Buddhu Cat was all brown stripes and big fat head and totally ordinary. Perhaps below ordinary even. Buddhu cat's mummy was all white and beautiful. His sister was black and very intelligent and playful. (Cats don't have Daddys so don't ask me the rest). But Buddhu cat was, well, just buddhu. Low on intelligence, ability, wit, smartness, looks. His mummy and sister treated him with scorn. He was scared of everything, he never learned manners, would even steal from the kitchen and dining table, and therefore made himself hated by my mother.
He always sat on trees or walls from where he would watch the world going about its ways that he perhaps could not comprehend. All other male cats chased him and bit him for fun. When he was given food, he ate in a hurry because he worried that even that would be snatched away from him. He never spoke much, he was a very silent cat.
But Buddhu cat knew that I loved him. Maybe he did not know that I loved him more than the others because he needed it more. Life was so unfair to him, and I believed that it was up to me set right the balance.
He knew that I lived in the upstairs bedroom, my solitary life among books. If he came into the house, mother would chase him out. But there was a gooseberry tree just outside my window. Which had a branch coming all the way to the windowsill. One day Buddhu cat came up to hide on the tree, and I called him and showed him the way to come in.
Following which he would come up through the gooseberry tree, peep in through the curtains, make sure that no one else was there, or that my brother was fast asleep in the next bed, and jump in. He would sleep next to me on my bed, purring away, the only time he ever purred, perhaps the only time he felt completely safe. And sometimes he would climb onto my tummy quietly and fall asleep curled up in a ball. I would wake up in the night feeling that I can't breathe anymore and wondering why. And the Buddhu cat would be gently rising up and down on my tummy, a round little ball of fur no one wanted.
He went away one fine day just like all male cats do. Never understood why they did that, but I knew it would happen. I worried no end how he will manage in the big bad world with his buddhu-ness, and minus my protection. But he had to follow the "inscrutable exhortations of his soul", or his hormones or whatever. For a long time on moonlit nights, I would look outside the window hoping to find a small funny figure walking towards the gooseberry tree. Now it was just me against the whole world.
Sometimes when I wake up in the night with a heaviness on my tummy and on my soul, I remember my poor little Buddhu cat. I hope he was given a special place in Cat Heaven. The place reserved for the innocents.
May 10, 2006