Kingini has a story to tell though she is only a
kitten still, less than 4 months old. She was born in a hole on the wall of a
land terrace far away from all human presence. Her mother (whom Maggie named
Kiki because whenever she was hungry she came outside our kitchen and produced
a feeble noise, ‘ki-ki’) had had a lot of traumatic experiences earlier. She
lost all her kittens in the previous two parturitions. Dogs and humans did that
to her, I learnt later. It is from a person who worked in the farms that I came
to know about Kiki’s last kittening. “There are two kittens,” the person told
me. This person felt pity for them and made the hole as secure from nature’s
furies as she could with the help of leaves and twigs.
Kiki was a nobody’s cat. She came
from somewhere, slept in one house, birthed in another, and ate from our house.
Having lost all her kittens two times successively, she chose to give birth
this time far away from all hostile elements of the manmade world.
Then the rains started. The kittens
were just about two weeks old. Monsoon in Kerala can be merciless. Incessant
downpours accompanied with intermittent winds that uproot trees whimsically.
Kiki and her kittens became a pain in my consciousness. Soon enough, Kiki and
her kittens made their home on my terrace which is roofed with tin sheets. I
imagined Kiki bringing those two kittens one by one by holding them by the
scruff of their neck, walking over 100 metres from her hole to my house, daring
the rains perhaps or when the rains abated, walking with a determination that
is more canine than feline, climbing up the sloping landscape, up my outdoor
staircase, jumping over the parapet wall still holding her little kitten
between her teeth, making a home with the empty Amazon cartons I had dumped on
the terrace… I discovered Kiki and her little family when I went to spread out
our washed linen on the drying lines there as I do every morning. My first
reaction was admiration for Kiki. I loved her all the more because she had
chosen my house ignoring two others on her way.
The kittens were not quite chuffed
with my presence on the terrace. They scooted on seeing me. I decided to ignore
them because that was the best I could do in the given situation. I had to keep
a distance from them. Accepting me as a friend was their choice. They would
learn one day that not everything around them was hostile, as their mother had
learnt. They would learn that the world has something more to offer than a
moist hole and the creepy winds in the rain.
They were scared. Terribly so. I
sensed their scare in my pulse. They grew up and started moving around on the
terrace, but they ran away and hid themselves as soon as I appeared on the
terrace. I let them be hoping that the fear was temporary.
Then, one morning, one of the kittens
vanished. It wasn’t there anywhere on the terrace. I went to school as usual
and returned in the evening. One of the first things I did on returning from
school was to check for the missing kitten. It wasn’t there anywhere. Probably,
some predator had come in the night and carried it away. There are civets and
other such creatures that come and go in the night. I am blessed to be living
in a village that hasn’t lost the ancient wildness yet from the landscapes.
Even cats can be a threat to other
cats. There is one cat whom I named Modiji that used to come along stealthily
from the feral darkness of nights and attack my cats savagely for no reason.
Modiji was a nightmare not only for my cats but also for me because my beloved
Bob was driven away by Modiji’s lethal attacks. Of late, Modiji is not seen. A
neighbour told me that someone might have done him in since he had become a
threat in too many places.
Back to Kiki’s story who lost one of
her kittens again in spite of all the pains she had taken for their security. The
surviving kitten became even more terrified than ever. I never saw it except as
a flash. It scooted into the security of the cartons which Kiki had arranged
quite smartly into a labyrinthine fortress upsetting the orderliness that had always
existed on my terrace.
Even hunger didn’t bring the kitten
down from the terrace. It was when she was two months old that I decided to
feed her on the terrace. I carried food and left it in a secure area of the
slant-roofed terrace. She devoured the food greedily as I watched her secretly
from behind a wall. It took almost a month more for her to accept me as her potential
Now she has descended from the
terrace. She lives with my other cats and gets along pretty well too. She is
still scared of humans including me. But I know it won’t take long for her to
forget the old ordeals and scars. Cats are not as irredeemable as humans.
Kingini is the name Maggie bestowed
on her affectionately.
PS. This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon
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