One of the most remarkable things about kids is that they are always able to wake up smiling. Not so with us adults. Almost everyday, we wake up unhappy about something or the other. Of course, this doesn’t hold true for that rare and noble group of human beings : those who just love to get up at dawn and nonchalantly walk or jog a few miles. No, I’m talking about ordinary mortals here.
Take me for example. If you’re observing me in the process of waking up in the morning on an average day (not a pretty sight), or, nearly in the afternoon if it’s a good day, you’ll see one of three expressions on my face. The first is one of considerable alarm. That one usually stands for either “Oh shit, I missed the Economics lecture again. I’m so dead.” or “Oh no, I’m so gonna miss the bus to office today.” Another expression would be a curious mixture of resignation and a bad hangover. It usually means, “wait, what time is it? I slept for 11 hours? Oh hell, I should go back to sleep. Nothing to lose.” A third one will give you a fine display of righteous indignation and anger, directed at my phone or alarm-clock : “Are you effing kidding me?? It’s 8 o’ clock already? I had barely closed my eyes!” This happens on most of the days.
However, whenever I go home on vacation (usually once a couple of months or so), it’s a completely different story. Any given day of the days I’m home, come see me on similar hours. Instead of any of the above, you’ll find me grinning from ear to ear as soon as I open my eyes. No, it’s not like the folks at home let me sleep as much as I want. It’s because I have a very special personal wake up call whenever I’m home. This is what she looks like :
Pretty, no? Meet my 3-year-old German Shepherd : Ladli. She…loves me, if you can actually understand that. She gets distinctly unhappy when I pack my bags at the end of each small vacation. While I am home, however, she consistently gets away with murder. You see, she has this idea that when I’m home, she owns the exclusive rights to my time. And whenever she feels she is not getting as much of my time and attention as she is entitled to, she doesn’t take it lying down. And I mean that literally in most cases. It’d make a small book if I were to describe all her antics here. Lets keep to subject we started with.
Well, for the entire time I spend at home, she keeps track of my movements to inches. And whenever I’m asleep, she keeps track of the time as well. As soon as she decides I’ve had enough sleep, she comes to wake me up. In order to achieve that objective, she has several methods. They are of varying intensity, and are employed on a gradually ascending order depending on the depth of my sleep and time taken before I’m sitting up, hugging her and grinning at her. Here goes :
- Tentative sniffing of my head and face, along with a few hesitant nudges.
- Licking my face and ears gently.
- Catching hold of an earlobe(mine, of course) loosely between her teeth and tugging softly but insistently.
If, somehow, I still manage to sleep on, all pretense of politeness vanishes. She manhandles me so that I’m lying on my back (I haven’t figured out how she manages that). She then proceeds to plant one of her front paws firmly in the middle of my chest, and starts licking every square centimeter of my face vigorously. As if that weren’t enough, she also starts barking sharp angry barks, again directed to my face. And trust me on this, from a range of about 3 inches, it’s a sound that would rouse all the zombies in the entire Resident Evil series. What do I do? Simple, I push her roughly off the bed. She doesn’t mind. In fact, that’s exactly what she waits for. She takes a few steps backwards. Then, with a short run-up culminating in a perfectly executed jump, she lands explosively on my torso. Here’s what follows :
Parents arrive next, threatening to kick both of us out of the house. At this point, she hides behind me, trying to look innocent. I offer lame excuses and assurances to my parents. Once they leave, Ladli gets off the bed, walks to the door, and calmly waits for me to get off the bed and get her a few biscuits. Because by then she knows, as well as I do, that I’m not going back to sleep. She also knows, just as well as I do, that I don’t mind. Because very rarely does one get the chance to feel and act like a kid again. Why waste it sleeping?