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!

Will the Mummies return?


My sister and her family visited us during the December holidays and needless to say we had a lot of fun.  Our schedule was jam packed with visits to all the touristy spots.  One of those was a visit to the local theme park.

The day passed in a whirl of stomach-roiling rides, long, patient waits in various queues and, ticks on a crumpled map.  The kids proved to be never-ending fountains of energy, and we tried to cope with their enthusiasm.  Finally, at around 6.30 p.m, we were done with everything on the now, tattered map.  The kids pronounced themselves satisfied, and it was time to head home.

The men and children drove away in the family car, while the two mummies, my sister and I, decided to cab it home.  Bad decision! The taxi stand was in the basement of the theme park. When we reached the stand, the queue had about 100 people at least, and showed no signs of reducing any time soon.

One of the ushers asked us to continue walking in the parking lot, and head towards a hotel that also had its taxi stand in the basement, from where chances of getting a cab were higher.  We thought this was a sensible thing to do, and started walking away from the crowd and into a labyrinth of cars – greens, reds, greys and blacks. Cars that watched us silently, as we plodded across the huge parking lot.  Our feet hurt, and it was suffocatingly warm. We walked on and on, and at every turn, the arrow showing directions, only pointed further ahead.

Many more silent cars watched our progress. As we walked on, we also decided to call for a cab, just to ensure that we would not have to stand in line at another taxi stand! Though the signal was weak, I received a text message, giving me the number of the taxi.

Heartened now, we fastened our pace.  The taxi driver called to ask where we were.  We told him that we were walking towards the hotel’s basement parking.  He told us he would wait there for us.

When we finally reached the place, there was nobody there, except a door that said staircase to hotel.  We were stumped – to go up or stay where we were.  Just then, the taxi driver called us again. Surprisingly, we heard his voice loudly, and then realized that he was walking towards us.  We waved in glee and he waved back.  We had met! Hurray!

But our joy was short lived.  He came to us and said, “I can’t find my taxi.”

“Whaaaat?”, we asked.

He told us that he had parked it in the allocated place and come to look for us, and now he was unable to find it.

Sigh!  The three of us plodded across the parking lot, looking for his taxi, up and down, left and right. Blue, grey, green, red and black spectators, silently laughing at us, as we searched on and on.

We decided to go up one level and check. It was only then that the taxi driver realized that on his quest to find us, he had actually walked one level below.

And there it was! The coolest taxi in the world.  The taxi that finally took the mummies home.