An ode to a cat I forgot to hug. And now I never can.

Sometime last year, going to school became easier. There was no resistance from Re, no stress in the mornings about getting him ready, and making it on time for the bus.

The reason was a cat named Harry.

We first spotted him sitting atop a sack of potatoes, just outside the sabziwala at the stop the school bus would pick up Re from.


harry sackVery soon, Re and Harry became friends. He woke up every morning, eager to go to school, as he had to ‘check what Harry was doing’. Or where was he sitting today. Bidding Harry goodbye before boarding the school bus became a ritual.

harry 1harry 2And just like that, a cat made my life a wee bit easier. It had happened before too, and I can’t be grateful enough.

There were other animals, Sheroo and Sher Khan, who added more drama to our morning ritual, but Harry always remained special. Harry was Re’s friend, he named him, he called out to him, Harry always responded. For once, I was just a passive observer. Re and Harry had a relationship that needed no intervention.

And sometime last week, Harry went missing. We didn’t see him one day, and asked the sabziwala. He told us Harry was unwell, and a kind girl who loved animals had taken him to the doctor. Every day after that, Re and I would get ready, and make a dash for the bus stop, earlier than usual, hoping to see Harry. He wasn’t there. On day five, I knew something was wrong; the sabziwala told me Harry was in hospital with a kidney failure. He had no number for the girl who took him, so all I could do was wait for more news and pray that all would be well in the end. Today, he finally told me that Harry didn’t make it.

I was shattered. Re still wanted to know why Harry didn’t come to play, but by now, he had made friends with Sheroo and Sher Khan. I decided not to bring him up and waited till Re boarded the bus to cry a silent cry.  I should have hugged Harry. I so should have. But for now, all I can do is write a little ode:

RIP, Harry.
You made potatoes look so cool.
You made the morning bus a ritual to look forward to, as Re and I would gaze at your beauty endlessly and wonder what you were thinking.
You lent gravitas to vegetables, as you picked a favorite everyday. The Sabziwala misses you too.
You gave new meaning to the “truth about cats and dogs”. Sheroo (dog) and Sher Khan (dog) have lost anchor without your disdainful gaze at them every morning.
Did I tell you how beautiful you were? But then, you already knew it, you rascal.
Go, have fun with the angels. Send some pixie dust our way too.
Next time, I will always remember to hug the thing I love when it’s in front of me.

My first short story: The Lion who loved strawberry oatmeal

(So I wrote this for a friend’s child and boy, I have never been so nervous!)

Onceupatime, there was a Sheep called Purple. He had purple wool, because when he was a little baby, one day he went to play Holi with some children in his building.  He saw these big mounds of color that the children had heaped up to play color-color with, and he got really excited. He really liked the purple mountain, so he decided to roll in it. He did, and when he came out, he was all purple. When he went home that day, his mama said, “Go have a bath quickly, otherwise you will be purple for the rest of your life.” He said, “But I like being purple. Can I stay like this only?”

“Okay, if that’s you want. But people can be annoying, and they will keep asking you why you are purple. So you better watch out.”

And that is exactly what happened. Every time, Purple went out to play, or to eat grass and shrubs (which he did very often), all the goats, pigs, cows, horses, ducks and geese on the farm always asked him, “But why are you purple?” “Your mama and dada are both white. Isn’t that odd?”

One day, Purple got fed up of this constant questioning, so he decided to wander off to the jungle to make some new friends. By the time he reached the jungle, it was night time, and he was tired and hungry, so he found a nice warm cave and went and slept in it. In the morning he woke up, stretched himself nicely, and as was his habit, called out to his mom,

“Mommeeeee, I want to eat something. Can we have strawberry oatmeal?”

He didn’t see or hear his mommeee. Instead he heard a rather gruff voice.

“Grrrr… who is this mommeee who makes strawberry oatmeal?” the voice said. It was a LION!  A HUGE LION, WHOSE HAIR COVERED ALL OF HIS FACE AND EARS AND FOREHEAD AND ALMOST HIS EYES!

Purple was very scared, but he remembered what his mommee said. “Don’t be afraid of anyone, even if they are much bigger or louder than you. Be calm, and you will always be ok.”

“Oh, that’s my mommee in the farm, she makes the most yummy strawberry oatmeal. Slurp slurp…!”

“Really,?” said the Lion. “Can I also have some?”

“Yes, sure, I can take you home, my mommeee will make some for you.” Purple really liked Lion. What’s your name? I will have to tell her who’s coming.

“I am Punk,” said the Lion.

Purple really liked Punk. He was the only friend who didn’t ask him why he was purple. He was also big and strong and he could learn how to roar from him.

