A Lifeguard for a Day

A four-legged neighbour has always fascinated me ever since my younger days. My first encounter with this beauty goes back to the summer holidays in the 90s. My mother was then posted in Bhopal. As a working mother, she rarely had a lot of spare time unlike me. On one of the many regular days while she was away, I saw her up-close and became a lifeguard for the first time.

The sun was at its harshest and Stupid (my dog) and I were still playing in the garden. We chased each other till we ran out of energy, gasping for breath and falling on the freshly trimmed grass for a break. We napped for a good few minutes only to be woken by a splashing sound which came from the bucket under the pine tree. Initially scared, I stood up to get a closer look when stupid suddenly started barking and wagging her tail at the same time. It was her way of saying ‘its not scary’. As I went close with her, I finally saw this neighbour. She was a beautiful, tiny, slightly hairy and tired squirrel trying its best to get out of the bucket.

The decision time is crucial for everyone. That point, I remembered my mom telling me ‘never to touch wild animals especially the babies’. The mothers don’t Prefer a human smell on their offspring and therefore, reject them. An orphaned baby is as good as dead but I didn’t want to think of the consequences. I knew one thing. This little one needed my help. I quickly placed my hands under her, scooped her gently and placed her on the dry land where she stayed for a long time till she was good to climb back home. Fortunately, my gods were kind as always and she wasn’t abandoned.