It was cold this morning when Ashish left for his office. Alone now, how to pass the day weighed heavily upon me like a dark, thousand-ton burden. I stood at the French window that frames a lovely view of the lake, brimming with life in the warm months of the year. Now it lay frozen and desolate, the barren trees standing patiently, waiting for the warm breath of summer to return.
The only color visible in the outside world was white. Surprisingly, all the cars were white too, covered as they were with winter’s snow. I missed the colors of the summer months, and the people strolling and playing along the lakeshore. It told me I was in the middle of a vibrant civilization.
I decided to make an effort to pull myself out of the depression that had taken control of my life. As I was about to turn away from the window, I noticed something moving in the shrub that’s right outside my apartment. A large squirrel was staring at me with his big black eyes. The squirrel looked like a toy that someone had placed at the edge of the shrub. I didn’t move for a long time for I was afraid of scaring away the only companion I had.
After a while, the squirrel moved a little closer to my window, but I still did not move. Then the squirrel moved very close to the window, so close that only the window pane separated us. He looked so beautiful with his fluffy fur and beautiful salt-and-pepper tail arched over his back. His large toes and curved claws were clearly visible. Next, he sat up on his back feet and folded his front “hands” close to his chest. He looked like an old man sitting on a stool, wondering what he had forgotten to bring home from the market that his wife had sent him to get.
I suddenly remembered that I had some bread pieces left from breakfast that I could share with this poor soul. My sudden movement to get the bread scared Mr. Squirrel and he ran back to the shrub. I was devastated for I didn’t want to lose my new friend. With the bread in hand, I stood silently where I had stood before and prayed that he would return. After a few moments, he did return, and this time he was a little bolder in approaching me.
When I opened the window, a cold gush of wind chilled my face. Sitting down, I extended my hand with a piece of bread toward the squirrel. He waited at a safe distance, but shifted his eyes back and forth from mine to the bread several times. He was clearly interested in the bread. I realized that I would not be able to get the squirrel to come to me so I made small pieces of the bread and threw them closer to him. The moment I closed the window, he rushed to the bread, took a piece in both hands, sat on his back feet, and began nibbling.
This interaction between the Squirrel and I made me realize how fascinating the tea party must have been for Alice at the Mad Hatter tea party, with the Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse there.
The squirrel didn’t let anything go to waste and never dropped a single piece of bread. All this while, he kept looking at me as he continued to eat. Was he thanking me? I smiled at the thought and wished I could talk to this special animal. After he ate his full, he grabbed one piece of bread and ran to hide it. He came back again and again, each time running off in a different direction to hide each morsel. It was fascinating to see him so busy and so serious with the task of hiding the food for later use.
After the squirrel hid every piece of bread, he came again to my window. This time he stood on his hind feet and stretched his whole body to its maximum length. He apparently wanted more food and stood like this for a long time. But I didn’t want to give him too much food, for I didn’t want to make him sick. I thought, Please come back tomorrow. I can’t give you any more food today.
As if he understood what I was thinking, he hopped away without even looking back. I felt so sad to see him go away like that, and wished that he would come back. And he did come back. He comes back every day now. I have named him Phil and he brightens my life in these gloomy winter days.
I am so happy that I found a new friend in such an unexpected way.