Sarala Prasad

here’s a story that i came across on a blog today. the best thing about the story is that it reminds me of the old story books that we used to study at school. the story goes thus:

Sarala Prasad

My cousin Anindya lived alone in a house with two lizards. He was quite fond of them, and fed them regularly. Over time, the lizards too started trusting him. They were often seen frolicking on his dining table, much to the annoyance of visitors. One of the lizards was fair and a touch overweight and the other, slim and dark. Anindya called them Rakhi and Rekha.

I didn’t have such exotic company when I lived alone in Visag in the mid nineteen eighties. But my loneliness was lessened when a stray kitten adopted me.

It was a lovely tawny kitten with stripes of a slightly darker brown. And the most impressive aspect of its appearance was a face that overflowed with innocence. My days started revolving around it. My office was not far off, I drove down quickly during the lunch break to see my pet. I had every reason to believe that it too used to wait for me eagerly.

There was such innocence and feminine tenderness about it that I decided it had to be a she. After this rather unscientific process of sex determination, I proceeded to christen her as Sarala, the innocent one, a name, as time would prove, that was as much a misnomer as some of the later-day Saral forms of the Income Tax Department.

The problem with kittens is that they invariably grow up into cats. As time passed, Sarala turned into a huge aggressive tom cat, making a mockery of his name. By then, my family had joined me and my daughter renamed him as Sarala Prasad. He started leaving the house for long stretches and was apparently quite at home in the big bad world outside. He would come home twice a day, only when he was hungry; and would declare his healthy appetite with incessant loud miaows. With time, his visits became irregular, and on occasions, he would return only after days.

It became evident that Sarala Prasad was a macho specimen of a cat. He would often walk in with scratches and bruises, but always made light of such discomforts. Once, he trudged in wearily, with a deep two-inch gash in his neck. That was one battle he had clearly lost and we thought it was time to write his obituary. But we were wrong: he’d lost only one of his proverbial nine lives. For two weeks, he didn’t venture out of our flat and my wife fed him and sprayed liberal doses of antiseptic powder on his gaping wound. After two weeks, he was fit as a fiddle and resumed normal business.

That year, we had a long weekend during Diwali. We decided to visit Jagdalpur to see the Chitrakoot falls. The journey through the pristine Eastern Ghats and fifty odd tunnels was fascinating. We discovered that the Chitrakoot water falls is in the shape of a horse-shoe, a breathtaking miniature version of its famed counterpart, the Niagara.

After three days, when we returned home and were about to unlock the main door, angry growls greeted us from within.

Unknown to us, Sarala Prasad was sleeping peacefully under a cot when we left. To complicate matters, we had secured all the windows because it had been raining heavily.

The house was in a mess! Sarala Prasad had shredded every bit of paper and cloth that was available, ripped open the sofas and scratched the windows and doors badly. And he had gone without food or water for three whole days.

Ten minutes later, after finishing a large bowl of milk, he demanded more. When the bowl was filled again, instead of drinking, he went out quickly. After some time, he returned with a female companion. And while the new cat lapped up the rest of the milk, Sarala Prasad watched her with loving eyes. I would never know what caused him more distress during the three days of incarceration: lack of food and water, or the separation from his girlfriend.

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