“Dennis the Menace”, that was what he was known in the neighbourhood. All of 10 years, Dennis had never considered himself to be mischievous but then unfortunately he could not regulate what others thought about him.
He had wished, why he was named Dennis. There were so many other good names that his friends carried, but he cursed why he was chosen for this forbidden name. He was sure that had his name be something else, this dreaded title would not have stuck to him.
It’s not that Dennis hadn’t questioned his parents for this audacity ever. He was told that his old grandpa was the one who chose this name. For many years, Dennis wondered what his name ever meant till he was a bit mature to understand when he was told that his name in English is derived from the Greek word, Dionysus.
Eeks! That sounded even weirder, he had thought. Thank goodness, his parents weren’t Greek, he had prayed. Dionysus is the mythological Greek God of wine responsible for the growth of vines and the originator of wine making, he was once told. Why on earth his grandpa would name him after the divinity of intoxication, he wondered.
The Cat ruins the dining table while trying to balance stuff on its hairy tail, jumps on the living room couch, and dirties the linen while it tries to swat away the flies with its muddy tail, ending up wrecking the entire house.
Dennis was amazed what all a cat could do with its bushy tail and wished he too possessed one. His mind wandered into the thoughts of all those little pranks he could play on the neighbours and friends if he had that little piece of flesh hanging below his buttocks.
Dennis was shaken alert by the screams of his mother. “Switch off the TV and get back to your bed”, she yelled and his adventurous rendezvous with the feline in the TV show abruptly ended with a click on the remote-control.
As Dennis lay on the bed, all he could dream of was the mystical kitten which could do wonders with its appendage which he himself had always wished to do. “Say your prayers before you doze off”, his mother’s voice snapped him out from his thoughts yet again.
“Dear God, all I ask from you today and forever is to give me a bushy tail”, Dennis closed his fist and prayed and before he could even dream any further, he was soon fast asleep.
It was Sunday and so Dennis had the privilege of being in bed for those extra couple of hours. Twisting and turning, the whole night he was, his sleep a bit disturbed as he felt a bit of discomfort in his posture that night.
Tossing over to the other end of his expansive bed, Dennis felt as if something poking and hurting him below his back. With his eyes half closed, he put his hand below trying to pull it out and his hands touched a furry object. He tried jerking it off and as he pulled he felt a pain below his buttocks.
Dennis sat up on the bed and as he turned his eyes behind and felt he saw something which looked like a hairy object. He jumped over and ran in front of the mirror and looked behind. It was indeed a hairy tail which had grown from his body. His prayer had come true.
Careful not to show off his prized possession to anyone, he tucked in the accessory that he had just been gifted, inside his pants, and moved around the house with absolute disdain. A bit of discomfort whenever he sat down did not deter him from his determination to hold on to the safely guarded secret.
Dennis was waiting for his parents to go out of the house as they had to attend a wedding and considering the pranks that he was notorious for playing at public gatherings, he was an unwelcome guest at such places. When his mother had mentioned to him the previous evening that he would need to stay put at home alone while they were away, he was a bit dejected. But today morning, he was elated and was waiting for that hour of glory for him all alone for himself.
“Hey Dennis, we are off for the wedding and would be back by evening”, his mother yelled from the drawing room. Generally a yell back in consonance would have been the answer but what Dennis didn’t realise that with the tail on him, he would now start expressing his feelings more emotionally.
The moment Dennis heard his mother, he ran out of his room uncontrollably. As he stood in front of her, his tail started wagging hysterically as if to express his excitement and happiness, involuntarily. He could no longer hide his inner feelings with ease.
With bewilderment, his Mom turned him around and so the protrusion in his pants. “What the heck is that inside your pants”, she screamed as she pulled his pants down to see that fluffy little thing attached to his bottom.
The tail just lifted up by this intrusion, as if Dennis was felling challenged, a natural defence for animals, he realised.
His privacy had been totally invaded because he could no longer hide his feelings, leaving his thoughts totally exposed, seen and known to everyone else.
Dennis could not go out of his house anymore. He could neither sit for long nor lie down on his back. What was frustrating him more than anything else was that his tail would start wagging agitatedly, every time flies hover around, just to brush them off.
A few concerned relatives and friends started dropping by to offer their condolences. Dennis felt that he could sense the tinge of ridicule in their eyes than a consolation. More than being worried and fretful, they all were anxious and apprehensive, Dennis realised.
A distant uncle even remarked that now Dennis would be able to keep himself busy decorating his added accessory. Tail-bands, ribbons or even piercing, the unwelcome guest had quipped trying to sound witty.
Dennis wished he could use his tail to wipe off everyone and everything that was annoying him, out of his way, but sadly that’s something it could not do. And every time he used to feel disappointed, depressed or sad thinking about it, his tail would fall between his legs.
“Wake up and come down for your breakfast”, he could faintly hear a murmur as he just managed to open his eyes. Dennis tried to look between his half closed eye-lids and he could faintly see the image of his mother standing beside his bed staring straight at him.
Dennis woke up startled, and put his hand below his back to feel the fluffy tail. The tail wasn’t there anymore. He jumped up on the bed and started looking around if it had fallen off somewhere.
“What are you searching”, his mother queried. “It will be noon and you haven’t woken up yet. Come down fast, Dad is waiting for you”, she continued as she turned and walked out of the room. Dennis pulled down his pants as soon as his Mom was out of sight and started feeling for his tail.
Dennis ran towards the mirror and looked everywhere. The tail wasn’t really there. Pulling back his pants up, Dennis looked at the wall clock at the far end of the room. The clock struck twelve as Dennis stared at the day and date on the clock. The clock displayed the day as Sunday.
It was all a dream, and what a horrifying one it was, he thought to himself. As he turned towards the door, his eyes fell on the bed. Beneath the bed cover it was a bunch of hair, not a few strands, but a big cluster of thick fluffy hair. Petrified, Dennis ran out of his room.