The Tortoise Cat who taught me to dig for delight even inside agony
It was that year of my tremulous entry into the new planet of the felines padding into my life, when I met the Tortoise cat who came to coax me to check out the joys of lazing around, anywhere anytime, even inside the tangled webs of misery or mistakes! That would be a hard trick to learn, but this Tortoise was an adept furry expert to learn from.
I had always longed to own a Tortoise Shell cat of my own, with that mixed coloring of orange, brown, yellow, black and white painted indiscriminately over the coat. Mixed colours always enchant me, like Rex Begonias, colored ivies, striped roses, crotons and Tortoise Shell cats!
Then one fine day I spotted this kitten on the terrace of a cat loving friend who always had 80 to a 100 strays on his roof.
The little Tortoise Shell kitten sat on a newspaper under the tea time sun that always gleamed down on the terrace in colors of beige, grey tinged with blue, and ever changing patterns of gold, pink, orange and crimson when afternoon was turning into evening.
I had just recovered from a heartbreaking love affair with my first tiny Tortoise Shell kitten, two months old, who had played endlessly with me on several happy evenings after work, with paper dolls, cardboard boxes, bits and pieces of twine etc. and had then died of a horrendous disease. Shelter cats often die suddenly and frighteningly. This happened at that place too often.
I had sat inside her cage watching over her for several unbearable, horrible evenings as she battled with the disease and finally succumbed to it. I was not ready to meet another Tortoise! She reminded me too much of my loss. So I ignored the new Tortoise. I did not want her inside my heart.
Animals like children, can tear you apart when they fall into the pit. But Tortoise would not allow this. She would be sitting on the most frightening branch of a tree on the terrace, from where she would look down upon me to say ‘’hello’’ in the way that cats have. It is a serene blinking, that is more subtle than the mad, loud, thumping barking of dogs: they fling their love upon you crazily!
But I did not respond to this overture either!
Then there came that one afternoon when work stank with envy and petty squabbles and drove me away to the terrace. There was Tortoise waiting to make friends again, sitting still with her paws neatly arranged before her. She blinked and began to shine over the office knives that had stabbed the day.
I just missed the first little Tortoise so much that I could not bear to be reminded of her.
But then I was very alone that day, badly in need of a friend outside the office. A friend who did not talk, did not twitter, cackle, o squeak or tattle, rubbing salt inside the wounds with crisp gossip. And there she was, just such a friend! She did not twitter, tattle, bleat or blubber! She just shone into my soul the way innocence always does. And when the Universe sends you exactly what you have ordered, or begged for, it is better not to play too hard to get!
And this lazy multicolored stunner somehow loaned me her ability to snip off bits from the sweetest sky of powder blue, to wrap up the soul with and laze away the day.
As she blinked at me I deigned to smile back and that was the beginning of the most amazing rainbow of attachment for repair work beginning to glimmer between two hearts from opposing arenas with a fat border of solid gold empathy!
Pics and text: daksha hathi