29 March 2013
A piercing shriek echoed through the house, followed by the scampering of little feet. The Twins hurtled into the kitchen and threw themselves at Reggie and me, crying hysterically.
“What’s wrong? What happened?” I asked, embracing Bheki and patting her back in a calming sort of way. Reggie had picked up Thabo, and was rocking him soothingly. Both the Twins sported a couple of new scratches.
We couldn’t make head or tail of their reply, but then they are still very little and don’t know many words.
Aunty Lissi walked into the kitchen to investigate the commotion. She had been helping Richard to clean out a cupboard prior to re-laying some cables. She took one look at the Twins and said, knowingly, “Ah-hah! They tried their luck with Tiger!”
“You have a TIGER in the house?!” I asked, dumbfounded. “Richard hadn’t told me that! I’m not sure I feel comfortable sharing a house with a tiger!”
“Not A tiger,” emphasised Lissi, grinning, “just Tiger. But he can be as fearsome as a real proper tiger! Come, I think you should meet him properly.”
We followed her out onto the stoep, where a beautiful grey-and-black striped cat was busy grooming himself. He looked up – and gave the Twins a withering look, before continuing to groom his long bushy tail. The Twins stared back defiantly from the safety of our arms, but their confidence wilted, as soon as we put them down on the floor.
“Thabo and Bheki, this is Tiger,” said Aunty Lissi.
Tiger purred affectionately, when Aunty Lissi reached out to scratch him behind the ears. She continued, “Tiger, these are the naughty Twins.”
He looked at them disdainfully, before pointedly turning around and swishing his tail in their faces. They jumped backwards in fright.
“You pulled his tail, didn’t you?” asked Reggie.
They looked down shamefacedly, and then nodded. We found it hard to suppress a giggle, as they looked so adorably contrite.
“You need to apologise,” I insisted. “Go on.”
The Twins held each other’s hands for support – it’s so cute! – and said, with a suitably apologetic look at Tiger, who was sitting expectantly in front of them: “We are very sorry for pulling your tail, Tiger. We shan’t do it again.”
Tiger looked sternly at them, then approached and rubbed the side of his face against each of them in turn. They froze, clearly unsure whether he would nip them, then reached down to stroke him gently. He purred, before turning around and scampering off into the garden – probably to find some peace and quiet away from the Twins, before they got into more mischief!