Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Catalytic Conversion

The loud clatter of the cartwheeling metal bucket brought my entire household to the scene. ''Oh, it's nothing. I just kicked the bucket, I said rubbing my sore toes. Relieved, they went back to their chores once they realised that I was on one of my (by then famous) cat chases.
For they knew that I detested cats ever since I sustained a fall, with mild concussion, after I slipped (skiied) on cat's excrement a couple of years earlier. In reality, the seeds of aversion were sown in my childhood during a dinner visit to a cat-fancier relative of ours. On that occasion, a retinue of his pet cats had over-whelmed the dinner table demanding a cut in the menu. For me it was simply a cat(ch)-22 situation. In the end I was cajoled into sharing my food with the cats in the ratio of 3:5.
Therefore, not surprisingly, I had enforced a no-ply-zone for cats around my house by making fierce faces at the intruders and giving them hot chases with war cries. They got the message after a few encounters and stayed off. But curiousely enough, even those cats I had never seen - the ones on courtesy calls to their kin in our locality - feared crossing my path and ran for cover at my very sight.
It was as though some police artist of the feline world had drawn my portrait and stuck its copies (titled 'Unwanted') on the walls of the cat haunts. I even suspected that the feline tourist guides might have cat-alogued me under 'things to avoid'!
Then one afternoon as I sat sipping my cuppa following a catnap, a kitten peeped and hesitantly entered my room. Much as the mother cat frantically caterwauled ''come back, you silly mutt'' in 'catonese', the kitten advanced towards me with the feline grace of a model on the catwalk.
I put on my horror mask and shouted 'Get lost'. She said '' which to me sounded like'Why me? Why not you?'
Mollified by her militant posture, I took a closer look at her. She was truly bold and beautiful. And, by Tom, cuddly. I stroked her nape tenderly. Her response was like that of a barber's client to a 'heady' massage. As I waited on her, she ordered a cuppa for herself and I served it to her indulgently. Having finished her meal, she licked her lips clean and yawned. Then instinctively she circled my feet, rubbed her back against my ankle and left with jaunty strides.
That night our neighbourhood cats were particularly boisterous. They might have congregated to felicitate the courageous kitten, I thought, and to recommend her name for a peace prize - for bringing about a thaw in my attitude vis-a-vis the cathood - during the kitten's day celebration of the feline republic.

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