The Love of My Life I have had bad luck with cats recently. Our first cat, we acquired when we were first married. He was black and white, with a perfectly round head, white nose, black patches, like a pirate’s, around his eyes and a very pink nose. We bought him off an old man who had him in a sack. We heard plaintive meows issuing from the sack, as we walked home, one night and Oruba, bought for one rupee, hence the name, walked into the house, tipped his saucer of milk onto his head and took charge of our hearts. He soon grew into a tough Tom and vanquished all opposition. As he grew older, we let him roam around at night, but he spent the day with us. We kept a bedroom window open for him and often, of a morning, I would find his round head on my pillow or on my out flung arm, though my husband got more cuddles than me and it was frequently a cause for our early tiffs. Oruba was a great hunter and I lost count of the poor squirrels that fell a prey to his killer instinct. But one day a parakeet proved to be his undoing. We tried to rescue it but he gobbled it up in record time and slunk off presumably to snooze. Imagine my surprise when I found him, with a tortured, faraway look in his eye, constantly trying to jump at an imaginary foe. I gave him a homeopathic drug and was happy to see him lie wearily down. This incident did not get him down for long. In a few weeks, he was up to his old tricks, but this time, he had met his match. Oruba sneaked out one day and got a crow. The crows showed their remarkable talent for organization and battle by establishing a guerrilla intelligence unit right on the garden wall. Every time he was seen, dive bombers would peck his head until I had to stand guard whenever he wanted to use the facilities! A well chastened cat quietly went back to chasing the hapless squirrels. Oruba had the last laugh. When he was four years old, we found two little tabbies abandoned on the street and brought them home. Disgusted with the attention the interlopers were getting, Oruba decamped to the gardener’s quarters, three doors down, and took up with the female there. He would wait on the garden wall for me to pass by on my way home from work and would follow me, yowling invective, until I had calmed him down with milk and fish and cuddled him. The kittens would invariably rush up for their share of the food, when Oruba would spit foul language, put out his claws, take a swipe at the nearest one and watch balefully from the garden wall, until the kittens were sated. With a final wild yowl, he would then go back to the gardener’s hut, tail waving, eyes glaring yellow daggers with every backward glance. He lived for another two years, until a new kid on the block, took over and Oruba went down, like a tired boxer, gloves at the ready, belligerent to the end.
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