Monday, 10 March 2014

Feline frolic and myriad mews.

Long years ago ( with apologies to our erstwhile prime minister) I had a tryst with cats or was it the other way round? Cats have a way of making their trysts and thereby their dominance over the one who keeps them. They can never be owned for they are the owners of free spirits who look on amused at the way, I as an instance, jump to their every meow.

It was nineteen years since Billo Rani came into our lives. She was a dainty tortoiseshell who we (Mom Dad and  moi) alternately fed with great respect and a good deal of pleasure ... the last emotion was hers more often than not... and sometimes when there was chicken... the stealth routine to feed her downstairs was another story. She remained downstairs and Papa used to meet her on his morning walks in the compound. Slowly but surely she made her way up to our little abode. Well, to be very frank that is what we told Mom but she knew us well and our protestations that she had followed us upstairs of her own accord cut no ice with her. Billo Rani was still inhabiting the spaces below when she had her first litter and she was no more than a kitten herself. Happy with her productivity she pranced around our legs at mealtimes promising to show Mom her kittens when she thought it was the proper time. Alas! One day she sat in front of the elevator most dejected and forlorn. Mom asked her what had happened and she just looked at her with mournful eyes. The guard later told us that her kittens had been trapped in an empty flat in the building behind , she could not reach them and they had died. Mom Dad and I consoled her and after quite a while she started eating again. This was the first time I had actually seen an expression of emotion in an animal and although it was a sad sight it was remarkable. She entered her home (which used to be ours) to stay soon after. Her delight at seeing the maroon carpet laid down as if specially for her and her curiosity about the other rooms which she knew were hers was a delightful wonder to us. We had had cats earlier when I was a child but this intelligent torty was something else. She became pregnant soon after and the day the labor pains started ... OMG.. only Pops and I were home and she was yelling loudly in pain.I called the vet and was told to give her milk with glucose which she proceeded to lap up hungrily. Her contractions must have been more rapid for there was a lot of yowlin and meowling . Poor Papa put old newspapers on the sofa so and told her to be comfortable there, we of course knew not a thing about how to carry out midwife duty for cats. She was having none of his sympathetic arrangements and continued yelling. Mom came in around 8.30 pm from the temple and saw the commotion. She went to her and said. and I kid you not, " Billo , where do you want to have your babies. Don't worry everything will be fine." Billo Rani received a few gentle strokes on her head and stomach and THEN jumped behind the tv cabinet and went on to produce the three cutest little kittens... while Dad complained that after all he was doing for BR all SHE wanted was Mom's permission !And then the change from room to room.. rather funny really.... she took them one by one in her mouth and then came back to loudly meow again  to see if she had left any behind. Dad of course commented that she should have learned to count. I did not remind him that she was as bad as his daughter in the mathematics.

This very intelligent cat who understood word for word what Mom had to say, was the grandmother of my darling Patch(u) who I laid to rest yesterday afternoon. He was the last link I had to them in terms of the love we shared for all the felines who made their home with us. Coincidentally and very strangely he passed away on the eve of their anniversary which is today , perhaps their souls are united now and the three generations of kitties are all frolicking together with Mom and Dad.The circle of life and death is complete again and while I am heartbroken that Patch has gone I know he is relieved of his suffering and at peace.

To get back to the very intelligent Billo Rani and her even more intelligent progeny .. they were all smart , not street smart but human smart. It was amazing how they understood what was said to them. Kali of course was a wonder cat, I have written about her in another post, she decided to leave the homestead for greener pastures when her nieces and nephews entered the world, but she was knew which side the bread was buttered and she came two or three times a day for her meals. When the kitchen was being refurbished she would walk in every night and inspect the work done that day by the masons and later the carpenters, give her approval and then settle down to eat. It was a standing joke at home .. we would let her in every night to do her catscan. Her sister Bhuri who was Patchu's mother gave surrogacy rights to Mom for feeding her four kittens .. and what a sight it was ... with Bhuri outside and the bedroom door closed Mom sitting cross-legged on the carpet , with Patchu in her lap, Tidda on her shoulder and Tiddi and Spottu ( later renamed Bhure Lal by Dad) in front of her. The boiled fish was fed to each one by turn accompanied by a host of gratified num num numnumnums.Patchu was my mother's favorite .. there seemed to be an instant connect between them. Tidda , poor chap had a bit of an identity crisis when he was very tiny, we thought he was a girl cat and called him Chammak chhallo and believe you me he did walk and run like one. His name was changed the day we discovered who he was. Tidda's love for me was monumental .. his eyes poured with love and while Patchu was Mom's cat Tidda was my love. As a consequence of Mom's love for Patch, Tidda detested Mom for a while and being jealous Patchu and Tidds would get into fierce fights ... with fur flying everywhere. I took matters in hand one say and sat with them and explained to them how both were so dear to us. This coaching class lasted for about a week and voila they were inseparable after that , slept with their arms around each other ! Bhure Lal made Papa his favorite and as he was the youngest of the litter was much smaller than the muscular Patch and the rotund Tidda. He was also a bit of a coward, attacking them from behind and scampering to Dad for cover.

There are so many sweet memories of the three generations which made their home with us. Each time one has died I have cried buckets, they were like my children, with all their expressions and emotions their fun and frolic and the laughter and love they brought into our lives. I have had a questioning mew or two thrown at me at times, and Patchu, my darling who loved Amma so much actually mewed her name.. something like annnnwaaa. Amazing. He did the same a few times in the beginning of December last,when he fell ill. I knew then that the end was nearing ...

The new generation with me are a boisterous lot except for Dhanno who was rescued from the airport..she moves around with the import of a dowager duchess but when she becomes kittenish in her play it is delightful to watch, quite a mommy too, preening the little ones and scolding them for being naughty. Then there is BuffyToo (named after another Buffy in the isles) who is an intelligent AND street smart tortoiseshell and would not be wrong in thinking that she is a distant grrandcat or perhaps a great grandcat of Billo Rani, the harbinger of feline joyousness into my life.

All my darlings each and every one of them with their distinct personalities and incessant demands for attention. The diabolical dozens !! Meeewaaaah !!



1 comment:

austere said...

peace to Patchu... may his soul rest in peace.