I had left my parents and all my friends back in Kolkata to start my job career in Cutack. My landlord who lived with his wife and a son with special needs, let out his 1st floor to me. After my 1st day in a new job, I came back home and put a vessel of milk to boil. “No one to speak to, no one to share my thoughts..”
The scent of boiling milk had attracted one of the most beautiful cats I had ever seen. She was furry brown, with black stripes; the eyes were yellow and bright.
I gave her a bowl of milk to drink. “Who are you, maa?” I asked. “I have only milk for you since I don’t eat fish or meat. Ok?”
A feeble “Meow” came out.
Next morning, I was shocked to see my entire vessel of milk empty. It was obvious. I laughed at my stupidity. “Why did I ever leave the vessel out in the open?” As a new packet of milk was boiling, the “MEOW!!” sounded more like a demand than. a request. “So, Am I your tenant now?” I asked, placing another bowl of milk.
Ammu became my new friend. She would gently rub against my legs when I cooked, sit on my lap when I watched TV, sit patiently for her share while I ate, greet me with continuous “MEOW!!” whenever I returned from work. The landlady hated cats, but didn’t seem to mind Ammu coming upstairs. One day, I noticed a bulge in her belly & she was restless.
“She is going into labour. You better get an empty carton for her & her kittens, but you ensure the house is clean always.” The landlady was gentle but firm. I brought an empty carton, put an old bedsheet and pillow for her.
Six healthy screaming kittens and their ever demanding mother!! Of course, There was no fish or meat. But Ammu didn’t mind. Sometimes eggs were added, but that was it! I loved this change in surroundings so much – my weekly chat with parents would only consist of Ammu and her kittens.
One day, I came home drenched in the rain. I dried myself up fast and changed to warm clothes, but I could feel fever gripping me. It was 102°F. I lay down in bed covered with all the sheets I had. Suddenly, “MEOW!!” – it was Ammu. She jumped into bed and lay quietly by my side. I could feel her warmth near me and slowly went to sleep. The next morning, I woke up with a feeling as if nothing had happened the previous night. I felt wonderful, no fever, as if an energy flowed all over me.
“MEOW!” It was Ammu. Then her kittens started. I got up and gave their usual dose. When the head-butting, scratching & grooming over, I visited the local doctor, who said I was fit & fine. It was all due to Ammu.
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