Billo was a striped grey cat, I found him as a kitten when I was in class II. I was returning home as usual after my play time and dusk was soon setting in. It was the monsoon season and dark clouds hovered in the sky, soon it started raining and I had to stand under the shade of a thatch. Right in front of me, I saw a small shrivelled little grey kitten, sitting on a puddle and meowing pitifully. Few barking mongrels were trying to get at it. I shoed those dogs away and lifted up the small thing in my arms, it was dripping with water. I dried it with my chunni and took it home.
On reaching home, first of all I dried Billoo well with a dry cloth; I gave it a basket with a warm rug. I brought some warm milk, but Billoo was not able to lap it as he had just learned to suck milk, so slowly with a piece of cotton I fed Billoo the entire milk in the dish and soon he fell asleep.
Billoo grew well. As a kitten he was very playful, his antics would often make everyone laugh. Billoo was very obedient and never dirtied around the house; he only attended to his nature calls in the back patch of the garden of the house. Not only Billo but all my pet cats were very obedient and tidy. I always ensured that Billoo got his meals timely and he would never touch any food on his own. But sometimes when his favourite fish was being cooked, he would meow in a very pleading manner and mother would give him some in his dish. Billoo liked mother’s cooked fish rather than raw.
Billoo was a very domestic cat, he liked to stay in the house and in the garden and would seldom go out of the house premises. He had no desire to make friendship with the wild cats who roamed around the house, he preferred being alone. But at the age of four Billoo received a very special gift from his destiny—his love—kalli.
Kalli was a spotted black half Siamese cat. My elder sister got it from an aunt’s house who used to keep Siamese cats as pets. When the aunt shifted her house Kalli’s mother was give to some furniture makers who lived below Aunt’s house and Kalli was born there. When my sister visited our Chacha’s house who was a neighbour of the aunt, she spotted this lovely spotted cat who would just keep following my sister. My sister wished to take it home and the furniture makers were only too glad to give it away as Kalli had few other siblings.
So Kalli was brought home in my sister’s carry bag. When Billoo first saw Kalli, it made that angry sound so typical of cats (phisshhh), may be it thought that its place was getting sabotaged. But Kalli was such a friendly cat that Billoo soon started liking her. They would play around in the garden together and sleep together in their basket. Billo, now a strong male cat, would enclose the dainty Kalli within his arms and although not human they looked like a romantic couple very much in love.
I vividly remember Kalli’s first batch of kittens, as one of the kitten’s was kept back by us and rest all of Kalli’s kitten were adopted by our animal loving neighbours when they were big enough. The first batch was of three kittens-one spotted yellow, one spotted black and white (like the mother) and the other jet black (Kelo). None of the adopters took Kelo , I think because of the superstition associated with black cats and so Kelo remained with us for almost ten years.
I never saw any of my pet cats pass away before me. Even when they were sick sometimes they would withdraw and stay alone by themselves in the garden. My mother told me not to disturb them as that way they get well soon. During these days, they would refuse food, even their favourite ones and only chew some grass or shrubs. I remember them getting well in a day or two and spring back to life in a most wondrous way. So maybe I think, when my cats got their last call, they retreated far into the woods beneath some hollow or cover, never to spring back again to life. I admire them very much for this manner of theirs.
Slowly Kalli and Billo started spending time mostly in the garden; only Kelo would come inside the house. After some time though Kelo was left with us alone as his parents did not come back one day. Kelo was three years at that time. As a kitten Kelo was a ball of darkness, his eyes gleamed as lights ,only when he yawned or opened his mouth we could see red and white amidst the black.
Kelo grew up soon to be a very strong, intelligent and curious cat and very, very playful. Often when my mother and brother would be racking their brains on a board game, Kelo would sit next to them in rapt attention, looking extremely funny. His head would move left then right like the Tennis watchers and suddenly he would pick up a piece in his mouth from the board and dart away. We really had to plead with Kelo to get back our piece!
There was no end to Kelo’s antics. He would walk on his two hind legs while holding a stick. While I would be studying he would sit very attentively on the large study table beneath the table lamp. He especially liked to sit beneath the lamp during winter evenings, and watch me writing and he would also lift up a pen or pencil in his mouth may be to write but find it totally beyond his capacity.
Kelo liked to eat fish and milk, he devoured pieces of hot chapattis with great relish and would turn his face away if they were cold, no matter how hungry he was.
As a cat Kelo was spectacular. He looked like a small black panther. Kelo kept himself very clean and was found to always washing himself with great care (cats wash themselves by licking themselves with their tounge). He would pull out all the tit bits from his paws and claws and make his black coat glisten. Nevertheless he also did not mind the water and soap bath I gave him during the hot summer days, I was very careful about the ears while washing Kelo with water and lever let a drop enter them. I think Kelo just quietly tolerated such baths for my sake and would be very thankful when the soft towel was put over him to be dried. Like his father Billoo, Kelo stayed alone and mostly in the house or garden, in fact the wild cats were quite afraid of Kelo and would maintain a distance from him.
There are so many things that I can write about Kelo that it can fill pages, so I will end this passage on Kelo by telling you all about one last remarkable thing that I can never forget and it always brings tears to my eyes. It so happened that when Kelo was around four or five years of age he disappeared for a few days. Daily when I would say my prayers I would ask God to send Kelo back to me. Without Kelo I felt very lonely and sad. I had almost lost hope.
One evening while I was walking on the lane at the back of our house, I heard a deep meow behind me and I at once knew that it could be only Kelo, I turned back with open arms and Kelo came running to me and sprang softly into my arms and ensconced himself there. It seemed that he was as happy as I with this reunion and from that day our bond became unbreakable. Kelo exuded love, he was born of love.