Rajee, the maidservant informed Suhasini that Mrs. Bhargavi had come to meet her. Suhasini sprang onto her feet and rushed to greet her. Bhargavi, though living in the next apartment, was not a person who came regularly to their place. She and her family members were held in high esteem and were popularly known as ‘Deshbhakt’. They had lost their only son, Vijay in a terrorist attack. In their colony, it was an unwritten rule and a habitual custom that in all celebrations of national events like lndependence Day, Republic Day, Martyr’s Day, Freedom Fighters’ Day, Sena Diwas etc., they remained the guest of honour. So, naturally, with due respects and regards, Suhasini went to meet and greet her.
Bhargavi, without any pretensions or beating the bush, straight away came to her point. She came to know from somebody that a cat was available for sale in this house and she wanted to have one. Suhasini laughed aloud. She was not selling any cat—only that, she wanted to get rid of the one which she considered to be a great nuisance. Suhasini had least hesitation in giving it away to Bhargavi. Good riddance!
Just out of curiosity, she asked, “How come you have a passion for this four legged ‘Monster’?”
Bhargavi replied, “Yes, I wanted to gift this cat to my grandson, Soorya, for grooming it as a pet. By the way, please do not call these small creatures as ‘Monster’. Animals are far better than human beings in the sense that they do not hoard anything for tomorrow. Unlike men, they are not greedy, they always limit their desires to their needs.”
Suhasini had to intervene— “You may be right, Madam. But I have my own bitter experiences – particularly with these Pussy cats. While almost all the animals and birds have been accepted as ‘Vaahan’ by some God or Goddesses, not a single God has ever accepted a cat, as His Vaahan. Only the ‘Big Cat’ is adopted by Maa Vaishno Devi but not this purring devil. People say, ‘A cat has nine lives’, actually it is not so. In fact, I will put it like this — in its lifetime, every cat has to hurt, hunt or spoil nine lives and that is why it has nine lives. Have you noticed, all negative and only negative things are associated with the cat! The very word “catty” stands for ‘mean and spiteful nature’. Whenever a cat crosses our path, it is considered to be a very bad omen. The work with which we set out, will definitely be ruined. In motion pictures also, you might have observed that a female villain character with deceitful intentions, or cunning schemes, will be shown, coolly fondling or caressing a furry cat. Cats are known for having what they want; when that is not possible, they will ensure that none else can have it, by tampering it; either it will drink the milk or tilt the vessel.”
Suhasini continued, “Even I was large hearted and had a sympathetic attitude with stray dogs and cats– but not for long. If I tell you about the tragedies I encountered with these warring cats, even you will change your opinion. Anybody would wonder, was it a cat or Yamakinkara as we call a Yamdoot.” She paused for a while, before she delved into the past to narrate the tragedies. For a fraction of a second, a thought occurred what catastrophes – the present cat, the latest one, would bring upon them, no idea- and that was one reason she wanted to get rid of it. She was reminded of the day when the present cat- rather the latest one landed in her house….
She opened her bleary eyes when the cat, all seven pounds of squirming flesh, climbed onto her belly. Squinting into the sunlight streaming in from the open window, she discovered that she was now the weary possessor of a pounding headache, and at some point, had managed to lose both a tooth and a spouse.
“Yes, some years ago, when Sujata, my daughter was a small girl, wanted to go for a movie and her father had promised to come and take us. That turned out to be a fatal day. Instead of going to a movie theatre, he ended up in an operation theatre in a hospital and then to ICU ward. All because, while riding his scooter on his way home, a cat came running across and in trying to avoid the creature, he met with a terrible road accident. Whether the cat survived or not, my husband did not. We lost him forever.
That was the end of our happy time together. The tears in our eyes we can wipe away, but the ache in our hearts continue to stay. The death of sole bread winner had catapulted our lives altogether. You are well aware that misfortunes never come single. As though that was not enough, young Sujata had a terrible shock of life and she strongly believed that her desire to go for a movie was the sole cause of the tragedy.
For many long years, she refused to go for any cinema in any theatre—so much so she had to be given a psycho therapy to overcome that mental block. Life had to be carried on. So, I had to take up a job to sustain ourselves. That was said easily than done. Balancing domestic life and office work and grooming the young girl was a real tight rope walk– many times a great challenge. Somehow jostling between the two…. But that is what many women do even today! Being a single parent, it was even more tough for me. Added to these tensions, I had one more issue. I was not reckoned as a good worker at my office in spite of my best efforts and time management. It so happened that — a cat once again came into my life to play spoil sport and catapult life once again.
One day when I was very busy in the morning in the kitchen, suddenly a cat came from somewhere into the kitchen. I was caught unaware. I tried to drive it away and it would not budge. When my efforts failed, in a perplexed moment, I threw a heavy stick on it. It fell on the cat and its reaction was also nothing less defensive. All of a sudden, it bounced on me. I swayed a bit, to avoid the attack, but I lost balance and hit myself badly. In the end, the cat ran away unhurt, but me… left with a drooping jaw, blood oozing out from mouth and a broken tooth. Obviously, forget the kitchen, forget the school, forget the office, rush to the dentist. That was what I did. Is there any dentist who cures you in a single sitting? In my case also, it was a series of sittings… what with x-rays, dentures, bridge / gap fillings …. it went on for weeks.
