He was so scared to see us standing there - my husband, me and our domestic helper, broom in hand. He was only a little fellow, and we looked at him silently, while his eyes darted here and there, seeking some means of escape. We were equally alarmed, but sorry for him, too; he was so young. Should we try to catch him or let him off, we wondered.
We debated amongst ourselves, and decided it would be less cruel to keep him. Though my helper said it would be best to let him go.
As my husband approached him hand outstretched, he let off such a salvo, that my husband halted in his tracks, and I nearly jumped out of my skin. At that stage I don’t know who was more scared, the little fellow or me.
Still giving off those alarmingly high-pitched squeaks, he scampered off to hide behind the cupboard. My maid went after him with her broom, and we told her to let him be, and come out when he wanted. He was so small, and we could not help feeling sorry for him. I went to look at him behind the cupboard, and saw a pair of beady eyes glinting, and his raised tail swishing.
My husband said that he must have come in from the balcony. And we went out to check. We decided the little squirrel must have fallen out of some tree on to the balcony, (see picture) and frightened by the crows into scampering inside.
When a little later we decided to feed him, we could not find him behind the cupboard. We found him in another room. As soon as he saw us approaching he scuttled off again into hiding. We then decided to leave the door to the balcony open, so he could find his way out. Encouraging squirrels to stay inside the house was not one of our priorities – they have in previous instances found a convenient hiding place in the air conditioner, nibbled through expensive clothes and soft curtains to make nests, and built those nests inside the washing machine, a defunct radio cabinet and even an unused brass vessel in the loft.
Eventually, in various stages he went out to the balcony and from there to the ground below. We kept tabs on him, but we could not find him later, and assume that he would have gone back to where he came from.
When I narrated this episode on the phone to my almost-four granddaughter, she asked, “What about his Amma and Appa? Did they not come to take him home?”
The perspective of a child, so far removed from the adult’s selfishness. I was silenced.