Nowadays almost everyone has been sharing cute videos and photos of their pets. Unfortunately, my first meeting with my pet cat “Tiger” was when the social networks, selfie, posting a cute status didn’t exist. It was a time when there were no mobile phones or smartphones and cameras were very costly. So I only have memories and drawings of my pet cat.
Back in time, when I was in 5th grade, my family moved to a small town in Kerala(South India). We were living in a rented house. It was a very small house on a hilly area and scarcity of water was one big problem. One day when my mom was removing fish scales with a knife in the backyard, we heard the sound — MEOW MEOW. The sound felt like a roar. Behind the walls of the backyard, I saw the source of this strange sound. A big grey coloured cat with a thick tail. My mom who is always scared of cats, dogs, snakes…(the list goes on) tried to shoo the cat away. Cat hide behind the bushes.
“Oh. this cat is scary,” said my mom
“Mom, why did you scare the cat away? I am so bored and I need a pet,” complained I
“Always acts sick and stays at home. Now you want pet cat ha? Should I send you to school?” shouted mom.
“Sorry,” replied I and resumed playing super Mario game.
After a few hours, I heard the same MEOW MEOW sound. I was eating lunch and after lunch, I threw a fishbone outside the backyard. The cat got scared at first because it thought the fishbone was a stone. Then it got the smell of fish and approached near and ate it.
This throwing and catching of food went on for a few days. One day when I was brushing my teeth in the backyard, the cat came and rubbed my feet with its body. I learned that this is how cat shows affection. I was so happy.
A part of my family
I wasn’t happy to see my pet cat staying alone outside my home.
“Mom, mom, mommm..pleaseeee…,” pleaded I.
“No…no…no… no cat inside home,” proclaimed mom.
I didn’t stop my fight for pet justice. I knew what I had to do— Fasting or Hunger strike — which I learned from Gandhiji’s stories in the Social science subject at school. Next day I began my fasting in the morning.
“I don’t care,” said Mom in the morning
“I do care… Ok, you can keep it as your pet. Now please eat food,” said Mom in the afternoon.
It was as easy as that because my mom loves me too much and also because of my oscar level performance. My joy knew no bounds. Finally, I have something alive and cute instead of lifeless video games.
“Welcome to my family. From now on, you are a part of this family and your name is… Uhmm… TIGER, because you are big and you came from the forest” said I, looking at the pet cat’s adorable face.
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Happy days with my pet cat
Tiger, tiger, tiger, tig… The hill echoed with my voice. Our friendship was nothing less than a friendship you have seen in animation movies. As a shy kid at school and an introvert, loneliness and boredom were killing me. But the arrival of Tiger in my life was a serendipity. I got someone to spend my time. Though my pet cat didn’t know anything about video games, Tiger always loved to watch me playing games. Mom also started to love Tiger and convinced my dad that cat inside the home is fine. My dad always prepares his hot water for his morning bath in the backyard. He uses firewood and a portion of the backyard was filled with ashes of wood. Tiger loves to sleep near the ashes as it gives him the warmth and also… ashes to cover Tiger’s poo. My pet cat was allowed to enter the home during the daytime. At night, Tiger must sleep in the backyard where a special bed was made for him, with newspapers and old clothes. But Tiger always sneaks into my room at midnight. I, who sleep like a log at midnight hugs tiger. Ah… the silky soft velvet fur “blanket” that purs is still a fresh memory. In the morning, when mom comes to my room, Tiger jumps out of the plastic drum where we put old clothes, like “hide and seek”.
Dad was planning to own the rented home. Dad discussed this with his elder brother. Elder brother told my dad to not take any quick decisions and wait for him to come. Dad’s elder brother arrived and saw the rented home. He was disappointed with the condition.
“Are you serious? Spending 5 lakh rupees for this home?” said Dad’s elder brother.
“Yes, I think this is a better solution. I can’t find any other home nearby.” replied my dad.
“Search for a few cents of land nearby and build a home. Think about the future. Think about relatives who will visit your family and needs a few days stay. So never own this rented home,” insisted Dad’s brother.
