Sunday, March 20, 2011

The mystery sound

You know how, when you're engrossed in a book you're reading or otherwise concentrating ferociously on something, everything else gets blocked out? All other thoughts, feelings, sensations, discomforts and other distractions recede so far to the back of your mind that you are no longer aware of them.

But occasionally they will intrude and creep in through the cracks of your attention. This is an okay novel I'm reading, and the author obviously knows a lot at first hand about Afghanistan in general and in particular Kabul, a place to which, if I had any doubts before, I now most certainly do not ever want to go. But I think because I was getting more and more irritated by the author's naive, unthinking American chauvinism -- well yes of course Kabul would be a better place if only we were all wearing our jeans and our Nikes -- my subconscious was allowing a sound to creep in.

At first I was only very dimly aware of it, far in the background. It was only a soft sound. It was a kind of bubbling noise. Maybe the bloke next door was giving the ancient outboard motor on his ancient boat an airing, as he does from time to time? No, too soft, and also no stink of diesel. Maybe the bloke on the other side of the bloke next door on the other side was revving his motorbike? No that's not right either. Some sort of faint underground rumbling from the ancient plumbing? No surprises there, if so, but no. Perhaps the hot water service has exploded again and what I can hear is bubbling and spluttering like last time, which means if I go out to the kitchen I'll see water running down the walls and two grand going down the drain. Nope, that's not right either.

Then a little, smoky shadow shifted at my feet.

It was purring.

9 comments:

lucy tartan said...

A couple of weeks ago I was woken by a faint noise that I thought was a stealthy, regular tapping on the living room window. After lying there in a befuddled panic for several minutes I realised it was the cat snoring, ever so quietly, next to my feet.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

But no little voice calling 'Heathcliff! Let me in! I'm so cold!'?

I was once sleeping in the spare room at my parents' place and woke up in the dead of night feeling quite nauseated. First I thought I'd dreamed the bed was rocking. Then realised the bed really was rocking and that was what was making me sick. The bed was rocking because the cat was having a really big serious wash.

Barbara Temperton said...

Oh, I do miss having a cat. Forever-flatulent, snoring dogs under my desk, chair, feet, etc., are no competition for a cat. I used to have one that, whenever I was upset, would sleep on my chest with her front legs around my neck.

The Elephant's Child said...

I have to ask: Which book - The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul leapt to my mind, but there are certainly others.
And I am often woken by the sound of a cat abluting loudly with evident relish. Gotta luv them.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Top guessing there, Elephant's Child. The very one.

elsewhere said...

Oh! For a moment, I thought you were going to say it was the sound of one hand clapping.

I have been subject to a lot of witchy behaviour recently, within and outside the conventional witching hour, which I put down to her Ladyship not receiving the amount of attention she'd like.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

El, in its own way, I think it was the sound of one hand clapping. If you can think of anything more Zen than the quality of contented felinity, I would be interested to hear what it is.

Frances said...

I have a certain awe of cats...but isn't their attitude to birds somewhat lacking and reprehensible?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Frances, yes indeed it is. Which is why my cats have always been inside cats, except for a regrettable couple of weeks when they were half-grown and I experimented with letting them into the back yard. After a few weeks of bird-hunting and nest-robbing, the injured live sparrow in the hallway was the clincher, and sparrows are just mice of the air as we know. If it had been a rainbow lorikeet I might have had to take the cats back to the RSPCA.