I had a kitten once. Tabby. She was a tabby cat and hence the name (I know, how unoriginal). This is how we found her – mewing for what must have been half an hour before we finally opened the door, because we thought it must be one of the many, many stray cats bouncing off walls in our neighbourhood. My brother alerted us to her incessant mewling. And when we opened the door, we saw the most pitiful yet the most adorable ball of fur in the world. She mewed again when we saw her. My father hurriedly opened the screen door and before he had the chance to pick her up, she had already bounded off inside and made herself at home on our couch. We knew then and there – she belonged here with us. But we still begged my mother, because she wasn’t too sold on cats, having lived in a huge farm with all sorts of animals around; she knew how some of them could be a huge responsibility. My father was already a fan of the kitten, who had proceeded to jab playfully at the thread hanging from a wall hanging, while we begged my mother. Eventually she relented. And Tabby had a home… and a name.
She was the best pet we ever had. She was crafty, frisky, cute and manipulative too. Yes, she knew who to approach for what. She’d toy with my mother’s dupatta in the kitchen because she knew that’s where food would come from. She would paw my father for a rough tumble and a rub. She would meow at me if she wanted some loving and petting, and the best… she would cry to my brother to go out and do her business! Yep, she knew we were her slaves. Even our cousin who sometimes stayed over at our place was bowled over by her. We were all under 13 back then, or maybe I was already a teen, I don’t remember, but when we played with Tabby, our cumulative ages would amount to 10… we were just…so…happy!
I still remember one incident about her. She was a tiny, tiny kitten, even by kitten standards. She was the size of my palm even at 2 months, and my hands are very, very small. Yet one day, when she saw a pigeon on the window, she adjusted her wee furry bottom for a nanosecond and then launched herself in the air…she literally flew to the window! I wished I had recorded it to show you what I mean, because she literally jumped 8 feet up the couch and onto the window. It was quit radical, how a tiny thing the weight of a loaf of bread whizzed through the air at a bird bigger and stronger than her, though this is where her radical flight was cut short because she thwacked her cute, furry little muzzle right on the glass. It was quite comical and yet unbelievable. She was our champ!
Then one day came when our champ fell sick. She had eaten something bad. We don’t know how it happened because we carefully oversaw what she ate. And no matter what we tried, she just kept getting sicker, till there was a time when she just lay still, breathing very shallowly, her eyes closed. All the kids in the house were crying, me, my brother and our cousin, because we thought we’d loose our Tabby that night. When no medication helped her and she just went very still, our parents told us to go to bed. I still remember what my mother told me ‘it won’t help her if you kids stay up for her. If she lives, she lives. If she doesn’t, well...’ and she looked away sadly. We went to bed, knowing that she won’t see the morrow, yet hoping for her survival.
Somewhere around midnight, my Mother screamed in her room. We all woke up. We kids rushed into the room to see what happened… and there she was, dancing and prancing atop my parent’s bed as if nothing had happened to her. She was alive and how! Then she proceeded to bound into our room and pee on the makeshift bed my cousin was sleeping on. Well…I told you she was crafty.
But our affair with Tabby wasn’t long lived. One day when we took her on a car ride, it scared her off good. And just as suddenly Tabby had come into our lives, she was gone. For days we mourned the loss. For days I dreamed of her. We blamed each other for her running away – who was it who suggested that we take her in the car? I still don’t know who did and it doesn’t matter now, because we did love her a lot. But maybe she was looking for another home. I hope she found it. I hope she is someone’s Tabby. But till this day, every cat I see is Tabby for me.