Saying Adieu

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Dark brown broken by only one strip of white

Strong enough to fight off

The strongest enemies

Kind enough to protect

Against all who did not know how to love

The little steps followed

The strong voice bellowed

At one sight of a true friend

The heart knew, when no one cared

No one helped

This friend will always be there,

Cuddling, loving, caring

In sickness and in good times.

The look of trust, of utmost love

In those round clear eyes,

Were just enough to tell her

She was the best friend he never had before.

Through the roughest of times,

Coldest of nights,

And piercing pain,

He looked out for her

The soft touch of comforting warmth.

But on one stormy night

When he looked around

The warm hand, the soft touch could not be found

He cowered, fear gripped his heart …

Where is she?

His last breath caught in his throat,

One last time he wanted to bid adieu

To his truest friend, who failed him just then;

Quiet in his pain,

With the last thoughts of his friend

He closed the eyes …

The storm could harm no more, never again.

Love does’nt always need Words

Love

Love

As we walk along the path of life, we come cross many definitions of the word ‘love’. The word has just four letters and yet these four letters are strong enough to keep up alive – sometimes when we are down or depressed and sometimes when we are spend time with our special someone – our parents, partners, siblings, friends or our pets. To me, love is defined by the feeling that is so strong that it overwhelms us and overcomes all other emotions. It is a feeling that makes someone neglected feels they belong somewhere. It is a feeling that touches in more than one way the lives of those who give and those who receive. A very insignificant little being made me realize that love can also evoke humility in our heart – in a strange way that defies all reasons.

Four months ago, just as winter was saying ‘Hi’ to the city of Kolkata, in an abandoned house opposite my residence, three little four-legged sisters were born to a mother who looked much undernourished. The tiny puppies ignored the fact that they did not get fed by their mother and ran around playfully, enjoying the bliss of each others’ company. We felt sorry for the state that they were in and gradually I and my family decided to give them food each day. The mother along with their babies enjoyed the warmth of the food that was offered to them on the cold days and nights. Suddenly, their happiness seemed to disappear little at a time, as one puppy came under the tyres of a car and another suddenly fell very ill and perished within a few weeks. Now, the last puppy was too lonely as she did not have anyone to play with. Her mother seemed to have been in a lot of emotional stress. She missed her lost puppies and gave up eating gradually.

I went close to her and tried to console her in whatever way possible. Slowly she began taking her food again but her health did not recover. The lack of emergency services for animals in my city only added to her woes. I could not get to anyone who could help. For days together I tried to give her little food and medicines that were known to me. One night in February 2015, after having her food, she came close to me and touched my right leg with her head and stood still that way for what seemed a very long time, although it might have been just a few minutes. I felt something being conveyed to me – her pain or loss or gratitude … what was it? I could not understand her silent whispers. All I could do was pet her on the skeletal head and talk a little. By this time, she has turned into a bag of bones and skin, with no flesh or fat. I was too helpless to do anything at all. I prayed that she be either healed or relieved from her distress. And someone up there did listen … only to the last part of my prayer

For the next three days, I did not see her anywhere. I tried to search for her in every nook and corner of the streets and lanes and houses that lined the streets. But it did not help. One day, in the morning of 27th February 2015, I saw her lying still in-front of the gate of my house. I do not know when she breathed her last. But I knew she took her last breath outside my gate. Perhaps, she knew that this was the only place that had a soul that loved her, fed her and petted her. In those moments, she did not have to tell me in words about her feelings for me, but by dragging herself to where she laid still told me in a hundred thousand silent words, that she loved me and she thanked me for all I did for her. She humbled me with this little gesture and her love is something that will remain with me for rest of my life. Since she was a stray, she had no place to go, no one to call her own. Her life was as insignificant to the world as that of a fly, but she has touched a very special place in my heart and she will remain there forever.

