Illegal Occupancy

Illegal Occupancy

Iused to see her quite often when she first arrived at my neighbour’s flat. What was she up to, snooping around in the corridor, hanging out near the staircase? My sister and I took an instant dislike to her. So far there had been no intrusion of this kind in our apartment building. Life had gone on peacefully among the residents; solitude and silence reigned over the staircase in the evenings.

 It was only now that I could hear laughter and cajoling voices all around me. Sometimes tussles and giggles and sounds of running steps on the staircase. Guess it was all caused by the new arrival.

My neighbour, Shanti defended her house guest vociferously. It was obvious she and her family loved the new comer. Especially her college going son who seemed to be totally besotted by the female. Many a time I had raised a single eyebrow when I caught him chasing her down the corridor. My! what giggles and endearments he purred over her and she so coy and submissive to his petting.

Of course, I wanted to complain to the secretary about the goings on in the building. No one seemed to mind the illegal occupancy of an unwelcome stranger of dubious background amidst the staid old residents.

Where had she come from? What was her caste, creed, income and educational qualifications. Did she have an adhar card, pan card, a family? And what about her reputation—were we harbouring a female of easy morals? As it was this boy was smitten silly by her; what about other youngsters in the building?

The crisis came one afternoon when she slunk into my flat as my sister and I were having tea.  I had left the front door open for some air and there she was striking a pose right under my nose. I let out a scream and yelled for my neighbour. The boy dashed into my living room and swept her into his arms with a broad grin on his face. ‘Look here, she has become a nuisance in the building. I have to complain,’ I muttered, with irritation.
He grinned some more and said, It’s a he, auntie; not a she.’

‘Oh, whatever, he or she, you better keep your cat to yourself. And don’t let her out of the door.’ Well, all this was a good two years ago. I never saw the cat again. Life in the building had resumed its tranquillity. The other day I met the boy on the staircase. He had grown into quite a man, a thick beard adorning his face.

‘Do you still have the cat? I don’t see it anymore...’ ‘We do have him, auntie,’ he grinned,’ He is there allright. Never comes out.’ I didn’t know what to say. I looked at him in disbelief. Finally I came out cattily with, ‘A very private cat indeed, then.’ ‘Yes,’ he agreed with a smile.

In these two years, it must have grown into a tiger, was my silent philosophical conclusion, pondering over the strange ways of men and cats.

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