A large part of my life has been controlled by the strict discipline of bells, both as a student and as a teacher. However, bells play an important role in human lives and have undergone many metamorphoses. The musical ring tone of the mobile phone today was a clear ringing bell of the immobile phone of yesterday which was shared by the entire family.
A temple or a church cannot be imagined without a bell. It helps to inform God that we have arrived at the doorstep and thus to please lend a listening ear. Once metallurgy was invented, the bell was born. Since then, it is used in happiness and sorrow, to summon and to dismiss.
At Selim Hill, the first time I came across the ringing sound was when the cicadas sang beautifully like multiple bells welcoming us to Second Chance House. The second time was a more bizarre experience.
That evening, as gold subdued itself to silver, through the mist, (maybe) I heard some anklets on the verandah of Second Chance House. During the day, I am not scared of ghosts, but at night I become quite skittish and my bravado becomes a shadow of its daylight self. On hearing the tinkling bells, I was reminded of every Hindi movie in which the ghost wears anklets and laughs enticingly. Moreover, the bells were moving just as a ghost does, going through walls and floating around.
If there is something that scares me more than the Principal of a school, it is a CAT. To add to my misery, I spotted a cat. It was black as the starless sky that night. Wearing white socks, it was handsome as the devil itself. I am sure you already know that cats often accompany witches and ghosts. This cat was on the prowl to hunt rats and mice which were currently abundant in our house, it ignored me and went about its nightly duties.
As Apsara came in with my cup of Dorje Chamomile Tea, I sheepishly asked her if she could hear or see anything. It is not ideal to let people know that one is hallucinating! She could not hear anything; however, she also noticed the ebony cat with ivory socks. When I mentioned that it would be nice to see some mice reduced from the house, she laughed at me and urged me to look at the cat carefully.
Although the hair at the nape of my neck stood up dangerously, I glanced surreptitiously at the cat.
IT HAD A BELL AROUND ITS NECK!
I am primarily a bird lover. I love them because they are self-dependent and I can enjoy them from far. I love their flights of fancy. Dogs are adorable but I don’t think I am capable of caring for them. Cats, I feel, are another ball game altogether. Even as pets, they are always semi-wild.
It was alarming and disconcerting to see that a proud hunter had been reduced to a joke because someone had belled the cat.
As I drank my cup of Dorje Chamomile Tea, I pondered over the foolishness of humankind, we seem to be experts at cutting the branch that we are sitting on.
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