Pets are domestic or tamed animals. They are kept for pleasure or for the sake of company. Whatever may be their size or breed, they evoke warm and nostalgic memories. They make us smile by bringing in joys. By their sheer nature, they work as stress busters. Unlike human beings, they are trust worthy and loyal. We give them little time, spend an insignificant portion of our income on them, yet, they are large hearted in giving returns.
Pets have been part and parcel of the human civilisation. They have been found working hand in hand with the mankind both in win and loss situtaions. Besides being inseparable members of many a household, their emotions, affection and sense of attachment is truly noticeable if one is away from them for long durations. Their sense of belonging can be felt and experienced only when we spend some quality time with them. Upon developing a particular rapport, they begin asserting and demanding. Sometimes they show the same tantrums as non vocal infants.
Subsequent to adjusting to a particular location or a family, it is hard for them to get used to an alien setting or a new group. In the event of any change, they express their anguish in no uncertain terms. At times, it is silent. They tend to give up food or continuously search for familiar surroundings or the old mates and masters.
The earliest memory of a pet I have, concerns a locality dog named Tipu Sultan. Since he was fed and looked after by more than one family, he could not be considered a pet in the usual sense of the term. I along with my siblings seemed to have developed a certain fondness for him. A black and white dog of medium built, Tipu would occasionally turn ferocious at fellow dogs, hens, cats, cows and buffaloes, who would dare to enter his territory. While protecting the people of the area he would, invariably resist the entry of strangers, more so, at night. His loyalty to the families of the area and affection shown to the tiny tots earned him goodwill.
He was entitled to the delicious meals during the festivals, marriages and birth anniversaries. Though he was fed all kind of food opposite various houses, he will be always be present at the entrance of our house early in the morning or when we would call it a day. During the course of the day, he will find out ample time for rest and relaxation.
Tipu had the unusual strength and determination to bear the summer heat, intermittent rainfall and biting cold conditions. As teenagers, we would often innocently wonder as to how he could manage to withstand the vagaries of nature without wearing clothes. Tipu was very fond of running behind the speeding vehicles, more so, during the Durga Puja holidays when as a result of diversion of route of some town buses, peace and tranquillity of our locality would get disturbed. One by one, Tipu’s legs would get hurt during the chase and run. Despite our wish, nobody would take him to a Vet. By grace of God he would get cured in the natural way in no time. When he would limp, all of us would feel profusely for him.
A time came when Tipu became rather old to carry forward his antics. While chasing a heavily loaded truck on a misty winter evening, he received irreparable injuries. Two of his legs were fractured. It made him immobile for weeks. Even in this condition, he will refuse to vacate a portion of the road. A time came when he began declining food. His pots would be full of milk and wastefood but he stopped even looking at the eatables. Early in the morning of a Sunday prior to the Holi festival, Tipu was found dead. From some elders, we ascertained his age. He lived an active life of twelve years. Very few persons gathered when we arranged his burial in the adjacent jail field.
With the passage of time, Tipu was replaced by a light brown coloured dog named Tiger. In his infancy, he was a cute Puppy. By nature, he was shy but performance wise, he fell short of our expectations. He could not fit into the shoes of Tipu. In order to hone up his skills, Dabloo would take him for jogging every now and then. But Tiger was unresponsive. As a result, the unwanted animals and ruffians began having gala time. His fervent desire to have food without doing anything in return gave him a parasite kind of reputation. No one, therefore, took note of or expressed grief when he was crushed one day by a high speed bus.
Lucy, in contrast to Tipu or Tiger belonged to a superior pedigree. She became our exclusive pet by design. She was born to an Alsatian father and an Indian mother. A lot of care was taken in bringing her up. Thanks to our profound affection and fondness, she became a roly poly. As her performance was getting affected, we were, advised to give her a balanced diet according to a fixed time schedule. To begin with, she would survive on chapati and milk. It was gradually supplemented by pieces of mutton two to three times a week.
Each time we would enter the compound, Lucy would bark. In no time, upon knowing our identity, she would jump in absolute jubilation. Very often, she would leap forward right upto the chest level. It was always a pleasure to throw rubber balls at her and wait for her prompt reaction. At the end of such performances, she would be entitled to tasty sweet biscuits.
Outside animals and unfamiliar human beings would figure in her ‘negative list’. On more than one occasion, theft and house breaking were prevented due to her robust and alert nature. Her strong olfactory sense always worked to our advantage. Though she would not venture to harm anybody, once’ identification parade’ was complete, it was always considered desirable to put her on leash during a pooja or social event at home.