A Homeless Lonely Hungry Kitty Finds Home

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On the afternoon of 21st June 2011 I was returning home from my parents’ place knowing that I will not be back for a few weeks now. The drizzle had stopped and I decided to walk home from the main road and I love this walk as this time of the day is usually very peaceful with most people preferring to stay indoors. As I turned round the corner, to my bewilderment I saw a tiny kitten, drenched and shivering and meowing in a small voice – trying frantically to get attention from passersby. But alas! no one cared. My eyes met his, and then in a split second, the poor creature was at my feet, rubbing and meowing and stretching. It was … so very lovely. His grey-black coat was wet and he was shivering from the cold. I didn’t know what to do but something from deep inside asked me to pick him up and there he was, in my arms kneading my palms, reaching for my face as if he has found a long-lost friend, as if he was waiting for me, as if he knew I would pass this way… as if we were destined to meet.

I knew I would face a tough challenge trying to convince everyone at home to keep him…I knew there would be objections but I did not think twice and holding the sweet little bundle in my arms, headed for home. I sneaked into my room, hoping my in-laws would not see the kitten. I offered him some milk. He was terribly hungry and drank most of what was offered to him.. but perhaps due to starvation and dehydration, his tummy soon started giving trouble. I had to take a decision, now that I knew the kitty was  unwell. I spoke to my in-laws but they refused to keep him as they did not want to keep another pet after the death of their beloved German Shepherd.

I could not give the kitty away or leave it on the road knowing so well that he needed me and he was only a month old perhaps and an attachment was already forming between us… I could not let him go!!!! I was in tears as a decision was needed to be made urgently and no one would help. I knew the only way to save his life was to give him to a shelter perhaps but it was already quite late in the evening and none of the shelters would answer calls. So I had to keep the kitty for a night or two until I could find a permanent shelter for him, but how could I keep him?

Making a call to my mom seemed to be the last option and I pinned all my hopes on this. My loving Sandy, my pet cat of 5 years, had passed away last December due to some unknown reason and this had left my entire family emotionally shattered. We had decided that there would be none other to replace her… there will never be any one as beautiful, as loving, as warm, as understanding as Sandy. I was worried that my mom may just say “NO” about keeping this little kitty… even for a day. But somehow, when I told her the details and explained the urgency of the situation, she agreed to keep him for two days. I was overjoyed and soon got a shoe box and after making holes in them, put the little baby inside. I went out immediately and took a cab to my parents’ place.

That entire night and the whole of the next day, the kitten didn’t sleep for a moment as he was too frightened. I sat up whole night; giving him medicines for his troubled tummy and holding him close to keep him warm. He kneaded on my skin and nibbled my ear lobes all the time … perhaps he thought I was his mother! O! How wonderful it was to hold him, to feel his warmth and to know that his shivering has stopped. He was happy to be here, to be with me and my parents.

For the next three days, I tried to contact every friend and shelter manager but luck never favored as everyone refused to take him. Looking at the situation and for the love they felt toward him, my parents eventually decided to keep him. Now, he has got a loving home and very caring parents… he loves my mom’s lap and all the food given to him… he is now a part of my family, a part of me. He enjoys each day as it comes… he is growing up to be extremely playful and affectionate!!! We have named him “REX” but “KUTTU” is what we call him at home as he is so very cute!!!

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I don’t think there is anything in the world as satisfying as giving a homeless a home, someone hungry some food and most importantly, someone unloved, the love that is craved for.

So what change have you made to the world, in your own way? Would love to hear your story.

Gone too Soon: Living without my Best Friend

My Wide Eyed Sandy

My Wide Eyed Sandy

It was a humid monsoon afternoon in June in Kolkata six and a half years ago. The drizzle was warm but soothing and something positive was in the air. A week was still to go before my birthday and I wasn’t anticipating the happenings of the day, which was going to be the most memorable day of my life.

