My Dad named him Sher Khan because of his majestic tiger-like looks – golden furry skin with black stripes here and there. He was brought in by the night-watchman for two reasons, one to give him company during his lonely hours of duty and secondly as a solution to the mice menace in the basement. It all started because of a few irresponsible residents who used to throw a lot of loose garbage in the bins that were kept in the basement. The open garbage bins gradually attracted mice and rats. Many screams were heard from the basement when these rodents shocked people who went to take or park their cars at night. Rat poison as a solution to tackle this problem was completely vetoed by our Jain neighbours. By no means would they allow gory violence even if it was for pests. And the others supported them when they realized they would have to bear the stink of dead rats till they could actually find and dispose their dead bodies.
That is how Sher Khan happened to be the latest resident of Peace Plaza apartments. But after its arrival, they might have just wanted to rename our building as there was not much peace after that.
At least seventeen people in our block were petrified of cats – in fact they had a phobia for them. So, now there were more screams heard in the lobby and from different floors at different times of the day and night depending on where the cat was encountered.
Then a few days ago, all of us realized by the size of the cat’s stomach that it might be a female who was about to get babies. My sister and I named it Billo Rani. Billo – because of its feline symbolism and Rani, because it had very royal tastes. She would lie or curl up only on a Mercedes and BMW in the basement. Sometimes she would be found on seats of the most expensive and sleaziest of bikes. She seemed to have a flair for anything ‘foreign’.
Recently there was another society meeting held, because of the cat menace this time. Mrs. Mukherji complained that fish was often stolen from her kitchen by BR (Billo Rani for short) by slipping in stealthily from the window or balcony (not to mention milk, curd, cream, paneer, kheer, rabdi, etc. from others’ houses). Mrs. Pinto said her grandson had stopped going to the children’s play area because he was scared of the cat. Mr. Swamy said that the stink in one particular lift was intolerable as BR mistook it for her personal toilet. The kids sent their written complaint about BR reducing the squirrel population in the garden. They said they did not want to have anything to do with a cat that could not differentiate between friendly squirrels and irritating mice and rats. They said that parrots, pigeons, mynahs and other birds too were chased away by BR. Some of the older children were offended by its bold snobbishness when it refused to be scared or shooed by them. They found her insolence unbearable, considering its size.
But, Billo Rani, stately queen that she is, beat everyone at this fight for dominance, by littering 6 little cute tiger-like miniatures of herself – right under the brand new red Ferrari. And the pious people of Peace Plaza didn’t know how to handle this one. They were not heartless enough to drive out the poor things into this big, bad cruel world.
These kittens of royal lineage do not venture anywhere near our small ‘desi’ brand of car and are probably waiting for a Rolls Royce or a Limousine to stretch and lie on.
Incidentally they have been named Napoleon (always out to rule the world), Nefertiti (has Egyptian looks), Noor-Jahan (behaves like an empress), Nero (music calms him), NASA (her eyes have the glitter of the entire Solar System) and Nazi (indulges in mass murder of mice). And needless to stay, the members of this blue-blood family are now permanent residents of Peace Plaza where peace prevails no more.