Once she fell sick. She gradually lost her appetite and resultantly, her stamina and charm. Each one of us got disturbed. We tried our level best to go to the root of her problem. At last on the advice of a family friend, we lifted her on a scooter and consulted a Veterinary Doctor. After a thorough check up, he found something wrong in her stomach. She was prescribed liquid medicines and restricted diet. Though she began responding to the treatment, administering her medicines was a herculean task. As a result of our prayers and care, she recovered within ten days or so.
In the meanwhile, in order to stand respectfully on my own feet, I had to migrate to New Delhi. With my shifting, contact with Lucy became a six monthly affair. But I won’t forget to ask her welfare through the weekly letters addressed to Amma. During the peak summer of 1989,when I visited home, no one greeted me at the gate. The familiar jump of Lucy was missing. Something was amiss. Within no time, on my insistence, the sad news of Lucy’s demise two days ahead of my arrival was broken to me. I was deeply upset. Without having water or tea ,I went straight to Lucy’s den. There was a pin drop silence. Closing my eyes, I prayed for the well being of her soul with a heavy heart. Late in the evening, I ate something not because I had to, but because I had to overcome the fatigue of the long train journey.
It is after a lapse of almost 19 years since the demise of Lucy that Tom the cat entered our life. She is incidentally the first pet of my family of procreation. Late in the evening of 30th July 08, she was sighted wandering aimlessly in the green belt behind the Kaveri hostel of J.N.U.I fell for her at the first sight. She showed no signs of resistance when I began touching her. I was therefore encouraged to lift her in my lap. Thereafter, in the good company of Thaks, we began a gentle stroll towards the Administrative Block. The first ten minutes, she maintained silence. When she got an inkling of friendly captivity, she began making little bit of noise. Her sharp nails became active in my chest region. Somehow, I retreated and could succeed in convincing D.T. and Ankoor to adopt the cute, quiet cat. Though they nodded, it was not going to be acceptance from within. Thaks also opined that my act would separate her from her mother and that she may miss her familiar surroundings.
I ultimately managed to bring her home. Although she gave tough time to Ankoor on the way, it was he, who named her Tom on being reminded of the famous cartoon serial ‘Tom and Jerry’. Like any other living creature, she took time to adjust. After turning down the offer of a bowl of milk, she spent her first night in the reasonable comfort of our Drawing Room. Next morning, we found her up and roaming fairly early. We were more than satisfied on noticing the empty milk bowl. We were encouraged to offer her more of eatables. At the earliest opportunity, Ankoor initiated a kind of search on the Internet for food habits, likes and dislikes of the cats etc.. We supplemented it by interacting with the people familiar with the cats.
Each passing day became interesting and full of activity. Gradually, our spacious balcony became her happy hunting ground. Herein, she would get ample scope to see all the developments in the neighbourhood and occasionally may have a friendly interface with the newborns of the Pigeon family. On the 10th day, an excellent photo opportunity was provided by her. We clicked and clicked. Later, some of her snaps were sent to relatives and friends all over the world through the Internet. Her bemusing acts, day after day prompted us to buy a Handycam.
The first day when she had to be left alone in the house, we were not only concerned, we were tense as well. Now we frequently go out by leaving Tom only in the company of milk and curd or whatever she relishes. But each day we venture to go out, one can read the feeling of loneliness in her. There is, no way out, however. All attempts to expose her to outside world have failed. She hates noise and heavy traffic. Despite my sincere attempts, I have not been able to create even one interaction session between her and the elderly cats of our premises. Hope she has a rethinking in her own interest.
TOM is predominantly white with large patches of black. Having a black coloured tail, white whiskers, round black eyes, alert and sharp ears, she gives a friendly appearance. She is fond of nibbling things and chewing her favourite tail when she is in a good mood. She uses her long nails to perfection for climbing up the curtains of the house. She maintains balance and weight of her body equally on her four limbs. Apart from liking milk. curd, cheese cubes, ice-cream, pasta, egg, and the Maggie noodles, she expresses her non-vegetarian intentions amply clear, when flies, pigeons and cockroaches are sighted.
D.T. sums up the behaviour pattern and the overall persona of Tom in the following words -“Tom is cute, beautiful, sweet and loving. She is not rude. She is a kind being. We miss her when she is away. She is obedient. Though she sleeps late, she gets up early. She has a good soul. She is the only being in the world who loves me. She eats, whatever is given to her. She is not fussy. She has the pristine touch of heaven. She is pious. She is like a saint. May God give her a happy and long life”