Roseee, a stray cat that she is, likes to go for long walks all on her own; she doesn’t hang about our place for long. But one day Roseee stays at our place, eat nothing, and sleeps. If it had only been her marathon sleeping session, we wouldn’t have been worried. But she coughs a real couch, not once, not twice, but three times.
Zainab tells me: “Roseee caught it from you.”
Yes, I was down with a protracted flu &fever, so bad that it made my jaws ache as if they were being hammered upon. I think about Roseee’s jaws and announce: “I will have to find a vet for her.”
|Inappropriate medium for transporting cats|
There are screams of excitement and they all want to go with me. This uncalled for enthusiastic response to Roseee’s illness feels ominous and I start dreading the trip. “I didn’t say picnic, I said vet.”
There’s a chorus. “You can’t go without us.”
I am good at recognizing commands that just can’t be defied. So we pick Roseee’s basket, it is also her makeshift bed, and set out on the journey. Only the basket in question is NOT meant to hold cats but the realization will dawn on me much later.
We settle in the car, Zainab sits in the front seat with Roseee, Saif extends his hand from the back seat to help Zainab in calming down the cat. While I drive, Roseee takes offence and tries to jump outside. Saif Screams, Zainab shrieks and asks me to control Roseee. I try to keep my cool, concentrate on driving and tell zianab that I have two eyes and they should preferably be on the road, and it would be better if my hands held on to the steering instead of Roseee.
After a while, an object comes flying from the back seat and hangs upside down on the front seat. This is Omar. He too wants to hold Roseee.
Now I raise my voice and tell him to behave and threaten to drop him on the road if he doesn’t.
He moves back and makes a few statements that in effect pronounce me the meanest person in town.
I make a silent vow: I will never ever stuff the Lilliputians and Roseee together in anything that moves on the road, and has me at the steering.
|Roseee and her vet|
After what seems like twenty years we reach the market where we have been told there are vet clinics. Now everyone wants to hold the basket. So this is how we move around the market: six people moving in a circle, holding a basket with a harassed looking cat inside it. We are a spectacle.
I reiterate my vow.
As we reach the clinic, the cat starts jumping around and we all run in that small cubicle to catch her. The vet doesn’t seem too pleased to see us. However, Roseee is then put on a stretcher, he takes her temperature, injects her with some antibiotics.
Roseee looks at me, and for the second time in a day I am made to feel like the meanest person in town. Not good for my morale. Really.
And then it happens.
Saif nudges me: “The uncle behind us has a cat in a box.”
I turn around. Yes, the uncle in question has a beautiful Persian cat that has come to have his nails clipped.
|The handsome Persian dude|
We all start petting the cat who is fashionable enough to come for a manicure. As we are doing so, Roseee jumps and attacks the well-groomed feline dude. There is a commotion. The uncle is worried, the vet tells us to quickly control our ‘stray cat,’ and we try to leave.
The entire spectacle of six people holding a basket with a, now angry, cat is repeated.
“Roseee was jealous because we were petting the Persian cat,” on our way home, Roshan comes up with a likely reason for Roseee’s bad behavior.
Since Mobby always has an opinion on everything, the next possible reason comes from him. “The Persian cat was big, Roseee was scared of him and wanted to attack first while the doctor held him.”
“No, actually Roseee wasn’t trying to pounce on the Persian cat. She wanted to scratch the doctor for giving her the injection. He gave her two injections, it must have hurt her,” Omar has another take on the matter.
Zainab finds Roshan’s reason more plausible, and Saif seconds Omar, or perhaps Mobby. While the Lilliputians shout, voice opinions and fight over who is right, Roseee again tries to jump out, Zainab again shrieks, I try to somehow drive.
And I renew my vow for the third time.
We finally reach home safe and sound. We give some warm milk to Roseee, tuck her in her make shift bed, and tell her to rest. When after half an hour we check on her…..she is gone.
The Lilliputians are dejected. “After all that we did for her!” is the prevailing emotion.
I tell them that our love, our entreaties, our ministrations, our pampering cannot chain her. She is a free soul.
Roseee is generous in her acceptance of our love. She doesn’t take it as a loan that she has to pay back with or without interest. Nor does she ascribe motives and designs to our ministrations. She takes it nonchalantly like she receives the breeze that caresses her, or the sunshine that makes the terrace such a cozy place for her.
In response to our love she does what she is good at doing: she basks in it, and she purrs.