“Why do you let that cat into our kitchen? It will eat our food when you are away,” I told my wife who was battling in the kitchen in the early hours of the morning. “You are busy with your computer upstairs, and who is there with me to save me from my loneliness? So I have invited Sundari into the kitchen,” my wife replied. Sundari, the name my wife had given to that stray cat, was left out by our nearest neighbours who shifted to another place. Sundari was not that ‘sundari’ (beautiful), but an average cat of native breed with pink and white colours. Being a stray cat it was frightened when I or my son approached. None of us were allowed to stroke her. The very touch and cry of the cat removed my wife’s solitude. In a way I am guilty of leaving my wife alone in the kitchen for many hours. She is not a feminist and so she never insisted that I should help her in cooking. We belong to a patriarchal family line and the men in the family have superiority over women. So my wife was never demanding but I should have helped her instead of giving replies to my email friends. She didn’t like the help of a servant fearing the loss of privacy. When I teach feminism to my students I pray to God to dissuade the students from asking its practice in my own life. A teacher should be a model to the students.
My wife’s friendship with Sundari continued and the bond became stronger and stronger. Still she could not stroke the cat. Sundari became pregnant and after one two months it gave birth to two kittens, both photocopies of the mother. They were brought down to the kitchen from the berth after a week. Now my wife had three companions in place of one. Her kitchen work became smoother and happier. I was also entertained by the plays of the kittens. Then one of the kittens was found missing. What happened to it is still unknown. Since my wife was happy with the cats, I decided to buy a beautiful kitten of foreign pedigree, which we could stroke, lie on our lap, and have communication with it. When I expressed my desire, one of my colleagues told me that he would supply me a twins instead of one. Accordingly I went to his house and he presented me a cartel bearing the twins. The cartel was opened in one of our rooms after shutting its door. My wife and my son were very anxious to look at the guests. Two angels got out of the cartel. Indeed they were very very beautiful. They had snowy white fur except dark spots on their head and tails. The tails were thick and bushy, characteristic of the Ooty cats. Pairs of emeralds on their heads looked at us. The twins were not scared at all. My wife placed some milk before them and they drank a little. Then they started their running. They were identical twins; one had more dark spots on the head than the other. My wife named them Manikutty and Amminikutty.
Needless to say, these twins brought our innocent childhood back. We started to behave like children playing with these twins. Sundari and its kitten were ignored. In fact they refused to come to the kitchen as the twins encroached the place. Still, food was supplied to them in the back yard. A plastic ball was bought for the twins. The way they played football was more thrilling than watching the World Cup. Naturally the agility of these kittens is superior to the World Cup heroes. Along with pleasures, the twins supplied us burdens and restrictions. For the first three days they found our bedroom, particularly the bed and pillows, as their toilet. We had to wash the bed sheets, replace pillows and even changing the bed. As a precaution the bedrooms and the reading room had to be kept shut always. The beautiful sofa cover was pulled down by the twins and urinated on it. The sofa remained without its cover and it became the place for sharpening their nails. Still, these problems and hardships had the sweetness. Bitter sweetness! Gradually the twins started to use the bathrooms, but not the closets. It was my duty to remove the excrement and clean the bathroom with lotion. It had to be done thrice a day. The twins, when not playing, wanted to sit on our laps. The very jump on to the lap when we were reading or writing pricked our thighs. Once when my leg started to bleed I was worried. I had read that the nail wounds of the cats could cause rabies. As the twins were not affected by rabies, I risked to not taking anti-rabies injections. Manikutty demanded more strokes and cares from us than Amminikutty. She, not satisfied with our strokes, would climb on the shoulder and even head. Though they don’t bathe with water and soap as we do twice a day, how clean are their bodies! But how many times they do bathe their bodies with their saliva! We have to learn much from Nature. Their clutches with the nails pained me and I had to wear a shirt always to save my chest, especially nipples. Remember, the kittens had been fed by its mother when I brought them. The third day of their arrival, as I was reading newspaper in the morning, the twins jumped on to my lap and started crying. I stroked them, but it couldn’t pacify them. “What are they crying for? They have been fed just now. Have gone to toilet? Yes, that’s also done. Then what?” I thought. Why didn’t God give speech power to non-human beings? In a way it’s better they don’t have. The sound pollution which man makes is deadlier than the atomic radiation! The nasty, ugly words which dart from his mouth can annihilate millions! In fact it boomerangs to the Creator Himself! Man plays a discordant note to the symphony which all other creatures make in this universe. “Miau, miau, miau, miau,” the twins were still pestering me. “What do you want? What are you crying for?” I asked. “Maa, maa, maa, maa,” the tone was different. “Oh! They are calling for their mother,” I could read their language. Probably they were asking me where their mother was. An arrow pierced through my heart. I’ve never thought of their attachment to their mother. I could read also their mother’s moans. Was it not cruel of me to snatch away these little ones from their mother? The thought pricked me and my heart started to bleed. Shall I return the twins to its mother? No, I shouldn’t be so sentimental. After all life is a sum of innumerable meetings and partings! God has given His creation the strength to bear such pangs! I sought refuge in such philosophies.
