Sunday Lifestyle

To the bat cave

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star
To the bat cave
How a bat might enter a 27th-floor condo

One afternoon about a week ago I was trying to get my husband to watch TV with me. He hates TV now but I still enjoy it. I came across a program of young European guys who explored abandoned villas in Europe. What scared them most were the bats they would sometimes find hanging upside-down from the ceiling. They would flash lights at them, hear them shriek, and sometimes the bats would fly at them.

How time flies like a bat in the night, I thought. In total darkness only a bat sees.

I live in a condo on the 27th floor. Our condo has a minuscule porch that I have covered with plants. Every morning when I wake up I open the door, stick in doorstoppers to keep it open all day so it lets the fresh air in. I close it every night. Actually I would love to keep it open but my husband would get paranoid.

“Who knows?” he says. “A thief or a murderer may come in and kill us.”

Yeah, right, I used to think. It would be so easy to climb up to the 27th floor! He would probably prefer to kill people who were easier to reach. But I just kept quiet and gave in. I would always close the door before I went to sleep.

Every morning the first thing I do is water my plants. Then I take a bath. One morning when I entered the bathroom after watering the plants I saw what looked like a dark-brown rag right behind the shower stall’s glass door. I looked at it and couldn’t figure out if it was a rag or maybe even a rat. Was it dead or alive? It was sprawled motionless on the floor. Whatever it was, it scared me.

I went outside and asked my husband’s caregiver to please have a look and to throw it out. I even gave him a pair of disposable plastic gloves so he wouldn’t squirm in case it was a dead rat. But rats are gray, not brown. The caregiver put on the gloves, went into the bathroom while I stayed with my husband, and came out looking pale. “It’s a baby bat,” he announced, “and it’s alive. I touched it and it moved. I’m afraid to do anything.”

I understood. I was scared, too. What could I do? The bat must have flown in in the total darkness of night, strayed into the bathroom, flown over the shower doors, then tried to get out and hit the glass door so it got knocked out. Then I must have entered the bathroom and turned on the lights so he couldn’t see. That turned him motionless. Before I left the bathroom I turned on the nightlight, which must have paralyzed him more. But wasn’t I just watching bats in empty villas yesterday on TV? Why is there a sprawled baby bat in my bathroom? Is this God showing me his sense of macabre humor?

As destiny would have it, all the units here have intercoms connected to the front desk. They all work well except for seven units that can only receive calls but cannot call to summon help. Our intercom is one of the seven. So I got dressed and ran down to the front desk to ask them to please send someone upstairs to get rid of the baby bat that I had found in our bathroom.

“A baby bat?” the guard on duty asked incredulously.

“Yes,” I said. “A baby bat and it’s alive. Please send someone to bring it out. I think they can pick it up with one of my kitchen tongs that I’m willing to throw away afterwards. Bring it out to the porch and throw it over the rails. That way it can fly away. I don’t want to kill a baby bat.”

I forgot that it was morning; the sun was brightly shining. The bat would be blinded and frozen. One of the janitors saw the guards nervous and volunteered to come up. He calmly went to the bathroom with his dustpan in one hand and the kitchen tongs in the other. He picked up the bat with the tongs, put it on his dustpan, gave the tongs to the caregiver who threw them away, walked to the elevator and brought the poor frozen baby bat down to the ground floor, where he spilled the body on the ground of the lot next door.

Where was I? Hiding in a friend’s apartment. Too scared to witness the bat’s disposal. But I’m all right now. Don’t worry. Every dusk, I close the porch door before it turns dark to protect our home from baby bats’ eyes. Every time I need to go to the bathroom I don’t think I’m going to the CR (comfort room). I know I’m going to the bat cave.

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