Previously on: The Infestation
She was dropped, rather unceremoniously, in front of me one morning and rather than cower under the table, the cat approached my stretched hands to rub her head against my knuckles.
It was our first encounter.
She was dispatched from our ancestral house to counter the growing rat population at home. Droppings were everywhere and even the food on the table wasn't spared when nobody's looking. My sister already sounded the alarm. She was even willing to hire the services of a specialist to see the pests demise from our sight. Only after these creatures appeared in my room, squeaking, and gnawing on wood did I act with urgency. The fly paper counter assault did little to stop their advance. Not even the peanut butter coated bait drew them into the sticky trap.
It must be the feline's brutal attacks that finally drove the critters away. Overnight, the mice no longer dash behind the furniture. The bins were even left open, certain that nothing will jump out when we put spoiled food items in. Except for the stink that wafted from the toilet when the cat decides to take a dump, the guest didn't pose much of a problem. She even eats the leftover dog food once the house companion had her fill. It was, the most convenient of arrangements.
I thought we could keep her for good. But the house is shared with residents who might pose a threat to the cat. While my sister doesn't want her because of the poop, it is the children that worries us more. It didn't help that the nephew who has asthma was her tormentor. I was told he was caught pulling the cat's tail when the nanny wasn't looking. Also, the frequent snarling, when the cat walks close just as the dog is eating might happen when the tykes are nearby.
There are many ways to get scratched by a cat's claw. It is just a matter of timing.
The animal was never given a name for reasons of impermanence. It was a temporal arrangement whose end was to remove the mice from the house. Nothing more. Resigned to this reality, the cat was given courtesies the dog never enjoyed. She was carried around like an infant, hugged, like a ragdoll, gets to check the rooms without being shooed. She even gets to climb my bed and sleep beside the pillows.
She was more of a house pet to me. And maybe, I was more to her than a reluctant host.
In her days of stay, and nights of mouse hunting, the cat afforded an aspiration, a wishful thinking should a time come when I would have to live my days in hermitage:
Mugen, in his advanced age gets up from the bed to start his daily rituals. Lumbering with a cane towards the terrace, to tend to his basil and lavender plants he has nurtured from days past, a short-haired, tri-colored cat much like the one he lets into his room many, many years ago trailed behind. With her tail stiff and pointing at the ceiling, she rubs her body against any hard surface when she catches up. The inseparable companions lived their days, like life finally completes its cycle.
For the old man, I think of at this moment, he asks nothing more.