8.8.90. I was in Pune about a year when I was adopted by a white furry little ball of fur that allowed me to call her Dabish. Dabish means a small stone in Arabic and that’s how tiny she was, so I conveniently carried her home in my pocket. I never fancied myself as a cat person, always imagining myself with a big dog by my side so no one was more surprised when this little waif kitten trained me pretty well…..soon I was running circles around her every whim…I’d buy milk and fish even when I was broke, I cleaned and cleared out her litter box, turned a blind eye when she killed a sparrow, made trips to the vet and even took her to class on occasion, hidden in my jacket pocket! She looked at me balefully when it was bath time and had such a pained expression that I took to bundling her against my tummy till she was warm and dry again…Dabish accompanied me on my walks in the wee hours of morning, using me as a safety pole whenever a dog barked…she shared food from my plate, patiently waiting when she was done, never intruding on my corner and when I was sad or lonely she curled up on my lap and purred her way into my heart. Dabish kept me for four years, happily adapting herself to my changes in address from a flat to the hostel to a one room out house in somebody’s garden…she slept curled up near my face, turning when I turned, moving herself to adjust so she could rub her face on my cheek. When I lived in a second floor apartment she used the neighbour’s balconies on the way down but always took the stairs back. So often the bell would ring (thanks to some kindly neighbour) and I would open the door to have her walking in complaining about the delay….One time, Dabish climbed a tree and couldn’t get down. So I climbed upon a garbage vat under the tree, red bucket in hand and waited patiently till she finally decided my positioning was right and she could jump into the bucket. My friends were, in turn, indulgent, impatient and affectionate with Dabish but all in all they put up with me and my nonsense! When Dabish had kittens, I sat next to her and shared her birthing pains….we had tiny kittens blundering about all over the place…and when her kittens later left, one by one, she was the one who consoled me. When I went home for the holidays, I once left her with a friend in the Army, a doctor stationed in Khadki…he and his friends spoiled her silly and I came to be known as the “cat’s mother”! But she unfailingly ran to my kinetic whenever she heard me coming…leaping into my arms with a loud purr!
One morning, four years later, the neighbours called me and I found Dabish….run over by a passing vehicle…..she had outlived her nine. I buried her in a park near the Film Institute, close to where I was living at the time. And each time I’ve been to Pune thereafter, I’ve made it a point t visit that park….the last time I was there the grass grew wild in her corner and the sunlight danced on the trees and I did not have to shut my eyes to imagine Dabish running about chasing mice and butterflies! But my most enduring image is of Dabish at the foot of my kinetic, sitting straight up at my feet…ears pinned back by the wind!