About a year after the wedding, my wife and I moved to a small flat, (apartment, if American). The area of Calcutta known as Lake Gardens sounds delightful. In reality the lake was man made, access to the area was via a congested level crossing of a busy commuter line or a massive detour around through Jodhpur Park. The apartment or flat (flat being less characters to type I shall use that from now on. It also rhymes with cat – the subject of our story, so American readers need only substitute the word “apartment” for the word “flat” whenever it occurs. It will help to watch the context, though. For example, in the sentence “The soda was flat” I do not mean the that the soda was an apartment. Right, now that’s all cleared up, on with the story) had no lake view, in case you’re wondering.
It was on the ground floor, had two rooms, a kitchen and split bath, where the toilet was separated from the shower. I wonder why all baths are not split like that, but, I digress and I see my readers beginning to fidget just a bit. A little metal gate led to a door at the side of the landlord’s house. The door opened directly into the little sitting / dining room. A door at the other end led to the kitchen, the bedroom and the rest of the house. The window to the sitting room overlooked the street outside and a tiny pocket garden separated the window from the side walk.
It wasn’t big, but ’twas enough for a couple of young IT professionals in the mid-twenties. We arrived with two suitcases and the landlord, who lived upstairs allowed us to use the sparse furniture that was already in there. A small dining table that seated 4 and a set of outsize beds. We slept in one and used the other for storing clothes as we had no cupboards.
Now, some of you will point out that this story was supposed to be about a cat, a cantankerous one at that and so far no cats have appeared. And others will say, “I thought you said somewhere that you would never waste your time writing about cats?”.
To the first lot I say, “Patience. A cantankerous cat will appear in due course. A peeping tom, however, appears in a different story with the same setting. So memorize the setting now so the Peeping Tom story becomes easier to read, when I write it and you visit here to read it”.
My response to the second set of objectors is, “Never believe a guy who says never!”.
Now we all know that I am highly allergic to cats. What? You didn’t? Hmmm, in that case may I suggest your read the blog more thoroughly? It is also a fact that my Beloved Bangalan does not care for cats either. She’s not allergic to them, she just shares no affinity with them. A mutual sense of distrust and dislike defines her relationship with cats.
So it was an unpleasant surprise to wake up one day and find a dark grey cat sitting washing itself in our sitting room shortly after we moved in. Shooing it away, we thought no more about it. The next morning and the mornings after the situation was repeated. The cat would show up, wait for us to wake up, find her / him sitting there, wait to be shooed out and then leave.
We tried shutting the windows, but the oppressive heat of Calcutta and lack of air conditioning in our
hovel little slice of heaven drove us crazy.
Finally, we hit upon a method we were convinced would thwart the cat. A lengthy nylon clothesline was obtained. I then used techniques remembered from my Boy Scout days to thoroughly criss-cross the grille of the front window to ensure that no cat could go through while airflow through the window was not restricted. After a thorough inspection we congratulated each other, made another one of our impromptu dinners and went to bed, secure in the knowledge that we would be cat free from now on.
The next morning we woke up, looked at each other and then saw it.
The cat was sitting there on it’s haunches right on the threshold of the door that separated the bedroom from the sitting room. As I jumped out of bed, it leisurely got up and jumped on to the window. We rushed into the sitting room and watched as it slowly and casually gave us a look, squeezed through the nylon lattice and left.
It was my Beloved Bangalan who spotted the first one. There were 6 or 7 of them scattered over various spots in the sitting room. Little black-brown bits of cat crap.
That was the last time we ever saw the cat.