- Description of the incident.
Life is full of strange happenings. They seem very often to arise from very trifling causes. But so long as we do not know the causes, they seem to be most exceptional. They become very exciting. Life becomes interesting because of such things. They are very welcome because they break the boredom of life. Holidays, for example, are welcome changes in our routine of daily life. The arrival of relatives is also very exciting, specially when they come unexpectedly. A thunderstorm during summer can also very exciting. Quarrels of our neighbours give us some thrill, and when they make up their differences and become friends, they give us delight, Sudden fires are also very exciting though, of course, they are not at all welcome. The visit of great men to our town or school is a red-letter day in our life. Such incidents are happening very often and they give us variety of experience. They sweeten life and add to our experience.
A very interesting thing happened to me when I was a small lad. I have regarded it as the most exciting event in my life so far. It . was a very strange and fearful event when it happened. It ended as a joke, though. But when it took place, it upset and terrified me beyond description. Let me describe it in a right way.
It happened one night. I was sleeping with my elder brother in one room of our house. Mother and sisters were sleeping in other rooms. Father was not present. At about midnight I woke up as I heard some kind of sound coming from the kitchen of our house. I was, truly speaking, afraid. It so happened that there were several thieves in our neighbourhood in the past few weeks. Every one was alert and apprehensive. I was old enough to imagine all sorts of robberies. I always imagined that big, black men would break into the house, beat us and run away with all our belongings. This was a constant fear with me in those days. We had no servants in our house, and father was out of station.
Naturally, under such circumstances, any sound at night was. enough to terrify me. This sound, as I said, came from the kitchen, which was in the backyard of our house. It was a very strange sound. It sounded like some one opening the kitchen door. This door was made of tin set in a wooden frame. It used to make much sound whenever it was opened or was being shut. So I began to suspect that thieves had entered into our backyard, and that they were forcing the door open. The sound became more and insistent. I was, however, so terribly frightened that I was not even able to cry or speak. And the sound went on increasing. It seemed to me that the thieves were inside the kitchen and that they were removing our pots and pans. There were also several tin boxes in which mother kept all the sweetmeats and other eatables. I was in a fix. I was more anxious about the loss of sweetmeat than about other things. I did not know what to do. I kept trembling in the bed.
However, the sound became so deafening that my brother also woke up. Mother also woke up and we then began to shout for help. We were all certain that thieves were there. We kept on crying and shouting and yelling. We drowned the sound of the kitchen in our own shouts. The combined sound of our voices and that coming from the kitchen became very great indeed. It was enough to awake even deaf people. It was a very exciting affair.
Our neighbours were alarmed and they came out to our house. They had gathered in our compoạnd and were asking us to. open the door. They kept on shouting and thumping on the door of our house. They thus added their own voice to that of ours. But mother was not willing to open the door, to let our neighbours inside our house. She refused to open the door, and said that if the door was . opened, the thieves might rush in along with the neighbours. Besides, she was not certain about these neighbours. She suspected that the thieves were acting the part of the neighbours.
She refused to believe that our neighbours had really come to help us at this late hour. She was sure that the people outside were really thieves, pretending to be neighbours. All this became very terribly exciting. Meanwhile, the sound from the kitchen did not stop. It began to fill the whole of the kitchen. We imagined that the thieves were taking away every pot and spoon and fork. My brother and sisters and I entreated mother to open the door so that our neighbours might come in and see what could be done. But she refused to listen to any such idea. She, however, said that she would wait till she heard the voice of the night watchman who went round our house every night. She had faith in no one else.
Fortunately, the voice of the night watchman became audible from a distance. We breathed a sigh of relief. Mother became calm and anxiously waited for the arrival of the watchman. To the repeated knocks of our neighbours the only said that the would never open the door until the watchman arrived. Our neighbours were good people and so they, waited in order to pacify mother, whom they knew to be a very generous hostess.
The voice of the watchman came nearer and became louder, We were all glad at this. At last the watchman came to our house and gave the usual word of caution, asking us to wake up. There was no need of such a word on that night, since we were more than awake! As soon as mother heard his reassuring voice, she opened the door.
All the neighbours now came in, followed by the watchman We all lined up. We were about ten people now, including the watchman. The sound from the kitchen was going on as usual. In fact, it became frantic, deafening. It seemed as if all the tin boxes were being thrown open, one after another. The watchman became our leader. With his big stick and huge body he asked us to keep close behind him as he boldly went to the door and stood ready to open it. This was our poor watchman leading to our kitchen. I stood behind my brother all excited and curious.
The watchman then opened the door. He proceeded towards w the kitchen. We all followed him cautiously, inch by inch. There was no light in the kitchen, and still the sound inside did not stop. The watchman had his own lantern which he now held up. It lighted the backyard and we saw that the door of the kitchen was not at all open. it was closed as we had closed it when we went to sleep. So the incident became all the more exciting. What was this sound proceeding from inside our kitchen?
Mother asked the watchman to open the door of the kitchen. We were glad to hear this because mother did not allow any outsider inside the kitchen. She must have realised the importance of some one opening the kitchen at this time. The watchman slowly, opening the door, raised his lantern and his stick, ready to face any danger. But the sound increased all the more as the watchman opened the door. He held the lantern up and let light fall inside the kitchen. And then we saw a very strange thing.
The sound was being made by the movement of a cat whose head was inside a tin box which it was rolling about the whole of the . kitchen. The cat had put its head inside the tin box but was unable to take it out. And so it was running from one corner of the kichen to another most fanatically. All the sound we heard was due to this strange adventure of the cat. As we all entered into the kitchen, we stood wondering and delighted at this performance of the cat. Meanwhile, our entrance made the cat more excited. It jumped and thumped and danced and ran about for its very life. It could not see us since its head was stuck inside the tin.
And now one of our neighbours came forth to rescue this poor cat which was almost mad in its efforts to free itself from the tin box. He asked us to clear out and leave the door fully opened. He then caught the cat and pulled it out. The cat was thus taken out and as it came out, we saw that it was holding a rat in its mouth. We now saw what it all meant. It was clear that the rat had entered the tin box to meat the sweetmeats and that the cat had tried to catch the rat. But somehow or other, the head of the cat had got itself held up inside the tin box. Evidently, the mouth of the box was big enough. And so the poor cat had got its head fixed inside the box. And it was trying to get its head out of that box. All the noise and sound had procession from the rat’s adventure with the cat. in the I wish I could describe the great fun and uproarious laughter which broke out froim us all when we saw the adventure of our own cat. We all looked a little foolish when we saw what a fuss we had made about this little affair. The thieves were really responsible for all this. They had caused a panic in the neighbourhood by their reported burgleries. All the neighbours were glad when they saw that it was all a cat’s work. Father, however, was very happy because this gave him an excuse for inviting our neighbours to a tea-party the next morning. The watchman was not forgotten. And the whole company broke up and we all went back to our beds. Father repeated the invitation to each neighbour as they bid goodnight and left our house. And so the whole affair ended.
This strange incident had left a lasting impression upon my memory. I have entertained many of my friends by describing it very often. I hope I have done the same thing now. If you think that this is an exaggerated story, please consult our neighbours and our cat, on whose neck there are still the marks of that night’s adventure.