Thursday, October 26, 2006

Allah's Alley Cats

The will of Allah is a mighty thing. So potent and capriciously unpredictable is Allah's pleasure, that the very phrase in sh'allah must be invoked after even the most mundane oral transaction that hints at any future activity, effectively quashing the possibility of human control or accountability. "See you tomorrow." "In sh'allah!" "What time does the train leave?" "Three o'clock - in sh'allah." Not surprising, those of us of a decidely more occidental ilk find this turn of phrase not so much quaint & colourful but infuriating & aggravating. So automatic (and probably hollow) is this response that a more enterprising individual (preferably with a prediliction for alcohol) might create a drinking game; for example, drink 1 whiskey shot every time you hear an in sh'allah ... 2 for alhamdulillah (Allah be praised!), 3 for bismellah (in the name of Allah!), etc.

For the past month, it was Allah's will that I not sleep through the night and that I should be interrupted anytime between 2 and 7 a.m., preferably more than once during any given evening. His agents of choice were the Ramadan Tambourine Man, the late-night revellers, the calls to prayer, and the various nocturnal wildlife in my neighbourhood. I do not know why He, who is considered merciful and compassionate, should wish to deprive me of my sleep, but He did.

I thought that Allah's will might change - relent a bit - at the conclusion of Ramadan. Surely sated with all the suffering and discomfort of the past month, He might grant me at least one night of perfect sleep. I understand now that I was guileless in the supposition that an insignificant mortal such as I can predict and discern Allah's will. It was arrogant & foolhardy of me, and I should be punished for it. And I was.

Last night, approaching the traditional witching hour of 3 a.m., one, then two cats decided to make their presence known to all the denizens of our neighbourhood. Where they were exactly I do not know but I am tempted to place the 2 animals somewhere near or at the foot of our bed - although logic dictates that this is very unlikely. Suffice to say, they were outside. As a cat person, I had been rather confident up until last night that I had heard pretty much every sound that a cat can emit. Not so!

The first cat howled. Well, not howled so much as screamed (think bamboo shoots under the claws) to such a feverish degree that my ears were on the verge of bleeding, the tides turning, the stars falling out of the sky, and the dead rising from their graves. It was so gut-wrenching & otherworldly that I felt compelled to share the moment with Mr. Cat in Rabat. Surely he wasn't sleeping during this infernal din? But what if it were Allah's will that he sleep soundly? Do I dare offer Allah yet another affront? Or perhaps I was Allah's agent that night, and He was expecting me to give Mr. CinR a quick poke in the ribs? "You awake?" "Yup." I am the instrument of God.

After about three-quarters of an hour, our second cat arrived. This interloper wasn't content to lend its voice in harmony; rather, it wished to enlist its predecessor in mortal combat. There then ensued a cat fight of apocalyptic proportions - surely the Gates of Hell had opened up to cheer on both combatants. Tucked inside our beds, we could hear the fur flying, visualise the cats charging at each other. After another 20 minutes or so of this pitched fighting and eardrum-shattering screams - again at decibels that only a familiar of Satan could produce - there was a grand crescendo of pain and anguish, one final, earth-moving, tympanic membrane-piercing caterwaul, and then .... silence.

The silence was more terrifying than the screams. Was there a dead or dying cat outside our window? Was one now pregnant as a result of a sado-erotic tryst that would make a black widow spider recoil? Should we do something? Had the cats retired to their corners, only to start again once refreshed. Sleep eluded us; we were too tense with apprehension of what might come next to rest. In desperation, I decided to try the silicon-based neon-orange earplugs Mr. CinR had brought me from Canada. One breaks off a little plastic-y wad and, rolling it into a ball, flattens it against the opening of the ear canal. Theoretically, it should hermetically seal the ear. Nevertheless, not only did it allow the safe and unobstructed passage of all sounds into my ears but so convinced was I that the little balls of waxy goop would become permanently lodged inside my ears and eventually make their way into any of the 8 sinus cavities inside my head that I passed the rest of the night staring at the ceiling & composing this post.

To be fair, it was a much cleverer blog at 5:30 in the morning. Clearly, I must learn how to take notes when I am in that semi-zombie world of those cursed never to sleep again. Perhaps it is not Allah's will that I learn this skill but, in fact, I don't dare consider the possibility either way.


Blogger knarf said...

So, the moral of this story is:

Mushy plasticky orangie earpluggies don't work worth a shit?

8:37 p.m.  
Anonymous Liosliath said...

Why don't you try some white noise? Fans always worked for me, and I was lots closer to J'maa Badr! :)

8:48 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

There is no moral to the story or if there were one, I forgot it in the wee hours of the morning.

Believe it or not, I don't think white noise would drown out the sound of howling cats. I'm rather sceptical on that point.

9:09 a.m.  
Blogger ByronB said...

You could try closing the window at night - I myself find this keeps the noise out remarkably successfully.

4:13 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Windows closed!

9:52 p.m.  
Anonymous Cath said...

Might I suggest a pellet gun?

12:22 a.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

A pellet gun would have been equally useful on the dozen dogs that kept us awake the following night. *Sigh*

6:57 p.m.  
Anonymous neighbor said...

Have you considered putting out poison to kill the mice and rats? There is a warning label to keep this away from pets but if they are not your pets...

10:20 a.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Tempting ...

3:10 p.m.  

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