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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Strange Visitor

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We have been living on rent in the ground floor of a double storied building for about six months. Earlier, we had been living in the back part of a house with our lovely dog, Jerry – a stray dog adopted by my son. But it was due to hatred of the house owner, his family disputes or our fortunes that one day he had asked us to leave the house. The owner of the new house we are living in now lives with his wife in the first floor. The house-lady (as I may call her here), a retired IAS officer’s daughter and a housewife, is a disciplinarian with a tight pattern of behavior. She likes ornamental plants but hates animals and birds. She hates the sight of even countable grains of rice or wheat scattered on the floor due to some or the other reason. She hates to see grains on the floor because grains invite birds.On the other hand, we all in the family tend to scatter grains in side and peaceful areas of the campus to invite house sparrows at least, if not bigger birds like pigeons and mynas. My wife says – frequent visits and chirping of birds in a campus brings happiness and vitality to the family living in the house. So we use to scatter grains on flower beds and undersides of bushes whenever we know that none of the couple is at home.

One month after our arrival in this new rented flat, and after we arranged our belongings in the house, strange incidents started happening in the surrounding one by one. First, we had to get rid of the four feet high Jatropha plant that was planted by my son one year ago, and being landless we could not plant it firmly in the ground to keep alive before our eyes , my son’s beloved plant and to see the same growing into a tree. Thus the second, the third and many more incidents followed in queue.

One day the milk man bringing milk to the house owner, left the gate open and a goat that used to rest in the shadow of the gate entered into the campus with her four children and ate away all the leaves of plants standing happily near the gate. The goat family ate away the leaves of the religious Shami plant we have planted in a pot, and even chewed its twigs also.In the evening, when the house lady stepped down to visit plants on her usual round, she was stunned to see plants nearby the gate standing sadly without single leaf. She started making lots of noise and scolding the air – “I have already warned many times that anyone who lives on the ground floor has his sacred responsibility to see that the gate is shut all the time. See, what happened to these plants. It takes time and efforts in raising plants to see them bloom”.

My wife, who remains scared of her voice, came out and told her to the best of her knowledge and belief that the milk man had left the gate opened. Things settled somehow within half an hour after a lecture session on the art of living a good life. In this way, some of the strange problems came one by one and we could solve all of them with all our humbleness and courtesy. But this was not the end.

One day, to the pleasure of our children, a white cat visited our house and met my elder daughter at the back gate. Gazing right into her eyes she mewed something that was soon translated by her as – “May I come in Miss.?” She announced the good news and the translated version of the cat’s voice loudly so that it may be heard by everyone present in the house. Nearly everyone rushed to the spot to see the visitor. But someone of us performed in such a way that the cat became sad and it turned back slowly. She jumped up the boundary wall and again jumped down to visit some other house. Disagreed with the translation done earlier, my younger daughter said, “Cats don’t know about any sense like Miss., Mr., Madam, or Sir. But it was good that she took permission as you say.“And, if there is no one to request for permission, she can speedily run into the kitchen and steal all the milk we have…” remarked my son.
Days passed on and on when one day my daughter brought news and read it loudly – The cat in our house has given birth to three lovely kittens.

Every one rushed to see the new born babies but no one dared to go closer as the mother cat was there. Some photographs were taken by the mobile phone camera of 3.2 megapixels of which I am a proud owner. The cat and the kittens could no longer remain protected against the eyes of the house lady. She ordered her gardener to remove the problem as soon as he could. The gardener chased the cat but kittens managed to hide themselves in the places left among the closely placed flower pots and did not come out for a very long time. Now, every one except my family was sure that the cat family had moved out. At night around 8 P. M. my daughter came to me and whispered into my ear – “the cat with its all the kitten is sitting under the shade. She has brought a big field rat for their children.”
We had to attend a series of marriages in our native state and so we had to go soon. We all moved after closing all the doors and windows within two days of the incident. After taking part in the social commitments, we all came back after twenty days. On the next day of our arrival the house lady stepped down to see us. Soon after some formal talks, she burst out –“Has anyone of you seen the cat family since you people arrived here?”

“No, not at all” – I replied.

“I do perfect whatever I do”.

“You are right Ma’m”- said my younger daughter.

“Soon after you people departed for there, I employed two tough and clever boys to eradicate the problem. They worked hard the whole day and drove away the cat. They caught the entire three kittens in a jute sac and ...” Continued the lady when my elder daughter interrupted – Did they kill the kittens?

“No, no. They carried them up to a very long distance of about ten to fifteen kilometers and left them there. Now they may be disturbing some other family. What of that, we have got rid of the menace” the lady concluded.None of us could think or speak a word about the act of bravery the lady had managed earlier.

“What might have happened to the poor kittens? They were not so clever or strong enough, to protect themselves from dogs. I guess that the boys might have killed them by suffocating them inside the sac. God should have saved the poor things. What wrong were they doing to the lady? I myself could wash their latrines on the doormats. See what I have done so far”, said my elder daughter. She showed two doormats and one bed cover she had cleaned earlier without informing us about it.

Two days passed in sorrow. On the third day, when my elder daughter was sitting in the backyard, the cat appeared and sat close to her. It looked very sad. As the girl was studying something, she could not see the cat. But, when she stood up and turned up for something she saw it. The cat mewed something thrice in the lowest pitch, waited for some time and went away slowly. Some hours passed. In the evening when I was getting ready to go for a walk, my elder daughter almost rushed to me and whispered loudly into my ear – The cat came to me, asked me if she could bring her kittens, I nodded in affirmation, and see … she is now here with all her children.” She was nearly jumping with joy.

“But how could you understand that the cat was asking you if she could bring her kittens here?” – said my younger daughter.“Translation”- she replied.

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