There are many things which we human beings can learn from these ‘sub-human’ beings. (Are we superior to them except in brain and speech?) The expression of these twins’ love—their kissing each other, hugs, licking one another, sleeping on other’s body, eating and drinking from the same plate, playing together etc. etc.—are real feasts for our eyes and mind. They are the real beauties! When they are around me I can’t pluck my eyes from them. Indeed they are joys for ever! Their dangling on the door curtains, climbing over the grills, sitting together on the TV, dining table, especially on the newspaper, like two marble statues–are treats for us! Once Amminikutty climbed over a window through its curtain and started dangling on the flicker lamb at the foot of my father’s photograph. Had my father been alive in the photo, he would have picked the kitten and hugged it, for he was a lover of cats when he lived. In my childhood we reared a cat always to the kill mice. The cats used to sleep with us.
The twins’ plays went to such an extreme that they climbed on a tender chilly plant which my wife nursed with extra care on the backyard. My wife used to pluck hot chillies from it. The plant was broken. Instead of anger we felt only happiness. Had the mischief been done by my son when he was a child, we would have punished him, because God has given him reasoning power. Human beings, having developed brains, do all sorts of crimes and evils which other animals never do. One day as I was having tea in the College canteen, one of my colleagues read the news about the five murders committed by a man. He killed his wife, hid the body in the safety tank of the toilet; two days later he raped his own little daughter, killed her and her brother and buried somewhere; after three days he brought his remaining two children from the school, killed them and locked the bodies in a room. Commenting on this diabolical act, one teacher said, “How can one become so brutal?” I told him rather hot, “Dear friend, don’t dishonour animals. Never compare such human activities to animals.’ Does any animal attack another without any reason? Except for food, do animals kill other creatures? Do they attack us unless they are provoked, disturbed or scared? The very term “brutal” has to be redefined.” All the teachers assembled there agreed to my views.
Things went very smooth in our house. The twins made our house a heaven. Our daughter in New Delhi is eagerly waiting for the holidays after six months to experience the twins’ play. She would bring ties for them. As her birthday is approaching I shall present her this story as this year’s birthday gift. A few days later my wife told me, “Dear, what would our mother do when she comes here for stay tomorrow? How could she manage the twins when we leave her alone from ten to four on working days?” Our mother is eighty-seven years old, weak and heart patient. She is prolonging her life fed by countless tablets. She has been staying in my brother’s house for a few months. She wishes to stay with us for some months. How can I tell her not to come to our house since we have two kittens? I told my wife, “Don’t worry dear, mother will manage. Or, shall we give back the kittens to the teacher who gave us?” Though I asked her so, I never intended to do it. “No question of leaving these angels,” my wife replied. “OK, we will manage the crisis somehow,” I told her.
My mother was brought to our house the next day. She was delighted to see those kittens in the house. She enjoyed their plays. The next day, Monday, my wife had to go to her school and, I to my college. Leaving mother’s food and medicines on the table in her room for her intake at 12 noon, I went to college. The twins were fed and they were sleeping then. Extra food was placed for them in the kitchen. I prayed to God that the twins should not create any problem to my mother. At one o’ clock I returned home for my lunch. When I opened the front door I could hear the gasping sound of my mother. I rushed to her bedroom and found that she was struggling for breath. I asked if she took the medicine. She replied in a very low voice, “The kittens tumbled down the tablets as well as food when I was sleeping.” True, I found the scattered tablets on the white-tiled floor which she could not find out. The food was also scattered on the floor. At once I gave her emergency medicine to ensure her easy breath. I cleaned the floor. The twins were found sleeping on the dining table. I started to think, “Who is dearer to me, mother or the kittens? No doubt my mother, who gave me birth and nurtured me to this position.” Though reluctantly, I took the cartel in which the twins were brought, put the sleeping kittens in it and tied with a twine. Mother was gradually recovering. I told her, “Ma, I have to go to college now. You will be OK after a few minutes. I shall return after one hour.” “OK, you may go,” mother replied. I took the cartel to my car, and drove along the road. Beyond the town I reached a lonely area. I stopped the car. The twins were still sleeping. My heart started to tighten. I felt a kind of suffocation in my throat. It was very painful for me to depart the cats. Am I doing right or wrong? If they were to be disposed so, why did I bring them to my house? Wouldn’t they have lived happily in my colleague’s house? A series of wounding questions strangled my heart. I have to take a decision. Gathering all my energy, I took the cartel and placed it on the side of the road. With shaking hands I opened it. The kittens were awakening. They were startled by the new surroundings. Weeping, I bade them good bye. I got into the car and started the engine. The twins came to the door of the car crying. Weren’t they asking me, “Pappa, are you leaving us? Please don’t leave us. Please don’t leave us. How will we live? Who will feed us? Wasn’t it better that you killed us?” I broke into tears. Suddenly my mobile rang. It was my mother’s. God! Is she serious? “Ma, what happened?” I asked. “Where are the kittens? I don’t find them in the house!” mother replied. “Ma, I have left them on the road since they are trouble to us,” I said. “Are you mad? What wrong have they done? Do they have reasoning power as we do have? Bring them back,” she cried. “But ma…,” I whispered. “No but. If you can’t, then you may discard me also,” she reacted. “OK ma. I am bringing them back,” I consoled her. Life was restored to me. My breathing became normal. The suffocation and the aching of the heart disappeared. I got down from the car, took the twins, hugged them, kissed them and brought them back to my house. My mother was happy again that she got back her companions. She had experienced too much of solitude in my house that these kittens proved real companions to her. “My dear son, I can’t live with out these angels,” she said. “Alright mother, I am going to appoint a home nurse for you and the kittens,” I replied. When my wife returned in the evening I told her what had happened. She was horrified to hear of my cruelty to the twins. She too agreed to appoint a home nurse. Till we get one I decided to take casual leaves. Thus our house became heaven again!