It was the late hours of an especially silent night and just like most nights, I was the only one haunting the hallways of the quiet house, while my father was fast asleep in his room. There was something about these odd hours which made me hungry. Every night, like clockwork, I found myself walking towards the fridge in the eerie, dimly lit house. I would open the fridge and pick out a snack, all the while knowing that I would complain about the unnecessary calories the next morning.
On my way to the fridge, I would often see a lizard crawling up the walls of the narrow corridor. The one thing they don’t tell you about the big colonial houses is the amount of insects and creepy crawlers that already reside there. The only problem was that I hated them, partly due to my in-apprehensible fear of snakes and lizards. It was a closely guarded secret because in my family there was no place for such cowardice. The phrase “it is more scared of you than you are of it”, was often thrown my way. Well, someone should tell that to the animal because I wasn’t sure it was sent the memo.
Like any other day, I opened the fridge only to stop dead in my tracks. There it was, staring back at me with its beady eyes. I stood paralyzed at not having expected to see the tiny lizard walking around the open packets of fruit lying on the middle shelf of the fridge. The poor thing probably got a fright as well, it probably wasn’t expecting my company. It was only a second that we stared at each other but I could have sworn it felt like a good 10 minutes. I did the only reasonable thing I could think of. I ran. Banging the door shut in my cowardly retreat.
I got back to my room and decided it was best to get back to the next episode of “The Blacklist” as I intended to finish the season before breakfast. I told myself that I’d just ask my cook in the morning to get rid of the lizard as well as the food because it was lying open in the fridge. Oh, the expenditure and the waste of good food! It wasn’t a good 5 minutes into the episode that I thought of the poor lizard. Would it survive? Could it survive? A quick search on Google would tell me that a lizard was not meant to survive the cold. The more pressing problem for a lizard in a fridge would be the oxygen, which would soon run out. I hoped that the few precious seconds that I had opened the door of the fridge would give the baby lizard some much-needed oxygen. However, I couldn’t be sure. I could still see it in my head. The tiny thing with its brown grainy scaled body and black stripes running across it. Had it been an adult lizard maybe I wouldn’t have bothered. Then why was this bothering me so much? Also, how long had it been in there? The last time someone must have opened the fridge would have been around the time we had dinner. The lizard couldn’t have been in the fridge then for the cook would have noticed. So my best estimate was that the tiny creature had been in the fridge since after dinner and stayed there till the moment I opened the fridge. That meant roughly six to seven hours. How long could it survive in the icy cold coffin?
I was never a person who would worry about such things. Things die and there was a part of me that had seen or heard so much about death that I honestly thought was I invulnerable to any such musings. Yet the thought of a dead baby lizard kept poking at my conscience. I had to help it.
I was 35 minutes into the episode that I decided I had to somehow be brave enough to get that poor thing out. It was after all a life and I was the poor thing’s only hope, for I was the only one awake! If I did nothing, would I still be responsible for its death, even if I wasn’t the one to put it in there? The finer points of that moral question would have to be deliberated on by people with more time and interest in philosophy than me, as I had a tough (and in my head, a terrifying) task of saving that baby.
I walked back to the fridge and for some reason, I saw no lizard on the walls in the hallway. I walked up to the fridge and took a deep breath as I opened it. The plan was to grab it quickly and throw it out of the cold container. My eyes scanned the shelves for any movement.
The baby lizard lay in the front. Its eyes still open with no sign of movement. I made a noise to encourage a reaction from the young reptile, but it didn’t budge. As I stood there contemplating the consequence of my cowardly procrastination I realized that in just 35 minutes, I had seen a lizard and run away and at the end of those 35 minutes I stood there, hoping I hadn’t.
In one night, or rather in that hour of that one night, I had been responsible for a living being dying and even though I was its only hope of surviving, I had done nothing.
With all those thoughts weighing down on me, I walked back to my room. Maybe I needed to stop thinking about it and move on. Fortunately for me, I still had 4 episodes to watch before the season ended. A few hours from now, after I was done with the show, I would take a walk, get ready, pet my dogs, then eat my breakfast and have my coffee while my cook would throw out the frozen body of an innocent reptile that I was too cowardly to save.