Even now, at the later stage in my life, I am still a bad sleeper. Something to do with an overactive mind, which makes me go into a trance of detailed dreams, nothing of which I can remember in the morning. Even though my hearing is not the best, the slightest little noise would rouse me from my slumber, wondering what in the world was happening.
Some people may call them vermin, others know them as furry little creatures that Mother Nature provides, to make up the diverse balance of this world. Then there are those who would just scream in horror at the thought of one invading their home! I am talking about rats and mice. Basically they are nocturnal animals. At night they come out of their safe hiding places to look for food and sustenance to feed themselves or their young.
Now if your house just seems to be in the path of their nightly wanderings then of course the odour of freshly cooked food or even a tastier morsel that may be found in the decaying debris at the bottom of the discarded items bin may just push our nocturnal friends to enter the sanctity of your house.
When I was a young child, we lived in a rented house up on the side of a hill. I remember the street to be raised at one end to facilitate access to some of the driveways that ran up the hill to the houses. Our house was further down the street where the road levelled out a bit. A low wall built from ironstone rocks divided the road from a gutter, which in turn was spring fed from the dam above the town. Some of the gutter disappeared into the earth by means of a concrete pipe. There were always lots of frogs living in the gutter and I used to spend hours down there trying to catch the frogs. This suited my mother who could look out of the window to see me out of harms way and in or out of mischief, depending on your point of view. Some frogs were robust and brown in colour whilst others were very flat, black, and slippery. They were called Platannas which I gathered later was a colloquial African word. To this day I cannot recall what I did with a frog when I caught one.
On balmy summer nights, when the heat of the day dissipated and the corrugated iron roof started cracking as it contracted from the heat, all our nocturnal friends left the seclusion of their homes in search of mates, friends and food. The bright light at the top of the hill, our house, beckoned them to find their way through the garden foliage to beneath the window on the front veranda where insects swarmed.
Frogs, rats, mice, scorpions, snakes and cats all made their way to our front door in no particular order. Once the light was extinguished they all went their separate ways trying to reach home safely and not becoming the prey of another predator.
Last to go were the cats. They always stayed behind waiting for the one that may have been waylaid under the floorboards of the house, or who may have squeezed into that crevice between the garden rocks. Cats are supposedly sociable animals which interact quite well with humans. We feed them and they sit around the house on our furniture and shed hairs. And even though we do feed them they have still retained that hunting instinct. They still have to go out at night looking for prey.
When the time came for me to go to bed and also later in the evening, when all the lights were turned off, my dad would open all the windows of the house so that any cool air could pass through. We had no insect screens on the windows and therefore it was easy for bugs and other denizens of the night to gain free entry to the house.
I would pass into a deep sleep but ever vigilant to the noises of the darkness outside. On many occasions I would wake up startled when I felt some heavy presence was lying on or against my body. Frightened not to make a sudden move I would call out softly at first and if there was no response louder and louder. “Daaaad!, there’s a cat at the end of my bed !!