|This is how Emma was brought to the back terrace|
“You haven’t written anything about Emma,” Zainab complains and the others join to voice this massive omission on my part.
“Stray cats give you a heartbreak when they die. Remember Roseee?”
“But at least we now remember everything about her. We have memories,” the Lilliputians pipe in.
“Please write about Emma’s story.”
|Emma with mama Rosee and sibling|
I think about it. Maybe they are right; if you love someone as elusive as a stray cat then you learn to live with it. You can’t hold on to stray cats, but then, you cant hold on to people either. But memories…yes.
I go out to our back terrace. There she sits, lapping up the cat food that I had left in her plate. Emma has lost weight. She is a big cat now, and she is a mother cat. I remember the day she was born…
It is a story of cats. It is a story of two generations. It is a story that happens on the back terrace that has become home to two and now three generations of cats.
|'seems like food' grown-up Emma spots a mouse|
Emma was among the four kittens in Roseee’s second litter. Most probably, she was born on March 29’2014 because this is when Roseee had vanished for an entire day.
We saw Emma when Roseee brought her kitties to our place, all four of them. They were endearing, the kittens. But Emma was the one that stole our heart away. Zainab was then reading Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and decided to name our favorite kitty after Austen’s spirited heroine.
The kitties were still sucklings when Roseee died. While we were able to find homes for the other three, we couldn’t give up Emma for adoption. It was selfish of us, I know. We knew Emma could never be a house cat at our place because many people (adults) in the land of Lilliputians are allergic to cats.
But we needed Roseee’s daughter in our lives. We wanted someone to keep Roseee’s memory alive
Emma was a playful kitten, but she grew up to be a loner. Unlike her mother, she doesn’t much like being cuddled. And she never developed a taste for the qwwalis of Nusrat Fatheh Ali.
I remember the day when she had her first encounter with a mouse. It was in the basement.
It was an hour-long chase that left the onlookers wondering who was chasing whom. When Emma pounced upon the mouse, it jumped. And when it jumped, Emma retreated. After half an hour, the mouse decided to call it a day and sat immobile daring Emma to catch it. And what did Emma do?
No, she didn’t grab it. She just sat there and tried to solve cosmic mysteries. In the end, the mouse gave up and crawled inside its hole. Since that day, Omar has dubbed Emma as ‘a loser cat.’
But Emma is not the preying sort. She has a bit of Roseee’s Sufi soul in her.
She has also inherited from Roseee her love of nightly ramblings
on the rooftop.
“Emma, let’s go for a walk,” I say to her every night.
|Now a mother of two|
And she jumps up the stairs, three steps at a time. On the rooftop, she mostly just sits there and thinks her own catly thoughts while I walk and think some human and some not-so-human thoughts. It’s quite an un-intrusive companionship. The way I like it, and also perhaps the way she likes it.
During our hour-long silent musings, there also comes a moment when she tries to stand on her hind legs. For me, it is a kind of signal. I go near her, she puts her paws on me and I pat her, talk to her, and tell her about the things that I tell only to her.
And like Roseee, she is a stray cat. Will remain one.
A month ago, she vanished for many days. She came back very sick and very pregnant.
She is better now though still weak. Her kitties are feeble. But she is here, and the story goes on. Our back terrace witnesses all.