Well, the debate in the British Parliament, regarding the mice menace and the importance/necessity of having cats around, has had positive repercussions in my parental house in the sleepy state of Odisha, Eastern India. Specifically, reports have reached me that my Ma is showing ‘overt’ liking for the teeming cat population in our house as contrasted with her earlier ‘covert’ fondness.
Let me introduce our cats. We don’t have any pedigree cats.You know like the Perisan, Siamese etc etc. Our cats are the ‘common’ ones which are to be found all over homes, towns ,cities in India. If they are of a particular breed, I have to confess ignorance on the matter. They are of various shapes, sizes, coat lengths, colors and temperaments. The one common feature is that they are all beautiful and special in their own way.
I really can’t tell you ,also, the number of cats we have 🙂 Alright, this needs a detailed explanation.
1. The Inside Cats: These are the ones who stay inside the house and we have 5 of them. Mister, Jerry,Tommy, Billy Bolly and Meow. They get along very well with our dogs and there is harmonious and most of the time peaceful co-existence. However,Mister, golden -orange and with a mane rivaling Robert Plant’s is the Boss of the house,lording it over my Dad too.
2. Friends of Inside Cats: Our five cats have beautiful manners and have been brought up with all the right and required social skills. Naturally, thus, they have a vast array of friends who again naturally have to visit our house.
3. Sufi Cats: These are not permanent cats at our home. But are the wanderers, travelers and seekers. They come with their tales of faraway neighborhoods and colonies. They stay for a short time and move on in their search for eternal truth,better fish etc
4. Poor Cats : The abandoned ones.Who are left on our doorstep by the entire neighborhood and who either are found new homes or are elevated to the vague status of ‘outside’ cats and loiter around aimlessly,peacefully.
5. CNG: Or ‘Cats Non Grata’ i.e. unwelcome tom cats, who do not believe in Gandhi ji’s principles of ‘ahimsa’/non-violence.
Whatever may be their categorization, with the exception of the inside cats, all are fed twice a day. Meals consist of bread and milk in the morning and fish biryani , late in the evening. My sister and me are deeply thankful to the local fishmonger, Trilochan, who supplies us not only with fish remains, but invariably fish also, at no cost!On his way home, he drops off a sack of fishy stuff for the cats.Our repeated attempts to give him money were/are met with a smile, shake of the head and ‘ I do not have a daughter, didi. So I have adopted my Shahib’s ( my Dad) daughters’. Which makes me realize that there are many such relationships that society has no name for/does not recognize…but they are those which are more true and deep.
The inside cats have formed the CB/CID i.e ‘Cat Bureau’/’Cat Intelligence Department’. Their target is our cook. A hapless victim , the poor man has to bear the brunt of my mother’s wrath at diminished quantities of milk and cream that result purely from operations of the CB/CID. But since the man enjoys robust health, my Ma is unable to shake off the suspicion, that he probably filches the milk. Many a times , I congratulate him, in my Ma’s presence, on his good health and red cheeks with ” You are looking good!Must drink milk to maintain your health” . The cats and me then grin evilly as Ma laser beams the guy 😀
Romantic and love -is-in-the-air months in cat-land can be a trifle un-nerving, though. My sister and me would run at the dead of the night, with buckets of water,screaming at the top of our voices to save our boys as they wooed their damsels, who were simultaneously being wooed by the CNG’s. Ours is a musically inclined family and so our cats believed in serenading the ladies too. Many styles and genres of meowing..sorry, singing, were employed. While Mister had the baritone of Ustaad Fayaz Khan Saheb, Tommy had the soulfulness of Hemant Kumar, Jerry had the powerful perfection of Ronnie James Dio etc. The combined , fusion effect was explosive and did nothing for my Ma’s blood pressure.
Threatened on a daily basis about our ‘unruly’, disobedient’, ‘noisy’ ,’greedy’ ‘thieving’ etc etc cats, we couldn’t convince our Ma that they provided excellent protection from mice etc My “These are our Mousers.By Valhalla, yeah, these are legendary hunters,Ma’ would be met with ‘You girls have turned my house into a mad house with your cats, dogs, squirrels , monkeys, rabbits blah-blah-blah”.She didn’t know then, and neither did I, that some years later a donkey baby would also be adopted by me and named Socrates 😀 But that’s a story for another time! Yee-haw.
Past connection with England as my maternal grandfather studied at Oxford, the apple- of- her eye grandson studying currently in London, and the rather alarming degree of her daughter -the accidental-sufi ‘s madness/devotion to Jimmy Page, make my Ma deeply interested in happenings in Britain. Somehow the call of MP Anne McIntosh for Parliament to take rescue cats from a nearby London shelter to deal with the mice problem,has struck a chord in her 🙂
Our cats, my sister and me now await an official budget sanction from Ma 🙂
Oh, by the way guys, I quite love this : “Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” ( Robert.A.Heinlein)
Meow! http://youtu.be/0k6mQyu2GxM 🙂