Saturday, May 26, 2007

Moody Cat

A very long time ago, I promised readers posts on my cats. I never did get around to writing those posts for various reasons - but I've decided to rectify that by doing a post on our Moody Cat, the cat who adopted us soon after we got married. People who don't care all that much for cats/animals might want to skip what will definitely be a long, rambling, maudlin post.

I first saw Moody one winter afternoon - she'd got into the house somehow, and seeing me, a complete stranger, she was rushing helter-skelter to try and find a way out before I chased her or hurt her in any way. I opened the terrace door for her and stepped aside so she could have the space to run out, and hoped she'd visit again. She was on our terrace a couple more times, once with a rather goodlooking gold and white tom, who was clearly enamoured of her. Next time, I called out to her - she came closer, wary yet curious - and graciously lapped up the bowl of milk I held out to her as a friendly overture. She became a regular visitor from then on - and delighted to have a cat around again, we took to feeding her. She was astonishingly well-bred and well-mannered - she would wait patiently outside the door for us in the morning, drink her milk, allow herself to be petted, and then curl up in the shade. She never asked for anything more - and while we repeatedly urged her to come inside, she never did - till enough time had elapsed for her to trust us, approve of us, and decide that we really did want her. I remember the first time she came in - tail erect, she wandered around, peeping into the kitchen, sniffing around - and that night, after dinner, she jumped onto a chair in the foyer, curled up, and regarded us with a solemn happiness that clearly said - 'I like you. This is my home now.' And it was.

We soon discovered just how quirky and moody she was, especially when it came to food - hence the name - she'd drink a bowl of milk one day, sniff at it suspiciously the next; eat her fish and rice happily one day, and the next day refuse till we sat beside her and coaxed her into eating; discover a love for paneer and sweets, only to go off them just after I'd fixed a paneer meal for her. Moody became our child, companion, friend - we went fish shopping, got her her own plate, fussed after her, took care of the colds to which she was prone, chased away the horrid old tom who beat her up and stole her food, increased her protein intake once we realised she was pregnant - and in return Moody was affectionate, trusting, looking to us for love, shelter and protection; she was always there to greet us when we returned from work or elsewhere, there to curl up beside us while we were watching TV, to jump onto our bed and sleep alongside us at night.

She soon figured out that I loved her unconditionally, and would forgive any transgressions - she was simultaneously a pet, companion and almost a friend to me. With K (my husband), though, it was a different ball game altogether - she loved him, felt secure around him, yet feared him, because he was the authoritarian one. Quite a stormy relationship they had, too - Moody's naughty fits were always noticed and punished, whereupon she would sulk and look the other way whenever she caught sight of him, till he had cajoled her and grovelled enough to merit forgiveness (one of the funniest sights was that of K's rump sticking out while the rest of him was under the dining table, coaxing Moody out of her sulky fit with a fat pork frankfurter). When, however, she decided he had gone too far with the disciplinarian act, she'd punish him the best way she knew - by peeing copiously on whichever pair of his shoes was closest to hand, glaring defiantly all the while. As for the fireworks that usually followed - let's not go there.

Moody's babies, of course, were just as much our children- they took over our lives completely. Ariel, Aslan and Piglet will form the subject matter of another post - suffice to say that Moody was a very good mother, till they turned three months old, which is when she decided it was time they were weaned. After that she would content herself with sniffing them all over to make sure they were alive and healthy, and then smack them out of the way. They got a bit too much for her in the end, though, especially when they were over four months old and running all over the place, giving neither her nor us a moment's respite - she decided she couldn't share her space with them any longer, and left. She'd drop in initially a couple of times a week, but then stopped coming altogether. I, of course, promptly went out of my mind with worry and misery, till I accepted it as one of the things that regularly occur in the feline world. K spotted her around the place a couple of times - she seemed to be okay, he told me.

