The purr of perfection!

The purr of perfection!

I met my brother as well, since he happens to own it. Correction! As every cat-lover should know, one does not ‘own’ a cat. On the contrary, one is possessed---completely taken over---by that captivating creature; precisely the case in my brother’s bachelor household. Suresh acquired Zoonie two months ago, and his life now revolves around the ginger kitten.

Zoonie greeted me warmly, as he welcomes all who call on him. Among his admirers is Shivani, but for whom my brother might never have known Zoonie. Discovering the frightened little fellow in the basement of a building, she took him home. Unfortunately for Shivani, her own cat, Mahua---accustomed to undivided attention---showed her resentment of the newcomer by shutting herself up in a cupboard and fasting in protest.

Faced with ‘catyagraha’, Shivani looked around for someone to entrust with the kitten, and was relieved when Suresh agreed to care for it. Growing up in Delhi, we had always kept cats, and my brother was eager to revive the tradition. Even the name that he chose recalls our past. Zoonie is a cute character in a science-fiction TV series that we watched in our younger days.

According to Shivani, Suresh and Zoonie were meant to share a home. In support of her theory, she pointed to a small clock. As I remember, Suresh has had it for ages, but when Shivani drew my attention to it, I noticed that the cat figurine adorning it bore a striking resemblance to Zoonie. ‘It was ordained that Zoonie should come here,’ declared Shivani.
Fate and fortune go hand in hand. My brother feels that the kitten has enriched his existence. He is showered with affection by Zoonie, who has but to hear Suresh’s key in the lock to scramble off the sofa, tumble to the floor (youthful clumsiness not yet outgrown) and rush to receive him. As Suresh leaves for work each morning, Zoonie sits on his feet, in a bid to prevent his departure. When my brother returns, Zoonie sits snugly on his chest, purring contentedly. At bedtime, he settles on his pillow; within a whisker---quite literally---of Suresh’s face.

For his part, the once homeless kitten leads a luxurious life. In my brother’s clever adaptation of a popular phrase---Zoonie’s is a ‘rats to riches’ story. He eats the choicest foods from a nearby pet store, and plays with an assortment of toys from the same source. His favourite is a yo-yo with a make-believe mouse dangling at one end. This is tied to a door handle and the slightest touch sends the mouse bobbing up and down.
Zoonie stands on his hind legs, desperately trying to seize the elusive enemy with his forepaws. He was momentarily diverted from his exertions by a ball I presented him.

Zoonie is also attracted to the pigeons which perch on the ledge of my brother’s apartment, eying them curiously through a barrier of glass. Suresh believes---optimistically, perhaps---that Zoonie is unlikely to harm the pigeons. However, he keeps the window looking out on the balcony closed, concerned that the kitten, stepping out to befriend the birds, could plunge seven floors to the ground. Zoonie might---with proverbial cat buoyancy---fall on his feet, but Suresh prefers to acquaint him with the world downstairs less dramatically. The kitten travels by elevator in a covered basket, and then---on the green expanse surrounding my brother’s block of flats---Suresh walks him on a leash. Zoonie delights in these evening excursions, but while he tolerates the caresses of passers-by, he resists over-enthusiastic cuddling. Attempting to escape irksome handling, this gentle kitten never scratches or bites (not even the vet.!). Instead, Zoonie quietly reenters his carrier; a signal to Suresh that having one’s ears tweaked and tail pulled is not a kitten’s idea of entertainment.

What Zoonie looks forward to is mingling with his own kind. On the second day of my visit, Suresh’s colleague, Sugandh, came over with Goo-Goo, a female kitten slightly older than Zoonie.  Goo-Goo and Zoonie spent an hour taking stock of each other, and later indulged in fun and frolic. My brother has since taken Zoonie to see Goo-Goo, and Zoonie relished not only her company but also the drive from Andheri to Malad and back.

Nestling behind the rear seat on such trips, Zoonie reminds Suresh of a mechanical cat we had in the Ambassador car of our childhood. Ginger-coloured, it was placed in the same spot, and nodded its head at regular intervals. Apparently, Zoonie nods too; another sign, maybe---from much earlier in time than the cat clock---that Suresh was destined to enjoy the blessing of this faithful feline friend.

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