How can I take the treatment without cutting my office time or availing leave? My frequent absence was viewed seriously. All my explanations fell on deaf ears. I preferred to quit rather than suffer humiliation. That was the end of my carrier. That was what was in my lot. A well paying job abruptly coming to an end, all because of a cat. Won’t people laugh at me if I say that a cat has ended my carrier? But truly it was so. Of course, it was an entirely different story that after quitting the office job, I took some private tuitions and ran a few coaching classes for some years. Nowadays, with online tuitions, it is even better. I maintain myself more comfortably now.”
“Bhargavi madam, now you tell me, having crossed all these mountainous struggles, how can I tolerate, of all things, a pet cat in my house? I am deadly against it. I am in fact afraid, it may bring some misfortune on my daughter also. Having eaten up my husband, later ruined my carrier, who knows, now it may harm her future. So, my humble advice to you madam, think twice, before you take this devil and offer it to your grandson.”
Bhargavi, said gently, but firmly, “Yes I am still passionate about pet animals and I want Soorya also to develop such love for fellow creatures. You have valid reasons for saying ‘No to cats’. I have my heartfelt sympathies for you. You have been bold enough, to conquer your troubles and come out successfully. You are a ‘Brave Woman’ indeed! But, in my opinion, the tragedies you had undergone, were all destiny driven. The Divine Destiny had designed them and the poor cat was a mere executioner– as you said it rightly, Yamadoot. How can you blame a Yamadoot when Yama was the supreme in charge of Destiny. In those days, Helmets were not mandatory and I am sure your husband did not have one, to secure himself.
Even if he had used a helmet as a shield and miraculously survived, he would have met his fate in some other form. We are totally unaware of God’s intentions. Take for example, my son, Vijay. He had nothing to shield himself against the terrorists, except his strong will power. We lost him forever. Whom can I blame? Accept it as our lot. Again, you hold the cat responsible for ruing your career. You lost the job. No doubt, it was a loss. But later, it changed your course of life. But this time, for better. Don’t you agree with me that had it not been for the cat, will you be in this new profession and that too shining well in this line? Just now, you said you are comfortable and doing well. God’s intentions are unique and we never know till it happens. He had used a cat as a conduit for bringing a change in your life. He was guiding you rather leading you to prosperity.”
Bhargavi stopped for a while, as though allowing Suhasini to understand things in a different perspective. In fact, Bhargavi wanted to tell the truth why she was particular about Soorya to have one more living being for showering his love and affection at this point of time. Bhargavi and her husband were planning to get their only daughter in law married to Vijay’s close friend Naren, known to them from his college days. At the same time, the grandparents wanted to ensure emotional security of Soorya, till he accepted Naren. A pet dog or cat would keep him engaged till he got adjusted to the new turn of life. On hearing this, Suhasini was stunned and dumbfounded. Indrani, widow of Vijay also commanded a lot of respect from all around her.
But that was enough for woman in her early thirties to lead the rest of her life. It was indeed a great gesture from her parents in law to think of her future, take a bold step and act wisely. At the same time, they wanted to ensure Soorya’s emotional integrity by introducing to world of pet animals. Suhasini felt like falling at her feet for her high morale and seek blessings. ‘Rarely we come across such great souls’ she thought. No wonder, such high virtues and morale place them in highclass society and regard them with respect and reverence. Suhasini, by now had a change of mind about pet animals – a cat or a dog; kitten or puppies. The animals were not by themselves any pounding headache. It was all our attitude towards them that mattered.
“Mew, mew” a cat’s shrill note was heard, when Suhasini came back to her senses. She collected all the seven pounds of squirming flesh, fondly into her hands and gently handed it over to Mrs Bhargavi. She happily parted with the so called ‘pounding headache’ and gave it with “Best wishes and fond memories”.
When Bhargavi was about to leave, Sujata came in. and with her a small basket containing a few furry young ones, which she called “Lovely Loveleens”. Suhasini was once again taken aback. Sometime back, she wanted to get rid of one nuisance—a pounding headache. But look at the irony, she now had to face, not one or two but four-four kittens, all catty stuffs. In these modern days all discount sales, all advertisements carry a message- BUY ONE TAKE TWO. For Suhasini, her luck is such— any problem, she solved one, got two or even more.
Bhargavi was all smiles and asked “are these also for sale?”.
Suhasini, instantly replied, “No not for sale madam. These kittens are no more a problem to me. Who knows, they may be here to help us turn a new leaf in our lives. Let us try our luck.”
Approving her statement, all the four kittens peeping out from the basket, mewed simultaneously. Sujata exclaimed, ‘a thing of beauty, joy forever.’ If Sujata was happy what more did her mother want?