By Doyel Neogi Chatterjee and Subham Chatterjee
It was a wintry late November night and we were hurrying home, reveling in the evening spent. After waving an unconvincing bye to my fiancé, I headed towards my flat to an unattended television set and my father, who was then suffering from Alzheimer’s, catching up with few phrases from the idiot box. Then I heard my fiancé calling out for me.
Ignoring my queries, he asked me to be quiet, which I did and he commenced his investigation at the rear wheels of a parked car. It was an awkward situation; the owner of the car was probably watching; instead of asking more questions I looked around for prying eyes. He went below the car, and I was concerned; almost all absurdity of his behavior I can never map or predict as he has a unique imagination. No sooner than I could frame a sentence of enquiry at that moment, I heard it, a short sharp squeal which came from inside the car. I shooed away the curious people around and started helping him. It was a cat, stuck in a tricky place inside the engine shelf. The more my fiancé, tried the more it pushed itself out of reach. Then I gave it a try, perhaps my slender wrists helped. I caught a bit of its fur, and it wasn’t bigger than my palm. More often than not, cats look to a temporary shelter, dodging bigger dogs and staying clear of other dangers; the relationship between a warm car engine and a cat seems to be incongruous love story, often ending on a sad note.
With little help from the dirt and grease on my sleeves, I could at last win the trust of this kitten, and pulled it out of its perilous locus. A blur of white, grey and black ran lunged at my fiancé and settled over his shoulder. From that moment, I was in an unconditional, undying, loving relationship.
We brought the little guy in and our research started. The internet was my best ally that night: the kitten was a bit hypothermic and had few minor infections. My fiancé, ignoring the clock went out to get food, kitten-weaning milk and a litter box. Sweeping off the technical preparations in contrast to my fiancé who has had a lot of experience with animals, I observed the kitten on my bed. He had funnily long whiskers and curious blue eyes, which didn’t stop scanning the room. His small legs were covered in the folds of the bedsheet. Moments passed. I tried to walk my fingers towards him to stimulate a response; after few setbacks, he darted forward, caught my fingers and started chewing on them. With growing confidence I ran my fingers down his spine and he repaid me with a knock of his forehead on my palms resonating the love with a never ending purr. Going forward a few months I remember tucking him into bed, and waking up to find him asleep over my neck, inside my bag, on my dad’s lap, or on my laptop. Sometimes, he’d groom my shampooed hair. We named him ‘Kittu’.
Later that year my fiancé got us Maine Coon kittens, in addition to our Indian tabby. From Kittu, we had Pebble, Fiona, Minz and Kittu, and thus started our family of these four-legged wonders. We rescued few other cats and kittens, and we ended up having twenty-two cats in all. With time Pebble came up as the cat we would love as our own child, but that tale can wait for a different day perhaps.
As Kittu grew up, he began to frequent the outdoors more often. He loved his sense of freedom and his honest opinions of humans. Once such night, he didn’t come back. That’s the last time I saw him, three years ago, a face that reflected love, true emotions, a bond, with a contradicting collar in his neck and the sound of a tame bell hanging from it. I believe a cat can never be tamed or trained; it has an unparalleled sense of personality. I miss his demands for food, his talks with my family members, his play-fighting with my fiancé, among so many of my innumerous moments of magic with him. Truth be told, Pebble went on to over-achieve in every aspect, but Kittu was the one who made way by stringing together a family beautifully, with his un-seconded contribution changing our lives. Albert Pike said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” For us, it starts with our cats; I would miss my dad, I would miss Kittu.
Few days ago, my husband found a litter of three cats playing near our old rented flat, and all looked identical to our Kittu, so it’s a satisfying cognition for me that’s he is still out there, living his freedom and educating cats to not sleep inside cars.
Based on true events.
Doyel Neogi Chatterjeee teaches Psychology at St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous), Bangalore. Subham Chatterjee is an IT cloud consultant based in the city.