Ammi never believed in air conditioning. It was a waste of money, “Vaah! Kya ek sundar haava!” She would say, pointing to the open window. What a beautiful breeze! I saw nothing beautiful about it; it was merely a gust of hot air hitting me as soon as I walked into our humble abode.
We had guests coming over one night and like many other Indian mothers, Ammi slaved in the kitchen for 2 nights in a row in order to make sure that no one left our home hungry. I don’t know how she does it; being in the kitchen felt like being in Satan’s armpits and the fact that the air conditioning was mere decoration for the household did not add to the cause.
I spent hours rolling balls of dough into perfectly round rotis; this was the first time I managed to do so. I slapped each one on top of the tawa (stove) and observed as almost all of them puff up; the sign of a well made roti. I stacked them all up, marching my way to the dining room.
Something didn’t look right; more like didn’t look at me right. It looked right into my soul with its beady little eyes. Its curved caramel tail, its arms in my direction like a t-rex— well I think; we were just learning about dinosaurs in Kindergarten. My arms went limp as my rotis found themselves on the floor as my vocal chords let out a, “SQUIIIIRRRRRELLLLLLL!” Ammi came running from the other end of the house, with terror in her eyes— not because of the intruder, rather the fact that I had dropped all of the rotis. “What is the squirrel going to do to you? Do you not realize how much food just went to waste because of what a baby you are?” screeched Ammi. Not like there was a rabid animal that just entered our home through the window you love to keep open. The mix of flour and water is what you’re upset over.
Ammi left me alone with the squirrel. What an amazing mother, leaving her 5 year old child with a trespasser.
This squirrel found itself on top of Ammi’s beloved china cabinet. He looked down on me as if I was supposed to bow down to him. “No Mr. Squirrel, I am much taller than you; you don’t scare me”— quit lying to yourself, you’re scared of anything that moves.
It took a good week to get Mr. Squirrel out of our house. Like Ammi always does, the window stayed open in hopes Mr. Squirrel would leave sooner. But I guess he found home on top of that china cabinet. Surprisingly, Mr. Squirrel was not that much of a nuisance. He ate dinner with us, he would silently eat the food we would throw in his direction in order to scare him away and did not move much. Mr. Squirrel was not even an issue, however it was the fact that Ammi still kept the window open and Mr. Squirrel came back only a few days later.