I was in the habit of bringing home stray cats and dogs as a five year old. My baby-sitter used to throw them all back to the streets as soon as I fell asleep. Now, about 19 years down the line ( yeah! I agree 20 is a round figure, but I choose not to lie about my age on either side) I still attract a few stray cats into the house. :)
One of these street friends is a shameless, self-proclaimed guest in the balcony attached to my room. It is one of those standard yellow cats. The ones that are produced on a staggeringly large scale and look exactly like each other. They look the same unless you get to know one particular personally and spend enough time to make out its high pitched meow from the others.
This one is ,by no special efforts from my side, one of those personally known standard yellow cats.
It is ensconced on top of the old steel cupboard meant to store the linen and when you leave it slightly ajar in a hurry to tidy up the place before guests show up, you can find the cat gleefully snoring inside the cupboard camouflaged in a yellow rug.
It does have the "thief reflexes" for it would not continue sleeping if you try to shoo it away. It would get up and run before you blink but it is not out of shame or guilt. It is the kind of reflex that says, " I will use all your things and not let you catch me too!"
It dips its whiskers in freshly boiled milk almost every other day and mysteriously I am held responsible for the theft for encouraging it and sent out to bring a fresh stock.
About two days back as I was busy packing, ( I seem to do nothing else these days) it came up and peeped through the door that leads to the balcony. We had the following dialogue
Cat: What's with the bag Missy? Did they finally decide to get rid of you? It was long overdue. This bed looks too warm and too inviting for someone as jumpy as you.
Me: Shut up!! I am not going forever you know. I will be back now and then and dare you enter my room after I am gone. I have had enough of you already.
Cat: You amuse me..( and then it casually licks its paw). You see, you are the weirdest of your kind. Sometimes I wonder whether to laugh or sympathize.
Me: Oh yeah!! At least I am not a thief. And I don't claim other people's beds.
Cat: It is not really about the bed, or the milk is it? What if I have a sip or take a nap. They real problem is jealousy. I have watched you get up at ungodly hours and then run around the block wearing funny pants. I have watched you waste your Sundays with the broom and talk endlessly on the phone while I doze off. You are jealous that you cannot be me.
Me: Please!! I would never want to be you. There are better cats in this world. Cats that measure higher than you on the ethics scale. Cute, black and white cats. I'd rather be them than you.
Cat: ( Coming inside and sitting inside my bag turning its back into a ball) My dear friend you boast of knowing cats in vain. For if you know cats, you must also know that there is nothing like an "ethical cat" in this world. Ethics are just rules made by the majority of weaker human beings to save themselves from getting wiped out.
Me: Philosophy comes easy when you have free food and free bed. I would rather take this from a hard working cat than a trash-bin loafer like you. How many female felines have you taken for a ride? huh? Just get off my bag now I don't want my shawls smelling like you.
Cat: Ha! There is no chance that they smell like me after you pour litres of perfume over them. My physician blames my recent bouts of asthma to the particularly citrus spray that you keep on splashing on your shirts like it comes a penny a litre.
Me: Excuse me. I work hard to deserve that..and why am I even talking to you..the next thing I know you'd be rubbing your back against my calves to get a full meal.
Cat: Damn right you are!! But somewhere in the mean corners of my mind I like you too. I mean not in an obviously devoted way like a Dog would, but I think you are sensible and so much like me.
Me: What!! How am I like you?
Cat: You let me stay in your balcony for about a year now. Without shooing me away. You persistently ignore me and I like that. I do that to people all the time. Just like me, you are selfish too. Like how you do not like anyone messing with the contents of your dressing drawer. Or the way you snarl at people at the hint of an offense. The way you refuse to go out of your way to help people you do not know. The way you doze off with a book on your nose on Sundays with two blankets, socks and specific instructions to people to refrain from disturbing you. Ah! And your baths..two times a day for a quarter of an hour..all of it reminds me of us. And I have also caught you leaving anonymous bowls of milk and cookies in my way. But I like it that you do not wear your affection on your sleeve.
Me: Well, if that analogy makes you feel good about yourself..go ahead..be my guest! But could you please get off my shawls now!! I can see yellow fur all over them already!
Cat: Certainly Miss!Only as long as you get up and follow me into the kitchen. I can smell something delicious over there. Rasgullas eh? It is strange that no one seems to notice the extra baggage you have started accumulating all over you. Are you sure they don't have a weight limit on board?
Me: Make it fast smarty pants. Your free food coupon expires in three minutes.
..And this is how we manage to live happily ever after.