“Pets” are lucky beings that get love, affection and caring from humans. In return pets fulfill their duties by offering good companionship, comfort and security to their masters. Some people are in so much of love with their pets that they do not differentiate them to be animals but part of the human society.
My old aunt whom I recently met after several years lives a lonely life. Her sole companion is a small, black, frail cat that she loves as her own son and is in always praise of it. In my recent meeting with her I got to see her pet.
The small house that my aunt lives is among one of the many houses lined along one of the busy streets of a small town in India. The rising dust from the vehicles passing by on the road has turned the narrow two storey house, muddy. Small dark passage from the main entrance leads to the upper store which my aunt calls her home. As I walked to the upper store climbing the stairs one by one, my legs brushed against something soft on one of the steps. I could hardly notice in the darkness what that thing was. I would easily step on it if I hadn’t heard the chirpy “meow” that the thing cried out. There is sat on one of the steps with its legs tucked below its body. As I brushed it, he got on his feet quickly and as I moved towards the door of the house, he ran ahead of me and made it selves comfortable in one of the warm cozy corners of the house. He gave one strange look at me and slowly closed his eyes and relaxed. The familiar shaky voice of my old aunt was quick to question “Who is it at the door?” I announced myself to her as I settled in one of the old wooden chairs in the room. My aunt looked at me with her eyes sharpened in the dim light. “Oh, it is you my child… after a long time, how good to see you” she said. I had met her after almost two years.”Did Mani show you the way to home?” she asked. I guessed it was the cat that she was referring to. “Yes, off course he did” I said with a smile. She smiled back at me and then with kindness, caressed Mani. “He is such a smart boy”. “I have not seen a cat in my life as intelligent as he is”, words of appreciation were soon to shower on Mani. “Will you have some hot milk or you like some biscuits” that was a token for his smartness to show me the way to the door.
“He will snuggle around the legs and then bows down with respect (as if to say “Namaste”, the traditional Indian salutation)” to known people. “See how he soon recognized you to be a non stranger”. “Come on boy, show how you salute”.” She ordered Mani. When he Grrred, she pulled out a stick from beneath a cot to scare it a little. Mani ran with fear and quickly clung to my legs and shrank between my feet. “Yes… see how he obeys now.. see how he is bowing to you with respect” Aunt said. “He is too smart”. “You know…He knows that it is forbidden to eat flesh in the house (my Aunt is a strict vegetarian) so he devours rats, lizards and other flesh outside the house. There was little that I could do to verify that. I just kept listening. “And when he is done, he washes himself and then comes inside”. Wow too good manners for a cat, so tidy and clean. And how intelligent that he knows my Aunt is a strict vegetarian I thought with sarcastic amusement.” He never puts his mouth in the milk bowl inside the house. If he wants milk, he signals by voicing “meow” and gesturing meaningfully to come out with him to serve him milk outside”. “He loves chicken. Whenever we pass by the chicken store next door, he “meows” and gestures with his head and eyes rolling, asking us to buy a lump of flesh for him to eat”. “You know…he understands two languages already.” She moved close to his face and talked to him in a different language to prove to me that he indeed understands. Mani kept shaking his head and kept crying meow in response. My Aunt thought that was the sign that he really understood what she was saying. “Whenever guests leave home, he follows them to the door to bid them good-bye”. What an impressive little chap he was !. Too much for an animal to do. Could be envy for any kid at home I thought. I knew that my aunt was over exaggerating everything about Mani. But the fact that she was drawing so much happiness in that and the loneliness that she was trying to kill with the help of the cute little thing, was heart touching.