it was a just another sunday morning. completing my cup of tea, i had switched on the TV when Abhijeet, my elder brother, came with a good news. or was it a bad news – as time revealed.
a she-cat chose an isolated corner of our roof to give birth to her children. i rushed after him to the spot 5 cuddly kittens, one upon the other. since the mother was missing, we could safely watch them from a distance; animals don’t claim babies touched by humans. also, having had many bitter experiences at pets in the past, i didn’t want to have a pet now, especially when there were just two office going people at home.
so except for some oohs-aahs at the kittens, there was not much of a reaction. came down to surf more channels on the TV and prepare for a hectic sunday ahead.
half an hour later someone knocked at the door. knowing that i don’t open doors to strangers, the neighbour’s wife called up. on opening the door, i came across these boys who had a kitten in hand. just when i was going to lecture them on not touching the animal, that the neighbour’s wife spoke.
“looks like some crows were snatching it from the mother kitten when it fell from height”
“so what do i do”, i was about to ask, but was taken aback by this baby cat who was badly bruised by falling from a height. and before i could have said a thing, the boys had left it at my doorstep.
unwillingly i took it upstairs, thinking to place it with its siblings. bad luck though, the mother cat was missing with her entourage. no probs – may be she would return after sometime to search for the missing one.
abhijeet warned me against getting closer to the kitten. even ma warned me for developing affection for the cat. “at so young an age, it will need its mother”, she said. “i have grown up ma”, i said assuring her.
didn’t know though that animals have little love in their hearts. for that entire day, the kitten was there in the open, but the mother cat didn’t return. as the sun moved down the horizon and the temperatures dipped, i couldn’t be as heartless as the mother. i brought the kitten down and placed it in a basket with some warm clothes, allowing for some breathing space.
when the maid came at night, she was particularly amused to watch the kitten and named it Pussy (a name very common for cats in this part of the world). assigning her lesser duties of the kitchen, i requested her to first feed the baby. It was hungry from morning onwards. looked as if aunty was particularly adept at the task. she was successful at feeding it more than a cup of milk with spoon, ruining her saree in the meanwhile. Pussy tried to fend off any attempts to be fed just as human kids and looked sweet in the process. full as it was in stomach, it was put to rest.
that day onwards, aunty was designated the duty for the next six days. pussy didn’t live more. she was just a day old when i spotted her and “kids that age require the warmth of their mother”, i learnt the hard way.
pussy was fed two times – morning and evening. working bachelors, as we were, this was all we could do for her. i kept pussy in the open when leaving for office in the morning. abhijit used to bring it downstairs while leaving for office. may be the mother’s heart finds some pity for the ailing baby, i thought. the mother didn’t return though, not even to drink the milk kept in a bowl nearby.
on tuesday, pussy’s third day at home, abhijeet rang me at office. some crows had again tried to prey on pussy. this was enough to raise my tempers. “god knows, how long you need to sleep. had you not overslept, this wouldn’t have happened”. then realising that it was not all his fault, i asked “is she wounded a lot?”. “no, no. i reached just on time”, he said. “okay, then bring it downstairs”.
fron next day onwards i gave up on the return of the mother. Pussy was my responsibility now. i ordered the maid to see that the kitten is properly fed.
on the morning of Thursday, aunty announced that she had to forcefully feed pussy. also her body looks a little cold. “may be that’s because she wetted her bed at night”, i said. she agreed, but appeared concerned.
after aunty left, i touched pussy. it really was cold. when mother called, i updated her on the latest on pussy. “looks like things are not going well with it”, she said. “no no, it’s just because of a wet bed. will ensure that there is a plastic covering from today onwards”, i defended, but the concern for pussy was infectious. decided to take a leave that day and go see a vet. also would spend time with pussy, i thought. may be she would be feeling lonely. had googled recently an article that pets become less active because of loneliness.
there was not a good vet nearby. also none of them was ready to guide on phone. google too didn’t give any helpful search result. failure at all efforts, i finally tried the love therapy. putting it on my lap, i surfed some channels on the TV. at noon, i tried my hand at feeding pussy. on its first day at home, i was not very successful at this attempt. this time too the attempt was no better.
even aunty was not very successful at feeding pussy at night. she said that pussy’s health is deteriorating. before leaving for home, she tried to pacify me. “for some people, god has earmarked only a small time on the earth”.
“aunty, you are just sounding a bit over-concerned. by tomorrow she would be fit and fine”
when i got up in the morning to open doors for aunty, pussy appeared more hale and hearty than yesterday. I prayed to God that she stay better until sunday. it was friday and on sunday i would surely take pussy to a vet, howsoever far it is.
“arre, how come. only yesterday, it appeared as if it is about to die”, aunty said
“may be god has heard my prayers”, i said.
feeding it properly and keeping it to rest, aunty went off with her chores in the kitchen. even i was reassured that pussy is going to live with us for long. in a month or two, mother too would be joining us. until then we can get an opening made on the door so that pussy can easily move in and out of home.
that day i left for office assured. at office i could concentrate at work, some also pending from last day. before abhijeet left for office, he updated me that pussy was sleeping calmly. i talked about her at office for the first time. the girls were particularly amused and asked for pics of her. i promised to bring some the next day.
that evening, i was a little late in returning from office, thanks to the buses. there was no electricity when i reached home. using the dim light of my mobile, i tried to locate pussy in the basket. except for some bare movements, i couldn’t see much of her. fearing that pussy might suffocate herself in the clothes kept to keep her warm, i immediately ran for a candle. when i came back with a candle, she looked short of breath. also her eyes looked stoned. her body appeared very cold. and before i could have reacted, pussy left for the other world, as if she was just waiting for me.
i was heart broken. there was no reaction though. aunty was late that night. she was about to apologise about being late when she spotted me in that desolated look. she immediately figured out what had happened. the moment she tried to pacify me that i broke. i regained composure soon feeling what she would feel about a 27 year old crying.
she hinted that we bury pussy nearby. aunty decided to accompany me to the grounds. with an iron rod, we dug a hole in the muddy grounds, deep enough to hold pussy inside. a warm layer of clothes was put before placing pussy softly into the hole. while throwing bits of sand onto pussy’s grave, my heart suddenly cursed god. she wasn’t meant to live for just six days.
i wasn’t feeling hungry. i directed aunty to leave for her room. with a heavy heart i lay on the bed when abhijit rang. it kept ringing until i was woken from the deep thought. i broke again. this time without any hesitations. i cried my heart out.