After my class got over, my friend asked me if I would like to visit an acquaintance, whose health was not particularly well. I thought over the matter and finally decided on the positive. The drizzle had stopped briefly and we took a local bus to our destination. As we got off and walked through the labyrinth of narrow lanes that constitutes this area in central Kolkata, I saw numerous kittens and puppies playing happily. The little faces glowing with cheerfulness. I wanted to pick one up and cuddle it (as I usually do) but we were running late. We reached Edwina’s place in another fifteen minutes. At the gate, we were greeted by a sleeping little kitten – the fur was golden, not very fat and seemed to be dreaming of rats. “So cute!!” was what I said when I saw it. As this was my first visit, I was pleasantly surprised to see a team of cats in the house – on the table, under the chair, on the cupboard, sleeping on the television, a few on the bed and underneath too! It was a real treat for a cat lover like me.

After having inquired after Edwina’s health, we were ready to leave. Suddenly someone tapped on my shoulder. It was Edwina’s sister, Flory, who had by then, placed an orange colored basket beside me. I looked at my friend in bewilderment and then at the basket. Inside I saw the same little golden kitten I had seen at the gate. It looked at me with wide brown eyes. I was in loss for words and on looking at my friend again, I was told that the kitten was my birthday gift!! I couldn’t believe my birthday gift could be so beautiful – a kitten named ‘Sandy’.

Perhaps she was unhappy that day, having to leave her birthplace and home – I will never know. But I was happy – incredibly happy. She was my first pet. Although, I had longed to keep a cat in the house, ever since I was little, my wish was granted only after all these years. It was a blessing brought to me by the little drizzle drops from the heavens above. I had always been so lonely, being the only child of parents- with no siblings to play or quarrel with or no pets to hold close. My loneliness found a way out and in came a feeling so joyous, brought by my little Sandy.

She cried and cried and cried all the way to my place. I didn’t know how to console her, didn’t know if she would ever like me. I bought some milk and hoped she was like it. Accompanying this feeling of happiness was a thought of the unexpected. I dreaded the reaction of my parents, as they never wanted a pet. “It is too much of a responsibility”, they would always say. At last, I reached home and showed my new gift to my parents, who were astounded. As I opened the basket, Sandy leaped over and ran to the balcony for her first poop in my house. My parents were angry at the unexpected turn of events, but still were amazed to see that Sandy was trained already for her toilet requirements!

We spent hours observing her as she spent her hours looking around, trying to get familiar with everything new. I knew she missed her home – “It would take time”, I told myself. She cried and meowed relentlessly and when I tried to cuddle her, she would jump off my lap. Perhaps she didn’t like me! That night I made a bed for her beside mine, but around mid-night, I could not find her anywhere. I was scared, very scared and wondered if I lost her or she has died. The next morning, I searched everywhere with a torchlight, and there she was – behind a cupboard – snoring!! What a cute sight that was! Wish I had my camera ready back then. She had little food that morning. Around afternoon, she started playing with everything small – paper balls, strings and bells – anything she could find. She explored the house and began climbing up to the bed, on cupboards and on the T.V. Then she would slip and fall and roll over and jump up again. We could not stop ourselves from laughing our hearts out, trying to keep up with all her mischievous ways. I could not help myself from adoring her – her tiny soft paws, her pink nose, her large brown eyes, the golden sand-colored coat, and the little white socks on her hind legs and the white triangle on her neck.

Sandy on the Cupboard

Sandy on the Cupboard

That night, as I sat on the bed combing my hair, she came close with a tiny soft “Meow” and climbed up on my lap for the first time – sitting and purring with her eyes half closed. I was truly, most happily surprised. She had accepted me – as her friend and companion. She gave me a new life away from my loneliness. Sandy came to me as a bundle of joy, taking a little step at a time into my deserted heart. Then she lay on my lap with her face toward me – her paw playing away with my curls and slowly dozing off in my arms wrapped with my love. Now, all the curls remain, paws that played with them are missed terribly in so many ways.

