It was a pleasant Saturday morning, and I rode in to Alliance Francaise Chennai to prepare for my first stage play as director – when I got the rude shock. My wife, Shruthi, in a wailing, shaken voice announced that our little cat, Kittu was dead. Found dead in a neighbouring school compound. The watchman had hurled our precious bundle of joy in an empty bush-filled plot nearby.
I took a moment to digest the news and then thought deeply for a few moments more and decided on my feet to prioritise her over the play – to go back home, leaving the responsibilities to a fellow director.
My vision was totally blurry with tears as I cautiously rode through the traffic – as distraught and impatiently as a parent would, rushing home to the news of a dead child.
At home, she wailed even higher, and hugged me tight. We sobbed together for what seemed like cruel eternity. I was shell-shocked. Also, equally surprised – at realising how fragile I was. I thought about how much, as a couple, we had loved that cute furry animal together – in our little corner home. It has been just the three of us since we adopted Kittu from Blue Cross of India, one year after our marriage.
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Our relationship had by that time naturally progressed to a much-cemented, solid marriage – those occasional calls from office, text reminders to pick up vegetables, etc. The only exciting news therefore, became Kittu – and his swift metamorphosis in just a few months from a puking, squeaky kitten to a hop-jump-skip cat.
Every day, we had an exciting piece of news to greet each other with – what Kittu did when the other wasn’t around. When he limped one day, she was inconsolably in tears, and I rushed home sooner than usual to take the cat for an X ray, which revealed just a sprain. We also vaccinated, dewormed, groomed him and ensured that he had enough toys to play with.
When she left for her parents’ place for a week, I took care of him. I guess that is when I started feeling like a parent. Sometimes, the excessive love she gives the cat has made me jealous! I have even complained to her, only to end up hugging the cat for a little while longer.
Whenever we fought, we used him as an interlocutor. When we got mushy, we sent him out though, after feeding him to his full stomach, purring happy!
So, on the day he died, exhausted after all the crying for a few hours, we took off all the way to Blue Cross and spent a few hours petting all kittens we could lay our hands on. The fact that he was like no other, pricked us and we cried some more, deepening the sorrow.
Why him? Just seven months old! Cruel life indeed, we cursed. Then, after a silent, half-finished lunch, we decided to give him a decent burial. After some Googling, we found out that Mylapore cemetery offered space for pets. I picked up the cat’s body from the bush, put him in a shopping bag, and we rode to the place.
On our way back after the burial, we experienced the deepest sorrow of our life together. Her tears drenched my shirt as she hugged me tight, and I remember wailing together ‘Kittooo’ when we had an opportunity – riding through a brief one-kilometre stretch on a flyover, with no one noticing.
After three days, we were now back to normal. Or so we think. We resumed discussions on having our own baby. It has been a plan indeed, for the last few months.
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Another pet? No way. At least not until a century from now. The experience that scorched till our bones with sorrow has brought us closer than ever. We are now flipping through Kittu’s pictures together in bed, as some warmth makes itself felt in our hearts. The warmth of having loved someone unconditionally. He’s like no other! But we have to move on.