Hero, a year and little old
Cats and I go back a long way. It all started with a bowl of milk for a wandering grey tabby cat in a sultry summer afternoon. This was how we found Jhumri, the veteran girl of our cat family. The consequent generations had funny names too (courtesy me), irrespective of gender - Elli, Biti and Hero. My father was never fond of the brood and much to his chagrin there was always an addition or two every year. With time he became tolerant although he would remain aloof as ever. While my mother would be attentive to their whimperings, my love for them was overwhelming. I would sacrifice my share of fish for the greedy Elli who was the dearest of the lot and would swing and rock Biti's newborns no matter how ridiculous a spectacle it was. I was scratched on countless occasions as a means of retaliation for the suffocative, smothering love. Once I tried to chase off a poor garden lizard who was being stalked by Hero only to end up with a badly sprained leg. This time when I visited my parents, there was a looming emptiness. For the first time in ten years it was a cat-less home. There was no furry bundle cozied up under the blankets or sniffing flowers in the garden or trying desperately to catch its owl tail in circles in the most comic manner. Their absence felt louder and more annoying than the ruckus of meows on the fried fish days.
The other day as we were watching our neighbour's Persian cat, Sam casually remarked, "You must be this only crazy cat lover who doesn't own a cat". Not many would understand how crushing it felt at that moment. I always lament our nomadic lifestyle and how I can never have a cat until we have a permanent home of our own. Or I might just end up as one of those batty old English women sitting by the fireplace reading or embroidering, with a cat curled up in my lap. Sigh!