It was not just an ordinary cat that had found its way in our house. It was a delightful, loveable and spoilt Siamese whom I purchased for a handsome amount from a vet. Purchasing a cat was unheard of in my circle, since pet cats usually were either picked as stray kittens that meowed their small lungs out of hunger and scratched at the front of kitchen doors. When fed milk or a piece of meat, they adopted the household instead of the household adopting them.The idea of purchasing a cat was brought home by my daughter who had seen a lovely Siamese couple playing in my brother’s house. She was so enthralled that nothing short of at least a small kitten, if not a couple, could stop her constant pleading. I gave in and so a small furry kitten came into our house who was instantly named Liono; after its feline relation with the lord of the jungle.
Liono soon assumed the role of the ‘baby of the house’, it was fed, looked after and taken care of in the same manner. The hunger clock of his tummy rang exactly on time and it would go and sit in front of the fridge, I would take out the frozen ball of meat and put it in the micro-wave oven to de-frost, while the plate in the oven went round and round, Liono’s eyes followed the circular movement and then from taking it out and putting it in its feeding bowl was the most trying time, Liono would lose patience and its meowing would reach the highest pitch. It was the most impatient cat I had ever come across.
Among all the habits it had, some annoyed my husband very much. When he spread the prayer mat Liono use to think he was playing with him and it would try and catch the tassels thus making it difficult for my husband to spread it. If by some chance he was successful in spreading the mat and started his prayer Liono would sit behind waiting for him to raise his finger while uttering ‘kalma e shahadat’. As soon as the finger was raised he would pounce on it. It would be a scene –my husband trying to raise his finger as little and as slowly as possible and the wicked liono would sense the slightest movement and jump. The poor man had to shoo the cat out and close the door before praying. Whenever he wanted to sleep he would find Liono sleeping on his pillow. ‘Why doesn’t it sleep on your pillow or in its own basket?’, he would look at me helplessly. All efforts to teach Liono to sleep on its own little mattress and under its own blanket failed. One day limits crossed when it played havoc with my husband’s important file. He was very angry. ‘throw him out,’ he pointed his finger towards Liono, ‘either he stays in this house or I.’ The matter was getting out of control. I looked at my teary eyed daughter. ‘Ok’ I said. ‘You may take your bag and leave….
‘What?’ my husband was not expecting me to say this. ‘Yeah!’ I said calmly. ‘How can I throw this wretched cat out, it is a pet cat, stray dogs will tear it apart.’….. my husband choked and my daughter heaved a sigh of relief.
Never before I had seen a cat eating (licking rather) sweets and lollipops. Liono loved to eat anything that we ate, it was impossible to open a packet in its presence, the mere sound of ripping or crinkling of a wrapper would have its eyes sparkle and its hair raise in preparation to jump at the packet. Name anything from sweets to potato chips and ice creams, and from ‘moti choor ke laddoo’ to nimko, Liono knew the taste of each. Of course its share in the chicken, mutton or fish that was cooked had to be ensured otherwise one could only guess why one leg of the chicken was missing.
Cats usually, in fact always, fall on their paws when they do fall. Liono was an exception. It’s favourite place for an untimely nap was on top of our fridge. It would climb on our fridge and sleep. During sleep it would turn over, not realizing that the fridge has ended and it would fall on its back with a thud. Any one who saw it fall would laugh, Liono would get up shaking and uttering a ‘sheepish’ meow. When it was small it would find the shoes of the boys and my husband best to curl in and hide. Once, my eldest son who was then in PAF Academy, came to spend a weekend. His shoes and socks used to be very smelly. Liono, finding a new large army boot a perfect place to hide, crawled in only to jerk back, his eyes popping out and head shaking vigorously, it even forgot to meow and ran like a bullet under the bed!
A very comical incident happened when my mother came to visit for a few days. She was then seventy years old and very frail. In the morning we all departed to our work places, colleges etc. My mom was alone in the house. At 2:30 when I came home Liono did not come to the front door to greet me. He was sitting in front of my mother and staring at her, and my poor mom was sitting curled up in the chair looking frightened. As soon as she saw me she hurled abuses at the cat. Mom had been sitting the whole day on the chair because Liono stood guard in front of her making her its prisoner. Least to say that she refused to stay in my house alone with that ‘dreadful cat’ and I had to take few days off from work to give her company.
Liono grew up, and like all other male cats, it now wanted to go out and explore the world, meet the cat of its dreams. It would sneak out whenever the door was left open and one fateful day it went never to return. All we do now is to talk about it and laugh… sometimes with tears in our eyes