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.
The look on my husband’s face – priceless!