I had absolutely no idea what would happen to my tomcat every night as the clock struck 12, he would whimper and mewl and nothing I tried could quiet him down. Tonight was another such night. Gerry was still howling, his eyes shining like two little flash lights in the pitch-dark.
With a sigh, I got down off the bed and rubbed my palm on his head – running it up and down, gentle enough to compose him off, but he refused to acknowledge. His eyes fiercely glued to something in the distance that I was clueless about. I made an unsuccessful attempt to follow his unwavering gaze and figured he was intently gawking at something underneath the bed.
Reluctantly, I got on my feet and switched on the lights. The whole room came to life, but Gerry stayed rooted to his place. I went back and bent forward to follow his uninterrupted gaze, but found nothing.
Giving him a look, I carried Gerry to the bed.
“Mr. you better sleep now and let me sleep too.” I nagged while tucking him in the bed.
Time passed but Gerry’s unexplained whimpers didn’t stop. Every night he would repeat the drill and every night I would get shaken out of my sleep in the middle of the night. But that wasn’t the only whacky thing he had been doing. Gerry would now spend all day sitting by the leg of my bed. He would either stare at something or sleep through theday. After multiple failed attempts to move him from there, I resigned and placed his water and food bowls under my bed.
With things not getting any better, I was slowly growing anxious.
Gerry had always been playful. He wasn’t exactly an epitome of a tamed cat. He liked to keep leaping around, jumping on the couch, and playing with practically anything hanging within his reach, and that’s what I loved about him. But this wasn’t my usual cat and the realization had started to keep me on tenterhooks.
Fearing something might be wrong with him, I called Mr. Simpson, our vet, and set up an appointment for the succeeding week.
At the clinic, Mr. Simpson thoroughly checked Gerry and after a detailed diagnosis, declared that the cat was all fine. There were no signs of any illness. In fact, Gerry was at his best behavior in the doctor’s presence.
“He is healthy as a horse.” Overenthusiastic about the diagnosis, the doctor told me to stop worrying after all.
“There must be a rat in your house,” he said offering a possibility.
But I knew that wasn’t a possibility at all. I had been living in the apartment fortwo years, had there been a rat, I would have seen it. But then, you know how it gets when someone very casually drops a hint of doubt in your mind, and you just can’t shake it off somehow.
I hadn’t bought the idea of a rat in my apartment, but I didn’t know what else it could be. So, I ended up spending my weekend, frantically searching every nook of my house in the hope of finding a rodent, to solve the mystery that had gotten my cat lose his mind. But obviously I didn’t find anything. With zero rodent in sight, the question remained – What else could it be?
I decided I wasn’t going to sleep that night and that’s exactly what I did. Stretching my hand, I dragged my pillow and sheets onto the floor and lied down next to where Gerry lied flat on his back. He loomed unusually jaded tonight. I moved my fingers on his stomach, and gently ruffled his fur with my nails. He got up on his feet, walked to me, and lied down with his face on my arm. I gave a skim look at my phone – it was 11:00pm.
I didn’t realize when it happened – Gerry rose and leaped so fast, scratching my arm and throwing me out of the deep slumber I was in. He sat facing the bed, mewling with all his worth. I checked the time again – it was half past twelve. I crawled towards where he was sitting, looking straight ahead.
Slowly, his growls gave way to soft purrs as his body started to loosen up a little. He gently stretched himself on the rug, purring only at intervals now.
“Hello, anybody there?” I whispered, almost getting under the bed.
It was odd to call out to someone under your bed, at that unholy hour of the night, but guess I didn’t care anymore.
“You don’t need to be scared, I won’t harm you.” I said biting my tongue, finding my words rather ironical as I was the one terrified.
“Come one, you can talk to me.”
But there was no response. Whatever it was, it was definitely not under my bed, but in Gerry’s head.
“I might just have to take you to a better doctor,” I looked at Gerry in resignation.
I ran my eye over the length of the bed’s frame, one last time. There was nothing out there. What was I thinking!
Rolling my eyes, I picked up my pillow in one hand and gathered the sheets in the other, and got up – that’s when I heard it.
“ I am scared of light.” Wait a minute.
Was Gerry’s illness contagious, because I thought I heard a whisper?
I stayed glued to the ground for a moment, holding my phone with the flash light on, not able to move. And then I heard it again – “ I am scared of light!”
I don’t mind spending time with myself , but weekends during winters, can get a little gloomy sometimes. But not anymore.
I sit on my rug with a cozy comforter wrapped around my cold frame, next to my bed. The room is dimly lit. Holding a piping hot cup of coffee, with Gerry comfortably curled around my feet, we excitingly wait for another engaging Sat night with a friend – as soon as the clock strikes 12:00!