The lesson I learnt from a stray cat

The lesson I learnt  from a stray cat
Photo: Getty Images

When I was eight years old, there was this cat that used to visit our house daily. It used to stand on our doorway and meowed for a long while. Mom then comes with a broom and tries to scare it away. But the next day, at about the same time, it will be there again, at our doorway. After trying that about a week continuously and failing terribly, mom gave up. I wasn’t a cat lover initially. I was more into dogs. But I absolutely loved its courage. It stood up to MOM and succeeded. Even my dad can’t do that.

That was how our friendship started. I talk to him (it’s a he) about my class and my best friends and what a jerk Malavika, my mortal enemy was. And he meows back, taking it all in, and agreeing to the fact that Malavika was indeed, a jerk. My dad hated him. ‘a little monster’ that’s what my dad used to call him. I can’t completely disagree with him. He was enormous. He was a mixture of grey and black. And he had these rashes on its back. But that wasn’t his fault. Someone did that to him. Poor thing.

Mom described him as ‘a mini tiger’ and that’s what I named him. Not mini tiger. But Tiger. And he was a tiger, okay. Even though he was nice and sweet with his loved ones, he was pure evil, Satan himself, with his enemies. If you’ve would’ve seen him fighting with this black cat whose appearance itself spelled, cunning, you would agree with me. I named him, Villain. Cause he was a villain, villain to my hero, Tiger. After his daily routine fight with him, he would visit me and complain about him. I listened just like how a good friend should be and consoled him by assuring him that the black cat was a jerk just like Malavika was.

And his diet was also pretty cool. He ate almost everything I gave him. We used to provide only vegetarian food and he ate everything we gave. Without any hesitation. We used to call him ‘Tiger, the vegetarian’ for fun. Once I gave him corn flakes and he even ate that. That just really proves the fact that we were meant to be, meant to be best friends.

One early morning, I woke up and was wishing Tiger would meet me early. I had a dream, and I wanted to share it with him. So I went out, searching for him, to find out whether he was inside our compound. And then I saw something terrible, which completely broke my little heart. He was preying on a newborn squirell, and it was making this weird crying sound which really messed up my mind. And there was blood and a lot of other stuff. I screamed not knowing what to do. Mom came, and it was like she read my mind. She came with a broom. And this time, for the first time ever, instead of merely scaring it away with a broom, she actually beat him, with it. He made a screeching sound and ran away.

Then mom went inside, and came back with a glass of water and a spoon dipped in it. She gave the water drop by drop to the squirrel and it still opened its tiny mouth wanting more. By the time, I was crying. There was so much tears that my mother, now looking back, says ‘the squirrel could have had enough water coming out of your eyes’.

When that happened, I felt like Tiger betrayed me. Betrayed my friendship. I didn’t have the wisdom to understand that’s his food habits. And food habits of animals never change. In fact, how much we try the basic traits of cats or any other species will never change including us.

Now when I think about this experience, being more wise and understanding, bigger question marks comes to my mind.

Taking an ardent interest in psychology , human behaviour has always made me wonder, is this what we are? Taking into account the evils that are happening in our world, is this our basic trait? Are we violent genetically? Do we seek pleasure in harming others? Or is this more complicated than that? Do I need more wisdom to be able to answer these dark questions? These questions remain unanswered.

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