Time went by and she grew in size … she was my child and I was happy to see her grow. My lap was where she preferred to sleep – my lap it was that gave her peace in pain during all those terrible nights of illness. She looked at me with her ever wide eyes to know if I understood what she felt. She understood that I knew it all, the very moment she looked at me. For nights together, I would hold her close, to let her know that I loved her and needed her no matter what; to let her know I knew her pain and something cut inside of me every time she cried.

I saw my little Sandy growing up … from a toddler into a beautiful teenager. She had her fan following too. It was a scene right out of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Sandy would sit at the window, while beneath the window, on the terrace of our neighbor sat her beau – a fat white cat, who sat their all night singing sweet songs of love, admiring his beautiful lady. We were much like any conservative family and would never let our pretty princess step out of the house. We did now know that the wooing of her lover was too much for our beloved princess to resist. One early morning, when all were sleeping, my Sandy eloped by jumping off from the window of our flat on the fourth storey. We spent sleepless nights and agonized days searching everywhere for her. But we did not get any trace. After 10 long days, my dad spotted Sandy on a nearby road and when he called out for her, she ran to him, jumping onto his lap at once! How merciful God is, we all thought and thanked heavens for bring our Sandy back to us.

A few months went by and she looked healthier and prettier than ever before. One evening, as she sat on my lap while I stroked her, I noticed something strange. Something was moving inside her tummy!!! I was awestruck when I realized that my baby was pregnant with her babies!! I could not hold back my joy and declared it to the world. My friends told me they were eager to take the kittens once they were born. Sandy grew closer to us those days, never stepping out of the house, preferring to sleep on my lap. She was only 10 months old on 4th February 2007 when she gave birth to a litter of four kittens. I had missed witnessing the birth as I was on my way back from office. When I entered the house, the proud mother came out of the corner where she had just given birth and called out to me. I was amazed as I realized that she wanted me to go close to her and see her babies – we could read each other’s mind so well!! I did as she wanted me to and I saw them, little pink kittens too delicate to move. Sandy looked at me with love and extreme pride as I stroked her head and purred to her heart’s content as the babies fed.

My new job as a granny began as I, with my mom’s endless assistance, started to take care of the babies of my baby. They grew so fast and healthy – playing, rolling, screaming, loving, eating and sleeping. My world was centered on them and nothing else in the world mattered. This is when, we realized that Sandy will always get pregnant and our house was too small to keep more than one cat at a time. Her vet advised on neutering Sandy and one day in May, she was taken away to the hospital, while her kittens – Jelly Belly, Bitty Kitty, Popcorn and Bon Bon – were given away. It was one of the saddest of all the sad days that were yet to come.

Sandy stayed at the hospital for about 4 weeks, during which, she did not wish to meet any one of us. She was heartbroken – her trust in us was broken perhaps. She refused to eat well and only slept quietly and in sadness. She did not know, till then, that all her kittens were gone. When she was brought back, she looked scared, sad and lonely. Had she taken away my loneliness into her life? Perhaps, yes. She searched everywhere for her kittens. She cried for hours and refused to eat. For the first time, I was unable to read the hollow expressions of her eyes – she came to me and cried, she called me and took me to all the corners where she had lived with her babies. I was helpless and did not know how to console her in her time of utter agony. There was an untold madness about her as she began going out and staying outdoors for hours – sometimes for two to three nights at a stretch. I could not believe that we had done this to our baby but this was a point of no return.

Sandy Sleeping

Sandy Sleeping

Things started deteriorating from this time onward. Sandy would come home on certain nights bleeding from paws as her claws had got ripped off. The bloody and painful nights seemed endless. Suddenly she started losing weight alarmingly. She would cough and sneeze and get terrible breathing problems. The wheezing never stopped and I spent several nights giving medication and holding her close. She would look at me with those same hollow expressions – now with touch of profound sadness and pain. But despite it all, she never forgot to give me company during my bad times, heartbreaks and illness. She would sleep with her face close to mine when I cried; she let me hold her for hours almost taking in all the fears inside; she licked my cheeks when they were wet with tears. She was always the truest friend – knowing exactly what I felt, comforting through the gravest of times, when the world turned its back on me.

