I am taking you back to my childhood days my dear friends. My brother and I were like any other school going children in our lane. But we were very special and honourable because we had with us four cute kittens to play with. Keeping a pet cat was a long run tradition in our family beginning from the time when our forefathers might had seen a little mice running freely from this room to that.
Somabari (the one born on a fine Monday) was the grandmother of our kittens. She was a great huntress but was equally ill famed for spoiling the milk pot many a times by directly putting mouth into it. One day she disappeared from our house. She was an expected mother then. All searched every nook and corner of our house for where she could be. One fine Thursday morning with a different sound of howling she was cat-walking at the center of our house. She had with her a new born kitten in her mouth delicately held by the neck of the kitten. She had given birth to five kittens at once in our neighboring house. Why she preferred one among them to be with us and why she didn't bring all her kittens to our home was a mystery for me then. But in a later time I could well understand why Somabari did injustice to one of her kittens. I felt envious with our neighboring family as our Somabari preferred their house to be perfect for upbringing of her kittens. As the lonely kitten was there, she visited thrice or four times to feed her milk. And rest of the time the poor kitten was lonely. So we siblings had to take good care for her, starting from feeding her cow's milk with a dropper to changing the cloth meant to be her bed. It was a great feeling of motherly service for us. As the kitten came to our house on Thursday, we called her Gurubari. She was white except black patch on one side of her head just like her mother Somabari.
Gurubari was a very good natured cat. She had vegetarian traits as we family members. Non veg food like fish, meat and eggs were strictly prohibited in our family on religious ground. So the only source of non veg food was self arrangement, either by preying a rat or by managing to eat at neighboring houses where fish was cooked very often. When Somabari was staying regularly at our home there were no rats as she haunted every last rat before it could make plans to save its life. But surprisingly when her daughter Gurubari began to grow by age as a young, strong and pretty cat, the number of rats began to grow day by day. Rats became so fearless that they didn't hesitate to sit alongside Gurubari. Her mother was growing old day by day. She visited very often our house to prey rats but she had not that youthful energy that she had in the past after becoming mother of a whole platoon of cats by then. She had become like a leader, a serious grand mother. Whenever she came to our house, besides haunting a rat she made a big fight with her daughter Gurubari whose bizarre behaviour of indifference towards rats she never had thought of. I guess, through her extra cat sense she had a doubt on haunting career of that special child, that is the reason why she separated her from her siblings just after her birth so that her bad influence would not spoil her other pure cats. So thus happened what she ever desired. Gurubari though was a worthless cat in the eyes of her mother, she was very happy, healthy in our home. Why not? She was the fortunate one rather than her siblings to relish all the delicious sweets made of pure ghee, cheese and milk that our father used to bring from Jagannath temple every evening. Whatever we ate, she had a fair share. She loved Ghee-rice or milk-rice most along with smashed potatoes as her regular diet. Beside that her digestive system had accepted all the green vegetables and Dal those our mother cooked at home.
Such a healthy and lovely cat she was who won't have liked to be her friend! One day she was found roaming with a male cat supposedly her boy friend. We were not allowing an unknown male cat to roam freely like Gurubari in our home because male cats make a strange sound like a crying baby and also they have a bad habit of frequent urination. Few days passed. Our Gurubari gave birth to four kittens in our home. That was the happiest day, a day of celebration when we explored Gurubari for the first time cleaning them by licking and feeding them. The kittens became the apple of our eye. We siblings took every effort for their comfort and entertainment. It was also a great challenge for us besides her own mother to protect them from the savage baboons who notoriously steal kittens in the absence of their cat mothers.
We had a long discussion on the topic of what names would be chosen for the kittens. Among them three were male and only one was a female kitten. One, having dark couloured fur was named Kalu, one white with black patched kitten was named Chiku and the female kitten was named Chikki. We remained undecided naming the last kitten until a distance cousin once visited us. She named the kitten 'Cheuka' quite befitting to it's hyperactive behavior and unmanageable look.
Actually the hero of our story is Chikki, the cute little girl kitten of Gurubari and grand daughter of Somabari. Grandmaa once came to see what was happening there at her daughter's place. She nosed out the kittens separately and then went away. All the kittens grew day by day. Unlike their mother all of them were good hunters. Together they chased after small insects and cockroaches. Chiku and Kalu were able catch small rats and made a feast with that. Only Chikki had no interest in the feast. She was satisfied with her usual vegetarian diet. Her fur was so soft to touch that many a times it appeared to be a soft toy made of very costly imported fur. We had pretty enjoying time with our kittens. Friends from neighborhood and classmates started flocking around to see our kittens playing. And we felt proud caretakers and owners of the lovely kittens. One day a terrible fate did happen to Cheuka. A giant monkey mom took it to a tree branch.. It is said the childless monkey moms steal kittens and treat them as their own child. But at last their motherly love takes away lives of poor kittens. We were very sorry for Cheuka.
When smell of fish came from other houses, Kalu and Chiku became so crazy that ultimately they left our house. Chikki became lonely and seemed missing her brothers. But she never went outside in search of more delicious food. Gurubari was still their and loving her good daughter who was quite like her. Now we should come to the point that how Chiki became a hero. One cloudy evening we were playing on our terrace. It was the rainy season. So playing on terrace was a special joy. Suddenly we heard a howling noise. Never could Chikki make such noise, we expected another cat instead. We ran towards downstairs. It was Chikki only whose hair stood just like that of a porcupine. She was making strange noise by raising her nose and projecting her sharp teeth. What was the matter? That was something of concern indeed. We called our mother. By then Chikki jumped on something. Really, that was a snake. Our eyes were wide opened. O my God! Chikki was fighting with a snake. Our mother dragged us to a little distance. Father was away from home. All of us were stammering out of fear. But surprisingly little Chikki was so brave! The snake tried to curl Chikki with it's stout muscles. But Chikki escaped every time due to her super swiftness. It jumped back and forth. The snake hissed terribly. The fight continued for long fifteen minutes. At last Chikki got hold of the neck of the snake by her sharp teeth.The snake died. Chikki took her prey away with pride as if she has caught a big mouse! We were surprised. Chikki's heroic act did spread like wild fire among our friends and known people. I would say Chikki was an angel cat.
Not only human but animals, plants and everything on this earth we have to be grateful. We should say our gratitude to all who help us and love us and make our life beautiful. In my memory Chikki would be alive forever whom even today I say my gratitude silently within heart...