the predictable future. The security of sleeping comfortably in a room you can call your own without any intruder.
Actually, isn’t it a lot like the right to privacy?
(Cat did not sleep at night for the last few days. This encounter made her feel threatened of her space. She undertakes guard dog duties for the night, leaving the comfort of her pillow.)