Mishti’s Eiderdown & The Final Solution!
I was inside a very dark, dreadful place of woe at one time, it fairly drooled despair, when Mishti gifted to me her Eiderdown Solution to try out. It sounds a little scary, reminding us of the Final Solution!!! But this one was very different, with not a single Nazi in it. Though the problem was bad. It was like having ten Nazis living inside my soul, littering it with greed, gruesome venom and malice.
Mishti was the ginger and white kitten who had invited herself to my home three years ago, when she was smaller than a teacup, sneaking in through my meshed garden door, and making it a permanent stop.
Before being adopted by five cats, I had been the somewhat blameless animal lover who thought elephants were the best thing that happened to the world. They are veggies, like I am, which was all good. But when the cats arrived, with their fiercely carnivorous natures, I forgot all about elephants. The furry lot still often give me heart attacks as they crunch upon chicken, fish, and whatever else they can gobble up while I wonder why I did not fall in love with just birds.
Well anyway during this blackened time of such dread and disarray, that not even Netflix could help me to perk up, boring me with Dolly Parton’s very long very sugary, too long tales, I decided to do some happy shopping. It was years since I had treated myself to a nice bedspread from the Rajasthan emporium. They have sturdy, solid, gorgeous quilted and hand printed or painted bedsheets, pillow cases and many other items to savour. They also last forever. Mine had vanished so I ordered one online, and I was surprised when it arrived.
It was not a bedsheet but a very large, soft, thick and glorious white cotton eiderdown covered with pink, blue, red flowers and extremely handsome fat elephants cavorting all over them! It was almost a week later I discovered that someone had been using it very happily the minute I opened it out. It was Mishti! One morning I found her two paws sticking out of the glorious soft covers and felt like joining her inside them.
The pitiless problem was still nagging me and as I struggled to sort it out through awful, useful, dream messages, sleepless nights and worry, I noticed the two paws and dived in to join them. It was the most surprising unexpected journey of my life! First of all, it was one of my first shopping done online, as there was no Rajasthan showroom in the City where I was now living. It was magic. Amazon sent the eiderdown within three days and also gave tempting coupons to get free food online. But since I had still not forgotten all those dreadful stories about some Swiggy guy gobbling up half the pulao on the way to delivering it, I declined this offer. Besides I love cooking.
Now the eiderdown, Mishti and I fell into a spell of wonder which slowly edged towards wisdom or perhaps calm. Mishti had never slept so close to me before. When she was small as a muffin she often slept on my lap. But later when she developed a skin disease and I was forever spraying her with iodine she became furious and would never come close enough to be caught. Now her wound was healed and she was spending almost the entire day and ofcourse the nights inside my elephantine eiderdown. Very very slowly but surely I was made to understand that the eiderdown was Mishti’s and as a special favour she was allowing me to share it.
She even began to put out a distinctly irritated and scolding meow if I disturbed her too much or put a heavy book on the small round bundle showing under the covers! Or even if I sometimes pulled it off her while cleaning up or arranging stuff! But this time also taught me not to be so fussy about cleaning up and arranging and all that stuff. It was a time to just hide underneath an exquisitely made Rajasthani haven with its purring caretaker! I could not move myself away from this refuge and gave up all my favourite pursuits.
Those first few awful days with my grief, exhausted me so much they just flung me down on the bed snug against my ginger and white dotted cat. At first I just slept with her, feeling her soft warm purring against me. I only woke up to wash, to gobble up some food and then to sleep again. The darkest grief and dread begins to ease away little by little. With dreams and silence and looking inward, the problem lost its sharp fangs. It did not go away, but like all ferocious wrongs, it gave me new treasures. The poetry they gave me was better than the usual quick cosy stuff I often churn out. This one was sharper, cleaner and dressed up with truth!
As I lay down the eiderdown seemed to egg me on to read something. Netflix had a Rene Zelleweggar tv show and a movie, and they pushed me deep inside the sheet with my cat away from their trite soapy rubbish. Apple TV had kept me hooked with The Morning Show. Then the addictive Dickinson. On Netflix there was The Irish Man which was good. But somehow the eiderdown also coaxed me to read. So I began to finally start reading one of the 50 books I had bought from the Sunday roadside bookfair in our town.
Then I read The Seventh Gate by Richard Zimler and realised I had discovered a new writer who would hold me in a spell for many months or years. It was about the Nazis and Hitler beginning to plunge Germany into that sewer of hatred and death. Best of all was Mishti’s purring and her immense pleasure with the elephant patterned warmer. She went into many journeys inside it and always emerged in the early hour of six, to remind me about breakfast. Then her eyes glimmered gold drops into my face and planned another day inside the home, under cover with her.
I think it was almost a month or more I spent on that bed with the soft covers, the cheering elephants from Rajasthan, and a cat explaining to me the benefits of oversleeping every single day and night! And just when I was beginning to think she was an angel, the neighbour’s tiny grey kitten slunk in one morning to scoop up the left overs of fresh fish my cats had as usual wasted. She gobbled them up so fast you would think she had come out of Hitler’s concentration camp and was catching up with her eating.
Then she settled down on the eiderdown which was when Mishti showed her true colours. She was not pleased at all and came out of the warmth of the cosy coverlet and stalked off! Till the uninvited guest had left, she stayed away. I realised the eiderdown was not the same without Mishti in it! She was coaxed and buttered up to return.
As she waded through its endless corridors, dreaming or searching for clues to her own magical, glad games, I napped and read and dreamt and felt the problem taking its time to wind around me and trying to strangle me with its venom. It discovered that me and a small ginger and cream cat had found the Final Solution! It was to allow sleep, silence, serenity and dreams to haul us out of the sewer of sorrow and to seek a small, brighter corner of our world…..