Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Nature surrounding us is verdantly lush and Green--the Rains have washed away the dust and grime of the earlier year to put a shine back into the various shades of Green that abound around us.How Sudhir would have loved this Monsoon--for it does hark back to the old days---when it rained cats and dogs for about 4 months every year--cooling Mother Earth and covering her with mantle of beautiful lush Green!!Those days we would love to take long drives into the Sahyadris that are just outside Mumbai--the sight of those bare burnt Hillsides of Summer now carpeted thickly with tender,luscious Grass and those innumerable little Waterfalls cascading noisily down the steep slopes was a veritable feast for the eyes--soothing yet exhiliarating!!We had a fascination for Nature and trips to the nearby Hill Stations of Lonavla---Khandala was always on the cards during the Monsoon--except when the visibility was bad due to heavy downpours and Landslides were imminent.This year my friends and I decided to visit Lonavla again in the Monsoon and all going well have a day out planned this Saturday--the 20th.July.This Weather reminds me of the old days and folks that I miss sorely in such circumstances.
Lotta was born in July--amidst a lot of spectacular show of Nature---and it was raining cats and dogs then too!!Those days things were still done in the old fashioned way--and I still remember Mummy turning one Bedroom into a Drying Room with lots of Heaters helping to dry out the volumnious numbers of the Nappies,Wrappers and Bed Sheets---- which would never have dried otherwise!!We had a fat Siamese Tom cat those days--an extremely beloved member of our family whom Ritu had named "Tibby" as it's technical owner but that was where it all ended for he was partial to Daddy most of all!!Now Sudhir had no love for either cats or dogs--but factually Tibby was also very attached to me and hence accepted Sudhir as an extension of me. Tibby was well trained enough---and each morning before Breakfast Mummy would ask him to fetch Daddy to the table--which he'd do with alacrity--for all Meal times meant plentiful scraps for him from the table!! Whenever Sudhir was visiting ,he'd fetch the two men to the table with a lot of impatient meowing and once they were seated he'd plonk himself under Sudhir's chair as a form of a special favour he felt he was bestowing Sudhir!! As Sudhir never remembered to feed him scraps,he'd remind him by swatting his ankle with his soft,furry paw which would make Sudhir look down absent mindedly and swear ferociously!!"Komal ask that damn cat to stop tickling me--and please call him something else--sounds like T.B. to me!!" he'd complain while dropping down bits of an Omelette,Ham or Bacon for Tibby to devour!!Most of all Tibby loved crisp well buttered pieces of Toast---and the amount that he ate along with his Cat Food made him huge for a cat--and very heavy to carry!!
For me he was my personal hot water bottle in the cold Winters--for he would slide in under my quilt and curl up into a fat,furry ball right next to my feet.In fact he'd eat Dinner and then rub himself against my legs--alternately entreating or scolding me to bed each night!!It was when Lotta was born that he really forgot he was a cat--he'd sit watch over Lotta sleeping in her Crib--all fluffed up, keeping an Eagle eye on her well being!!Amma who had come down for a few days to be with us during her Vacation would try to shoo him away--but he'd bare his teeth like Terrier and holler back at her--complaining so long and loud that she'd just have to back off!!Though I must admit--he was perhaps the most loving feline that I've ever seen--he'd rush to greet Daddy every evening when he came home after Office--he'd even act as my Alarm clock during my exams by patting my face with his fat little paw--and then if I still failed to wake up--yowling loudly into my poor ears till I did!!How he sensed these things is beyond my ken--but he was very finely attuned to all of us and our needs. Lotta would try to cuddle him when we visited my parents--she was around 8 months old then--and he'd patiently allowed her to baby handle him very clumsily----pulling his tail while crawling after him to catch him and when he let her ,literally crushing him so tight that I'm sure he'd have trouble breathing--but he'd let her have her way.Later when she was almost 18 months old when we visited again,he would be her constant companion sounding the alarm whenever she got up to some mischief!! The way she would scold him for that in Baby talk and the way he'd answer her back in meows and yowls would really be hilarious to witness!!
Most of all I cannot thank Tibby enough for so many things--the companionship he provided when I was studying late into the nights for my Exams,the watch he kept everywhere for those deadly reptiles--Cobras and such--warning us in time to handle the situation.He would also sit next to Daddy offering silent consolation--patting him with a furry paw when Daddy would light the paper pyre under the dead Cobra with his Magnifying Glass--for we revere Snakes and believe they deserve their Ritualistic Dignity in both Life and Death.It was also a habit of Tibby's to investigate our Bathrooms before any of us entered it--ensuring that it was safe for us to use!!For me he was almost human--and very beloved.He died under mysterious circumstances in September 1972--I was visiting my parents with Lotta then--and Daddy found him in the Garden one evening.We buried him in his favourite corner of the Garden and as we rolled a stone onto his grave as a marker a pair of Owls that lived in the Gulmohar tree watched--bobbing up and down in a silent "Good Bye" as they took in the scene of their old respected adversary being laid to rest!!Till Sudhir passed away he always had one question to ask whenever the topic of Tibby came up---why he was named as he was and exactly what was he actually--a Cat or a Dog????