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Monty, Granny and the Babysitter
by Pesi J. Padshah

My name is Annapurna and I’m eight years old. My Mummy is short, so she named me after a very high mountain in the Himalayas, hoping I would grow up tall. I, too, am trying my best, but they say it will take time. This story is not about me though, it’s about my pet, Monty, whose real name is Montague but we don’t use it except when we want to say something about him without letting him know who we are talking about. In the beginning this trick used to work but very soon he knew what we were up to, and would be prepared. That made it difficult for us, especially when we all had to go out leaving Monty behind. Monty didn’t like being left behind when Mummy, Daddy, I and our big dog Scamp, all went out together. So for his sake, one of us – it could even be Scamp – would have to be left at home to keep him company. Mummy and Daddy didn’t mind if Monty came along with us but I’d get worried sick at what he might get up to. He’s very inquisitive . . . always poking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Some of those places could be quite dangerous, which is why I am always afraid to take Monty along.

One day we all went out for a short drive ; all of us that is, except Monty, and Scamp whose turn it was to ‘baby sit’ as Dad calls it. While we were out Granny came to visit us after a long time, without telling us she was coming. She had a key to the front door and had let herself in, as she often did, and waited for us to arrive. Usually, when we got back, Granny would be quite cheerful and greet us with a big smile even if she’d had to wait. This time we’d been away only half an hour, yet Granny looked as if she’d forgotten completely, how to smile. She was sitting on the settee and looking at Scamp most suspiciously. Scamp was sitting across the room looking back at her just as suspiciously. As soon as Mummy and Daddy followed me into the room, Granny pointed to Scamp and burst out :

“There’s something terribly wrong with that dog. He attacked me for no reason at all. “

“Calm down Mother”, said Mummy, “tell us exactly what happened.”

“Well I was sitting where I am now, reading a book”, began Granny, “when I noticed this nasty little imp of a mouse sniffing at my feet. You know how terrified I am of mice, but I didn’t panic. I quickly rolled up a newspaper and was about to smack the blighter, when I found he’d climbed halfway up my sari. I screamed and started whacking away at him, and then Scamp, for no reason at all, leapt at me making the most fearsome sounds. He pushed me back into the settee, and stood over me in a decidedly threatening manner.”

“What happened to the mouse?” I asked Granny, suddenly feeling worried.

“Goodness me, child”, exclaimed Granny “how do I know what happened to it? It must have seen one ferocious dog and one hysterical grandmother and chosen to disappear.”

“Did it have big ears and a long tail?” I asked still feeling worried. Granny was trying hard to get Mummy and Daddy to sympathize, but Daddy was grinning and Mummy was having an attack of the giggles, so Granny turned to me rather crossly and said :

“My dear, when one is being set upon by a mouse on one side, and leapt at by a large dog on the other, one doesn’t observe details like the size of the mouse’s ears or the full extent of its tail ........” She was all set to go on but stopped, and a strange look came over her. She pointed at my shirt pocket and let out a scream. When she’d finished screaming she shouted “Take care child, its back again . . . in your pocket . . . look! I’d know that mouse anywhere “.

I looked and sure enough there he was without my knowing how he’d got there. He looked back at me, and from the way his whiskers twitched, I knew he needed help.

“Please don’t shout and scream Granny”, I said, speaking gently but firmly, as Mother has taught me to speak to grown-ups, even when they act as though they’re mad. “This is Montague, my mouse. He’s very upset right now. I can feel him shivering.”

“Oh he is, is he?” said Granny only a little less loudly than before. “Tell him I’m sorry to hear it, and that he’s not the only one upset or shivering”.

“Well if you’re really sorry”, I replied, “you’d keep your voice down a bit, and try to make friends with him”.

Now all at once Granny was smiling.

“Annapurna my darling, your demands are even taller than the mountain you’ve been named after. But since you are my one and only granddaughter, I’ll try and meet them. Now what do I have to do to make friends with your precious Montague?” So I told her what to do, step by step.

Granny’s finger was shaking quite a lot and I had to take her hand and bring it up to Monty who was also shaking quite a lot. Then I took her finger and made her stroke Monty’s head. After a while both of them stopped shaking and they were friends.

When Scamp saw Granny smiling and stroking Monty, the suspicious look went out of his eye and he walked over to her wagging his tail, sat down beside her and offered her his paw. It was his way of saying that whatever had upset him earlier was now forgiven and forgotten. Then Granny being the good sport she is, said:

“Alright Scamp, if I choose to visit this crazy household, I suppose I have to accept it on its terms and not mine”, and she shook his paw while Monty and I looked on, satisfied.     

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

10-Sep-2006
 
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