Perspectives from the Himalaya

Unleashing the Unstoppable Mischief, Meowfraa!

The cat was feeling the munchies. He heard the scurrying legs of cockroaches in the apartment close by. He felt the mischievous twitches of his whiskers and knew an adventure was awaiting him. It was a wet rainy night. Perfect for a quick outdoor play with the frogs before making his appearance.

In his wet suit, he leapt out from the 2nd floor window adjacent to the common stairwell and landed gracefully on the balcony handrails of the apartment where Big A and Little A had once lived. He had observed that the windows were often left ajar at night. True to his observations, the windows were an open invitation for the feline’s crunchy feast. The handrails were wet and slippery but certainly not a deterrent for a peckish cat on a mission. With wet paws, he nuzzled his way through the pliable insect screen that divided the threshold. He was in. He arrived at the kitchen and stride boldly across the kitchen counter leaving his sinister trail of paw prints trailing behind. His plans for a self-invited appearance on a surprise note were flawless.

Cockroaches are contortionists by nature with the capability to scuttle, roll, fly, walk upside down and flatten their crunchy bodies before disappearing into very thin crevices. They are generally silent, with the exception of discovering crumbs often left by little humans. They may get a little excited sometimes to the detriment of leaving their guard down for predators and acts of human intolerance. A few species of mama roach appear to be parthenogenetic which means the females are able to churn out perfect clones of themselves without any need for males. This may explain why humans can never defeat the superior cockroach.

As the cockroach comes into sight, the cat pounces on it with glee. Not without a fight, the cockroach wriggles out from his paw grip with ease and scuttles with speed across the floor. The cat sprints ahead and dives for it again. The malleable cockroach survives the squishing and crushing of the vicious paws and escapes the grip. The feline is fired up and makes repeated leaps on the gritty roach, all the while documenting its movement with swirls of wet prints on the floor tiles. The play of survival for the cockroach was brief before the cat savoured his well-earned snack. He spits out the hairy legs and walks to the bathroom for the next episode. He leaps onto the spotless white bathtub, continuing his creation of paw prints around the rim but is left disappointed by the absence of the nocturnal creatures. He strides to the bedroom where Little A and Big A were fast asleep. He was familiar with their scent and nuzzled up to their toes poking out from the blanket. His purring was affectionate and attention-seeking. But the boys were in deep sleep and heard not his purring. Hence, the cat made his exit, once again nudging the bottom edge of the insect screen next to the bed, leaving his night adventure, unseen, but well cartographed.

Mama I woke up with bemusement. Still a little dazed from sleep, she was not sure if she was feeling a little stumped or amused at the scene of the murder. Picking up the obvious traces of clues – the defined paw prints, strokes of faint markings establishing a struggle on the cupboard door, remnants of unattached hairy legs and derailed insect screens, she wished she was in a dream and would wake up again to a normal morning that usually greets her with clean floors.

Unsuspecting to Mama I, her feline encounters continue unabated in Astam village.

Fresh milk is acquired daily from Madam Buffalo and Madam Cow. The milk is boiled in a large iron wok over an open fire, acquiring a subtle and delicious charcoal flavour over time. Then it is generously shared with the urban family that knows not the knows-and-hows of rearing milk-giving mammals. The milk is then sieved into a pot, just in time for a lovely cup of chai or coffee in the mornings. Without a fridge, the rest of the milk is kept in a metal pot sufficient for a day’s consumption.

The cat that Mama I is acquainted with in Astam seems to have a livelihood of searching for the milk pot. She has a sneaky tendency, paired with a stealthy gait to appear in the kitchen whenever the humans retreat. She is of the focus kind for she hunts only for the milk. She smells her way to the pot, nudges the lid with her head and pushes it to the side. But the pot is too deep for her to lick from. So she does the only possible thing. She brings the rim of the pot down with her front paw and in doing so, creates a river of milky nectar that flows across the table, pools onto the floor and splashes the walls. And there, Mama I discovers her on numerous occasions lapping up her fill. Once again, Mama I gets the calling to be on her knees with the rags to clean the mess.

Henceforth, Mama I has learnt that the kitchen in a village is truly a larger congregation for several kinds of species. Whatever the outcome, Mama I cannot find a place in her heart to hold grudges against the furballs. These Meowfraas, as known by Big A and Little A, bundled in a furry package with adorableness, amusement, bossiness and cleverness never cease to add some spice to Mama I’s domestic affairs.

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