So Purple and Punk went to the farm, and Purple noticed how long Punk’s steps were, even though he was much bigger. “I must do some yoga, like my mommeee said, he thought. It will make my legs stronger.”

As they approached the farm, Purple saw that all his farm friends were nowhere in sight and he wondered why. He then called out to his mommee. “Mommmmeeeeee, where are you? Look I brought a friend for breakfast. He loves strawberry oatmeal too.”

His mommeee slowly came out from hiding, and walked up to him slowly, cautiously.

“Where have you been, Purple? We have been so worried.”

“Oh, just went for a walk mommeee, sorry I forgot to tell you. This is my friend, Punk, the Lion. Don’t you love his hair?”

His mommeee then took Purple aside and whispered to him, “Do you know who he is? He is a lion, and he eats animals like us. Why have you brought him here? See how you have scared the other farm animals away?”

Purple thought deeply. “But mamma, he is a good boy. He let me sleep in his cave, and we’ve been having such a good time. I am sure he will not harm us. Let me talk to him.”

So Purple went and had a little chat with Punk. “You see, my mommeee and friends are scared of you. They think you may eat them. So you will have to promise me you won’t do that. Else mommeee won’t make you any strawberry oatmeal.”

Punk laughed really loudly. It sounded scary and funny at the same time.

“Oh that…. I should have told you, I have turned fruitarian. Doctor’s advice. I have too much bad cholesterol,” he said.

Purple couldn’t believe his ears. “Really? That’s great!”

“And guess what, I really like fruits. I mean there are over 500 fruits in the jungle. So much variety! I was actually bored of eating the same old meat,” said Punk.

“Yay! High five,” said Purple.

Soon they both said down and shared a huge bowl of strawberry oatmeal. Punk said he had never had something so delicious. Purple was so happy.

 (Do you have a story to share? Mail me at and I will put it up here with due credit. I also promise to read it to Re!) 

Tell me a story

It’s story time. We are reading Lucky Duck. Correction. Re is helping me construct the story of Lucky Duck through his questions. I never realised that this is harder that the actual reading of the story which doesn’t take much more than a clearing of the throat, faking a deep interest (don’t tell me you don’t fake it) and some degree of voice modulation and animatedness, which above all, should be consistent. Which is quite hard, considering that by page four, one is normally, well, tired!

So here is how our reading of Lucky Duck, a story of a boy Lenny who loses and finds his duck, all of 22 pages, by Jonathan Shipton and Suzanne Diederen goes:

Mamma, what’s this baby’s name?

His name is Lenny.

And what’s his doggie’s name?

His name is Zack (made up on the spot)

And what’s his mamma’s name?

Her name is Zoey. 

And why is the baby nangu (naked)?

Because they are all on the beach and making sandcastles, so he can wear only his trunks, otherwise he will get all dirty.

Oh, but the poor ducky’s feathers will get all dirty!

It’s ok, she can dust it off. 

Oh, ok…

Where’s the baby’s dadda?

He has gone to office.

And where is that crab goving? 

(I just notice a crab on the page)

The crab is goving to find food. 

What is the crab goving to eat?

Well, it will find some worms in the sand (by now, I am not sure what crabs really eat)

And what is the baby’s mamma dooving?

She is trying to spread a towel on the beach so that they can all sit on it.

That’s not a towel mamma, it’s a blanket. 

Ok then. 

We are still on page one. Some day, we will get to page 22.

Pet me if you can

A strange but funny thing has been happening with Re.

Since he is growing up with two feline siblings, he has learned to follow his instincts about animals. So while he routinely pets our two, hugs them, sometimes rolls over with them, he has been taught that when in company of a new animal, he must play it by ear.

If he likes the animal (which is all the time),  and the animal is accessible, he is allowed to gently pet, and step back. If the animal likes him back,  or asks for more, he is allowed to pet some more. Till they form a bond or have had enough of each other, whichever happens first.

I find that he applies the same rule to babies and toddlers as well. Yesterday, when I took him to our new favourite park, I saw something that cracked me up. Re was touching every child that caught his fancy on his/her cheek. Following that, if the child didn’t object, he would smile, crinkling his eyes in glee, clap his hands and then rub them on the belly or the shoulder as if to say, “I like you” or “Will you make frandship with me?”

It worked. Perhaps it must have come as a surprise to the said children to be touched thus by another child, considering most of them are  busy trying not to be pushed or shoved around.

By the time we left the park, Re had four new friends. He was also richer by a few grapes (that a girl fed him) and a biscuit (from another boy). And I was grinning from ear to ear.