I still miss Moody. I loved her happy maiow of welcome when I'd return from work, loved her affectionate moments when she'd butt her head against my leg and purr contentedly as I stroked her soft, silky fur. She'd keep me company in the kitchen whenever it was my turn to cook - I'd sometimes sing to her (she was the only one who seemed to enjoy my very tuneless singing), or talk to her, and she'd respond with a twitch of an ear or the flick of a tail - but mostly we did our own thing in companionable silence, she either stretched out, grooming her already spotless fur, or sitting upright, paws folded beneath her, contemplating the mysteries of life in typical inscrutable cat-fashion. I remember one time when K was late returning home from work - attempts to reach him on his phone had been unsuccessful, and I was really worried. Moody stuck close to me throughout - when I was in the room she was sitting next to me, brilliant green eyes fixed on me, when I paced out on the terrace, she paced with me, occasionally rubbing herself against my leg. Even after I got her dinner ready she didn't leave my side - she only ate after K had returned, and she sensed my relief.

But the sweetest, and most incredibly touching thing she ever did - I was home alone one evening, and I'd ordered a chicken I intended to cook for dinner. When the delivery guy appeared, Moody went with me to answer the door. Once I'd opened the door, I went back inside to get the money, and on returning to the door, I saw Moody standing squarely in the entrance of the doorway, staring straight at the delivery boy, tail swishing from side to side slowly, dangerously. She was guarding the house, guarding me. My little Moody, who certainly would not have been a match for an adult male, had decided I needed protection, and had appointed herself guard-cat. I never loved her more than I did at that moment. Wherever she is now, I hope she's well, and safe - most of all, I hope she's found another family to love and be loved by, another family who's discovered she likes DMS milk, not Mother Diary, loves pork, not chicken, and loves having her head stroked and her cheeks scratched, but hates being picked up.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Things people may - or may not - know about me

This is going to a fun blog, quite different from any of my other posts in both content and tone. Inspired by a friend, who wrote a post entitled '10 random things about me' on her blog and then asked if any of her readers/friends would be brave enough to do the same on either her blog or their own, I've decided to go ahead, indulge in a bout of narcissism, and list out 10 things about me, in no particular order. Actually, while I'm at it, I'll go a bit further, and list out 15 things. So here goes.

1. I love editing. Seriously. It bothers me when an article or a book is so well-written that there is no need for me to intervene.

2. I love crying at the movies.

3. I abhor violence, but am morbidly fascinated by criminology, and addicted to all the crime serials on television - all the American and British ones, that is.

4. I have a very short attention span for pretty much everything.

5. I adore television, and even insist on staying in to watch my favourite shows while on holiday. Hotel rooms have to have cable TV, else I'm not staying there.

6. I've always liked animals more than people, but after 31 years of living, the last 10 of which have been spent in a moral cesspit called Delhi, I'm a confirmed misanthrope.

7. I'm the biggest procrastinator that ever lived.

8. I'm also a chronic, obsessive worrier - there are times when I wish I didn't have such an active imagination, for I'm always thinking of a million reasons why something should go wrong, and a million more ways in which it can go wrong.

9. I'm a very good mimic.

10. I'm very, very shy, a trait that most people interpret as arrogance or snobbishness. That irks me, because shyness and snobbery are two entirely different things - when I'm being snobbish, trust me, you'll know.

11. And here's a weird thing - despite being shy, I love being the centre of attention (which, sadly, hardly ever happens). I loved doing presentations, both at the university, and the few brief times at my workplace.

12. I love early mornings, even though I'm not a morning person.

13. I still don't know how to drive, and I'm terrified at the prospect of learning.

14. If I could choose a superpower, I'd want to be like Jean Grey (of the X-Men).

15. I don't have a favourite colour.

So, to ask my friend (and everyone else who might be reading this) the same question she asked - do I come across as odd, or, as I like to think, fairly normal? And if people want to tell me 10 - or more - things about themselves, you're welcome to do so in the comments section - I'd love to know!