Thomas sat there, like a stone. Nothing that lay in front of him, registered. The cries, the intermittent wails, the shocked faces of the people around, just did not make any sense to him. He seemed to be in some other world, alone, perplexed and disorientated, not quite being able to connect himself to anything around. And what was he seeing far far away?
Five youngsters, working together and becoming great friends over just a few years was an amazing way to live in a country, far away from home. The families would together spend time, specially on all special occasions as well as festivals. Together, they had made a home away from home. Thomas, Vikram, John, Yusuf and Timmy, worked in a software company in New York. They were all products of the best educational institutions of their countries and were doing exceeding well, professionally.
All these five were young and raring to go, in their own field of job. In a short while they happened to meet, bond and became very close friends. Except Timmy, every body else was married. Yusuf and John had two and three children respectively. Vikram’s wife was in the family way. They were all very happy together. For the purpose of staying close to each other, all of them bought houses in the same vicinity, though for that they had to move to the suburbs. But no-one seemed to mind it at all!They were all there for each other and had become a nice mix of being ‘family’ and ‘friends.’
Timmy and his girl friend, lived together but had no kids, by choice. The two of them loved animals and they had 4 dogs of various breeds and 6 cats, as pets. They doted on their pets and the other friends loved them too, except Thomas. He could not pet them as others did, for he was not comfortable about that being very hygienic; the hair from their coat all around the place, they licking every one, made him quite uncomfortable. His friends would try to ease his discomfort but failed miserably in doing so.
One fine day Thomas and his wife, to everybody’s joy, announced that they were going to be parents soon. It was a big celebration and the baby was about six months away. The friends started speaking of all the baby things that the new parents -to -be, would be needing and most of them were readily available with the already -parents. Amidst all this excitement, some very disturbing thoughts, that no one was even aware of, started cropping up in Thomas’s mind. Much as he wanted to, he could not throw out the thoughts from his mind and the more he tried, the more they stuck on. As he went to bed, sleep refused to come. All those uncomfortable thoughts, that were pestering him all day, came flooding by and filled his mind with in-numerable visions; visions of Timmy’s pets running around all over his house, playing with his infant! The infant, growing up to be a baby, a toddler and all the while the pets playing with it, running all around, jumping all over, licking, barking and the baby, rolling around, gurgling with laughter. Thomas could see the menacing hairs, growing , growing reaching out towards him and he screamed and sat up on the bed. He was drenched in sweat and he got up and started pacing up and down the room.
This became a regular feature now in Thomas’s life. The thoughts and these visuals never left him all day and became threatening at night.He did not know how he would keep his yet -to -be -born child away from such a scenario. The apprehensions of all the adverse effects regarding health and hygiene of the child, filled him with fear that kept growing and growing by the day. All this fear hugely affected him and he became irritable and short tempered. His friends tried to talk it out with him but to no avail. They attributed this sudden impatience to having pre -parental blues and each one of them in their own way, tried to cheer him up as much as possible. The lovely day arrived bringing in little John to this beautiful world. Every one was overjoyed including Thomas, who, in welcoming his little boy, forgot all about scary thoughts. The new father, looking at the little chubby red bundle of flesh and blood in his arms, found himself transported to a new world altogether. He stayed such for quite many days, in complete bliss.
One evening, when he returned from work, as usual, he headed straight to his baby’s room with all the eagerness of the world but froze at the door of the room. Timmy’s dogs were all around in the room; two were jumping on the bed near the cradle and the rest were running around squeaking and barking in joy. Thomas’s wife, Margarette sat there smiling on a rocking chair, enjoying the whole scenario. All the horrible thoughts and fear that had been troubling Thomas, till some days before, came rushing back to his mind. He shuddered and shooed away all the dogs out of the room. He shouted at his wife too as to why did she let the dogs in. Margarette was taken aback but she thought that Thomas would have had a bad day at work.
Time flew past and soon little John started crawling. One evening, after work, on return, Thomas saw John putting his teether into the mouth of one of Thomas’s dogs. John laughingly would pull the teether out and put it into his own mouth. Thomas was stunned, to say the least. He picked up laughing John and kicked the dog out of his house. Whimpering, the dog ran to his own house. This incident had a very scary impact on Thomas’s mind. All sorts of fearful probabilities, filled his mind. Much as he tried, he could get rid of these scary thoughts.
One day Margarette, along with John, planned to visit her parents, residing in a neighbouring town, for a few days. An idea took shape in Thomas’s disturbed mind. Margarette with John left for the station in a cab and Thomas left for work, that was in the opposite direction. In five minutes of leaving, Thomas came back and called out for Thomas’s dogs who were playing in the garden. They came running and jumped in glee as Thomas threw some biscuits at them and walked out for work. He never knew that fate had a total unexpected twist for him. Due to some repair work going on, the train route that Margarette was to take, had been closed and all the ticket holders received a message. On receiving the message, Margarette with John returned home right away. The dogs came jumping to receive them. John was thrilled to see the dogs out there and started playing with them while Margarette opened the door. Then the most terrible thing happened.
Thomas stood at his porch now, looking at the dogs lying out there, dead. An inconsolable Margarett, with little John in her arms, was climbing into an ambulance. The ambulance door shut quickly but not before Thomas noticed, a piece of biscuit clutched in John’s tiny hand. The ambulance, with it’s menacing siren, rushed past, leaving Thomas standing there almost like a statue.