One night she could not breathe or eat or jump or walk. We rushed her to her vet the next morning. She was diagnosed with acute dehydration and the worst form of asthma along with a condition of the heart. He said, “Had you not brought her at this time, she would have died within 3 hours”. I was shocked to know that my baby’s condition was so serious. She had to be put on saline and numerous intravenous injections for a week, before she got up again. Her health made her unhappier and she stopped playing. She looked out of the window for hours and slept for most of the remaining time, although, she was as affectionate toward us as she always had been. We could not stop her from going out, and this made matters worse.

After a year and a half of the diagnosis, my wedding date was fixed and somehow, Sandy realized that I was going to leave her. She would stay close to me as she tried to convey something that I could not understand. I knew my parents would be able to take care of her. But, I had to leave her and this was something I could not evade. Then at last, the day was there and as I was being adorned with ornaments and my face was being painted with make-up, Sandy never left my side even for a moment. She looked and looked and looked at me, sometimes staring strangely. She could sense the importance of the day and it made her sad and aloof. The look in her eyes I shall never forget. When we left the house for the venue, she cried for a long time. But I could not turn back. I could not look at her. It was too painful a moment for any of us to bear.

From that day onward, for each day that went by, Sandy waited for me at the door – waited for me to pick her up and love her like I did. She looked terribly sad and extremely happy at once, every time I went home. She felt my absence every moment, and my mom used to say – “Sandy doesn’t go to your room any more. She stays with us all the time. It’s only when you come back does she go with you to the room to be able to be close with you”.

I prayed for her and health every day. On the Christmas Eve of 2010, I had decided to attend the mid-night mass with my husband. That evening, Sandy behaved strangely – she sat beside me all the time and meowed continuously. She kept looking into my eyes. Again, I failed to read those expressions. I got ready to leave for the Christmas Mass and then, suddenly, Sandy wouldn’t let me go. She stood at the door, pulling at my clothes, as if to drag me inside. She longed to stay in my lap. But unfortunately, I had to let her go, I had to put her down and leave. As I sat in the Church as the clock struck 0000 hours and the Reverend announced Christmas and wished us all, I prayed for my Sandy’s good health and long life and companionship with me.

Two days later, at 00.30 hours on 27th December 2010, when I was at my in-laws, my phone rang. It was my dad on the other side. All I heard him say was, “Sandy has left us forever”. I could not believe my ears then, I cannot believe those words now after two long years. I could not come to terms with the brutal fact that my best friend had left me at the age of five, without having me by her side; without letting me hold her one last time.  Sandy went away leaving me forever in the deepest sadness and loneliness of all. The everneverness of this emptiness can never be filled by anyone ever.

Karuna Kunjo - The pet cemetery, where Sandy rests now

Karuna Kunjo – The pet cemetery, where Sandy rests now

As we drove to the cemetery the next morning, with me holding Sandy on my lap – her eyes no more wide with wonder, her paws motionless, her nose not so pink, her body no more soft – I could not help but feel guilty – utterly guilty for not having been able to do anything for her; for having left her to deal with her loneliness when I married; for not having understood her completely; for not being able to be the best friend that she always has been and forever will be even in her absence. The loneliness I feel now is the punishment I deserved for, perhaps, not loving her enough.

But I know she will be with me, in every breath I take, in every beat of my heart, in everything I do, at every turn and every step. Sandy will shine forever through all the darkest nights, and stay with me till the end of my time. I will wait every moment and all the lifetimes, for her to return, to come back to me – not as anything else, but only my ever sweet Sandy.