Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Curious Tale

 Curious* was discovered by a local garbage dump, weak, hungry and crooked, one soggy July evening in 2005 . Numerous unpleasant incidents with our growing menagerie mean, that we try not to see or hear stray orphans as we walk or drive around the streets of Colombo, but this one hit my eyes, solidly and firmly although it probably measured no more than three inches across at the time, from nose to ratty tail tip. This bug eyed, quizzical looking vision of a blurred orange ball with a string on one end, would not leave me.  

Curious was destined to be my favourite.

Mentally and physically Curious is slightly handicapped, possibly mildly "autistic". Just like with humans, in the animal world too, this happens occasionally but we see hardly any instances of such because cruel laws of the jungle dictate survival of the fittest and shrewdest and even they never get a second chance. Curious it would appear, was supposed to. Add to this the fact that he had lost his mother early in life , and you understand why he is twice blessed , doubly lucky and a symbol of hope in a world gone wrong.

Curious lives his life at a tilt of about 23 degrees, and so probably is the only one among us who actually sees the world as it really is. This is due to some obscure spinal deformity which makes him slant his head quizzically when he's walking about or sitting thinking. To the every day rat or ghecko he must appear an extra sinister and calculating predator, but we find it extremely endearing, probably because we know that he would never think of catching or killing any thing, far less eating it: Curious is the closest feline domestica ever came to being a practising vegetarian, and prefers papadam and cheese buttons to chicken. In fact any crackling sound will inevitably cause him to spring off his perch and come sniffing thoughtfully around.

Curious has been in one or two very narrow escapes.
There was the day, which we will never forget , when he went looking at his reflection in my loo and fell in. Yours truly is a working girl who goes out at 7 am and returns at 6 pm, so that drop involved a lot of dog paddling, raucous screaming and commode water ingestion until he was discovered in the early afternoon by the daily help and another generous philanthropist, who put his hand in and fished him out, shampooed him with warm water and Sunsilk shampoo, and wiped him down amidst yowling protests, with one of my tea cloths, whilst admitting that there were, in retrospect, not many people around he would do this for…Curious survived this episode unscathed but with a respect for water closets.

Curious is not interested in the usual singing and serenading competitions that Tom Cats spend much of their waking life thinking about. He is no threat to Patchy (the local princess) and would not know the difference between one end of a female cat and the other, and probably would not bother finding out. As far as she is concerned, he is the epitome of genuine unselfish love and companionship and sits near her on cold evenings, quietly watching the funny humans cooking and arguing about who finished the good curry powder.

Curious accepts life good naturedly, although he does not understand it.

For some weeks he would experience hunger, and look curiously at his food , not realising that the actual consumption thereof would relieve the pangs gnawing his innards, but with the vague idea that some kind of participation was expected of him.

We had to fend off the rest of kittenkind and favour him a bit until he got the idea….

Curious lacks balance and will regularly fall on his backside and look miffed about it. We thus never throw him out of the front door , but place him carefully on the front carpet if we need to de-cat the living room. He is the only cat I know to have missed a fridge, by which I mean he tried a running jump from a table to a refrigerator two feet away and missed it to end up falling short and going down scrabbling half heartedly at the door, again to land on his rump with a audible burp.

Curious is a cat, an ordinary cat and nothing like an ordinary cat. HE was discovered among garbage and yet he has enriched our lives more than many expensive diversions money can buy. He has taught us not to take things for granted and yet to accept some things with grace, even if you cant understand the reasons for them. He's one of the reasons I cant find employment abroad, apart from my attachment to my children and my book and DVD collection and the fact that I love Wellampitiya.

I cannot think of anyone but myself taking care of Curious, and it would break my heart to have to let go of him.

So who's the dependent one, you wonder?


* also fondly referred to as MANTAL
There are more abandoned orphans like Curious featured at and we hope you will stop by and spare a minute for them. Well, more than a minute if possible?