Dad thought more about this and he realised his mistake. He enquired about land for sale and a middle-aged man, who was a Jehovah’s witness, told my dad that eight cents of land were for sale nearby. Dad had bought this land and the construction of new home began. I used to visit the site with Tiger.
After a year, we moved to new home. The new home is everything I ever dreamed of — More space/room, more facilities, beautiful garden with sweet-smelling colourful flowers(especially the flowers that blooms at 10am and 4pm), plenty of water and fresh air.
New Villain in the story
The new home is a paradise. But the paradise is close to a big house where a dictator cat lived — Pussan. The owner of the big house is an engineer and his wife is a teacher. They have a son who works abroad, so they had more time and love for Pussan. Pussan was a big, white, fearless and mean murderer cat who hurts and kills nearby cats and stray dogs. Pussan had own room, own bed, own toys and ate costly pet food. I still remember Pussan slapping and scratching the face of stray dogs that were close to the gate. Tiger was just opposite in character and looks. My Tiger is a real Indian forest cat. Because he was a strict follower of Buddist/Hinduism philosophy and never tried to bully or hurt anyone(Ahimsa/Non-violence). But cats are very territorial animals and the presence of a new cat(Tiger) in the area angered Pussan. He tried to attack Tiger whenever he could. One day when I returned home from school, I saw Tiger with wounds. Mom said Tiger was attacked by Pussan. I felt so sad and raged, but I realised the fact that Pussan had the upper hand — Physical strength. I informed the cruelty of Pussan to the owners but they didn’t care. They were praising their evil cat. My only option was to restrict my pet cat from going outside 🙁
In the animal world, Power decides who should stay alive and who should die. This struggle for existence and survival of fittest theories are no exceptions, even in this small town area. I decided to increase the power of my pet cat by giving protein, calcium, fat-rich foods. I gave him more milk with Complan, rice mixed with ghee, “Tiger” Britannia biscuits, more fish etc. For powerful claws, Tiger used to scratch my dad’s old scooter Kinetic honda’s seat. Dad used to scold me for that, so I gave newspaper and wood pieces to Tiger for claw strength enhancing. My body strength enhancing experiment was a great success and Tiger was almost double his previous size in a few months.
The Gladiator fight
One fine evening, Pussan came into the backyard of my home. Tiger was eating food and Pussan started hurting him. I was watching this from the corner of my home. At first, I thought to interfere but then I thought it was time to see whether my experiment was really a success or not. I took a stone in my hand just to make sure that if Tiger gets too hurt, I would throw this stone to Pussan’s head.
Pussan’s deadly punches with sharp claws were hard to dodge. Tiger with his Buddhist philosophy of Ahimsa took a lot of punches. My head bowed in shame.
Suddenly I heard a loud sound of revenge, anger and power. Tiger’s first attack which smashed the face of Pussan. It was completely unexpected for both villain and the viewer. Both cats attacked each other and were rolling on the ground. Tiger’s bite with his strong titanium like razor-sharp teeth was too much for Pussan. Pussan’s ego went deep down to earth’s core. He tried his best to make this gladiator fight to a tie, but couldn’t. With his body full of deep wounds, Pussan ran as fast as he could towards his big house.
“Today is the day when good defeated the evil. The Universe has got a new heavyweight champion/superhero,” screamed I with joy and immense pride.
The end days
Years passed by, and Pussan died of old age. Tiger was also nearing his natural death. Tiger lost his energy to chase butterflies.
Tiger started to eat more grass than fish and vomited, a sign that shows a cat is weak and sick. The powerful voice began to fade. Tiger slept more, more than doing anything else. Tiger stopped visiting my room at midnight and preferred sleeping alone in the backyard. Sometimes, when I go to school, Tiger goes to the hilly areas and returns after a few days. One day this happened and since then, Tiger has never returned home. He returned to the place from where he came from — forest.
It has been more than 10years since Tiger is missing. I am a pessimist but when I see the title of a Bollywood film, I become optimistic. That Salman Khan film title is “Tiger Zinda Hai“, which means “Tiger is alive”. Though my brain knows that my pet cat is dead, my heart still believes that he will return one day.
— THE END —