• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 08

Ahmed and Sons Pet Shop

The snake in the birdcage fits neatly
into the aesthetic of the establishment.
Ahmed and Sons Pet Shop, at a street corner
somewhere in Coles Road, is
a family owned business where home is
a flap and a flutter. The cats and dogs spill out
of boxes, and each Ahmed names them lovingly
before tying a green ribbon around their necks.
There is a newspaper cutting on the left wall
with a picture of Ahmed the first in 2002.
It speaks of a fire, and all the Ahmeds, including
Ahmed the third, a girl of only twelve, scrambling to
pick up boxes of colorful chicken,
unspooling the shuddering snake coiled
like a leaf around the warming rails of the birdcage,
and pulling Tasmiya, the cat, away from a burning bird.
Sheru, the terrier always found himself lodged between
small spaces, and it took two Ahmeds to dislodge him.
The newspaper cutout in gold-gilded frame sits at the
center of a large wall in defiant straightness.
In December 2019, a team of ten men with
faces of God-like shine, and saffron stoles around their necks
shake Ahmed the first's bony hands with love. They run
their fingers around the green neck-ribbons of the animals and share a joyful laugh and Ahmed the second's minty lemon sherbet.
When they set fire to the birdcage, the snake is obedient.
All the men bow deeply to all the Ahmeds before stepping out into the cobbled street.
The newspaper cutting folds in like a wiry piece of blanket
and in its humble shadow Tasmiya the cat reaches for the birds.