Monsters that hiss


I am in a deep sleep; deep in dreamland, deep in nothingness, totally oblivious to the evening that has just passed or to the day that is about to break in a few hours. And in that transition period, when today has not yet passed the baton to tomorrow, I am suddenly being shaken awake.

Completely disoriented, I wish the person away, whoever it is. In a few minutes, my head clears a little, and I can hear panic in my daughter’s voice.

“Amma, Amma, wake up”, she says in a whisper that is also strangely shrill.

I groan in irritation. “What is it?” I ask, dragging the words from my sleepy brain.

She says with some urgency, “There is something in my room that is hissing.”

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I am jolted-awake now. Hi…ssss…ing? My brain, though, is slow to react. My daughter repeats it and insists that I come to inspect.

“I heard it twice”, she says. I get out of bed and tie my hair up into a tight little knot. This somehow gives me the energy and the strength to find the source of the hissing monster in our house.

On the way out of the bedroom, I turn back and see my husband, happily asleep. I tell my daughter that we will wake him up as well, one more member to the team.

Why should I be the one to hunt down hissing monsters late at night? I prod him awake. Nothing. I tell him about the hissing. He mumbles and says something incoherent, with his eyes partly open.

I prod him again. But he has already dropped off.

Well, I am irritated now. This irritation preps me to track down the source of the hissing. I march to my daughter’s room and carefully inspect her table and the areas near the window, from where she says she heard the hissing. Nothing, nothing at all.

And, just then, both of us hear a loud hiss from the table.

I burst out laughing. The hiss was from a brand-new automated air freshner that pumps out a fragrant spray at preset intervals.

My husband and I had set these air-fresheners up in all our bedrooms just that evening, and we had forgotten to inform our daughter.

“Amma, you know how scary that was?” She says laughing with relief, and also at the absurdity of this late night sojourn.

I turn off the freshener, and walk back to my room, still irritated that I was the one who had to go looking for hissing snakes at night.

The next morning, my daughter and I share details of our midnight adventure with my husband and son. My husband then says, “I told you last night that it was the air-freshener”.

Ahhh…that was the mumbling we heard. I roll my eyes.

Soon, my kids leave for school. My husband is about to leave. He goes to the bedroom to wear his tie. I follow him, and start making the bed.

His back is to the dressing table, and suddenly there is a hiss, and he jumps, startled.

That was air-freshener number two.

I laugh.

The look on my husband’s face – priceless!

The confession


Last month, we had to go to a friend’s home for a house warming party.  My son was going down to play with his friends and I told him that he had to be back by 6 pm, so that he would have enough time to wash-up and get ready!  Our conversation went something like this.

Son: So, where are we going?

Me: To Aunt L’s house.  She has moved to a new condo, so she has called us over for dinner.

Son: Oh! Aunt L?  Hmmm…(he seemed to be in deep thought).

Me: What?

Son: I have a confession to make.

Me: Sure, tell me. (….wondering what was coming)

Son: You know that there is a small hillock near Aunt L’s old house?  About four years ago, my friends and I walked up that hillock.

(My friend (the said Aunt L) had already told me that these kids had been going up and down the hillock and had asked them to be careful, as they could get hurt).

Me: Yes, I know. Aunt L has told me.

Son:  But that’s not it. Once, when Aunt L was not there (she is usually watching us), the five of us went up the hillock, and went through a small gap in the fence.  We found ourselves outside the condo.  There was a grassy slope, some trees, and at a distance was the next building.  We high-fived and came back into our condo through the fence.  Are you mad at me?

Me: I am not mad, but it could have been dangerous to go out like you did. You could have got hurt.

Son: Mom, it was a long time ago.  I wouldn’t do that now. OK, bye!

I smiled and imagined the scene. Five little imps, up for an adventure to conquer the hillock, and see the world outside.  I can imagine those giggles, the shared camaraderie, and the imagined ‘big’ conspiracy.  I wonder how much they had planned, and who amongst them took the call to get them all enthused and going.

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Picture courtesy – Can Stock Photo

Five children, 7 to 8 year-olds, best friends,  in their shorts and t-shirts, scrambling up the hillock, quickly sneaking out through the fence, their hearts thudding in excitement at this sudden adventure, reaching the other side, looking at each other, and sharing looks of glee and sudden giggles, and then their thudding hearts reminding them of home, parents and fear, and the scramble back to the other side of the fence, back to safety, to the known and to the comfort of home.

And this is how it will be for our children.  As parents, we will never know some of the adventures that the children will embark on in their future.  They will try to conquer their fears by trying new things, sometimes they will do something because it is cool, sometimes they will do things that will help them reach their highest potential.