The universe is conspiring to give me chronic insomnia. Sleep is toxic; it wastes precious, productive hours that people can spend engaged otherwise. For much of this year, my baby boy decided it would be fun to party at 3 a.m. Now, after he has moved his partying to more respectable hours, someone else decided it would be incredibly fun to keep me up. The hyperactive stray dogs in my locality.
Now, before doggie lovers pounce at me in protest, let me make this clear: I love dogs. I have always wanted to keep one at home but have been obstructed by various reasons. When I meet a happy, eager-to-please stray, I offer biscuits and pats, sometimes to R’s disapproval. Never have I been cruel to one of these canines.
Why then are they so cruel to me?
Every night at 3 a.m., after I have put the baby back to sleep, their canine orchestra begins. One of the dogs starts it off; I presume he fancies himself musical. In a matter of seconds, he is joined by his friends, rivals and foes. They howl, pretending to be werewolves and creatures of greater importance. They sing and dance and make merry, oblivious to how nights were designed for rest and sleep. Between my baby’s sleepy noises (who was the idiot who coined the phrase ‘sleep like a baby’?) and the singing/wailing dogs, I CANNOT get back to sleep.
‘How do these strays get inside the society gate? Are they your pets?’ I asked one of the security guys.
‘No madam, but we are not allowed to drive them out.’
‘They are homeless, after all,’ added a neighbor who had been listening to the conversation. ‘We should show some solidarity.’
Last I checked, the neighbor had shifted to an apartment several blocks away, reserving this one for “investment purposes”. I glared at her meaningfully. ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ she enquired.
The security guard of the adjacent wing tapped me on the shoulder. ‘Madam, I know the source of the problem. It happens in the dark of the night.’
Why, the mystery was deepening! Did the doggies assume particularly musical tendencies in the dark of the night? Were they researching this at the science institutes?
‘What is the source of the problem?’ I enunciated.
‘There is this madam who comes down every morning at 3 a.m. She offers food to the dogs. They get excited and start shouting.’
‘3 a.m. is not morning!’ I exclaimed in disbelief. Who was this kind soul who believed it was wise to feed dogs at that unearthly hour? Whatever happened to the civic sense you were supposed to possess when living in a residential society? Could she not adjust her feeding time or entrust someone else with the noble deed?
‘What a kind lady!’ declared the overbearing neighbor, once again listening to my hush-hush conversation. I grasped my wallet tighter, afraid that my right hand might involuntarily thrash her.
I live in too-kind a place, where generosity toward stray animals is admired, but no one thinks twice about listening to loud music at midnight, letting their pets poop near parked vehicles, and allowing kids to scream until their voices go hoarse. I am sure that part of the wuffing my doggie friends treat me to is mere frustration at this irony. They are letting off steam. Perhaps, the next night, I will join them. I will be the kind lady who boosts the morale of the horribly off-key dogs.