What I'm Reading: Link List #1

24 January 2015

(This is the first of a new series I'm starting where I'm going to link to stories I read (and sometimes stories I write) on the internet.)

1) It's a pretty crap deal to have Prader-Willi syndrome, a disease that basically never lets you feel full, and sufferers can eat so much they RUPTURE THEIR OWN STOMACHS.  

In 2004, Peter and Gayle Girard held their annual Christmas Eve party for family members at their home in Orlando, Fla. Before dinner, they set out chips, vegetables and dip, shrimp, a bowl of punch and sodas. Their 17-year-old son, Jeremy, had Prader-­Willi, and they often hosted events at their home so he could join in while they kept an eye on him — as they believed they were doing that night. But the next morning, Jeremy’s belly was distended, and he complained of pain. At the emergency room, doctors pumped his stomach, but his condition worsened. A day passed before surgeons discovered that his stomach, which had been distended long enough to lose blood flow and become septic, had ruptured. Jeremy died that night.

2)  Everyone knows if you say "hey" instead of "heyyyy" you're kinda angry at the person you're talking to. Is The Innanet Ruining Teh English Language??? 

Language is shaped by the medium it has to move through, and today "the internet is no longer this special place you go to," Baron points out, "It's where we live our lives, for better or worse." As the technology matures, so does the online language we use to express ourselves.

Being accepted to our program means that a writer’s content has the opportunity to improve our site metrics instantly. We understand how important it is to our business model to expand our online presence by publishing an obscene number of posts to compete with numerous outlets that waste money on editors, like Jezebel. We hope that Listicle can become like one of those outlets, only more profitable because we’ll never pay anyone!
4)  I wrote this; but is still pretty good and worth a read if you want something about books and long distance and feelings. *smiley face* An Open Letter From India To the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I have a dragon tattoo too, by the way. It represents a folly of youth, a small curled up dragon ‒ like a seahorse with wings ‒ sits on my left hip. At the time it was supposed to be my totem, my fire and brimstone amulet, my ward against evil. As time went by though, I forgot about it, except maybe when I caught sight of it in a shower or something, then I’d think, “Oh yeah, I have a tattoo.”

5) Urgh, even the Jaipur Lit Fest (which is ongoing, and no, I didn't attend this year) is becoming super politicised

It is possible that Malhotra does not endorse what Tariyal has done, in which case it would be good to hear him publicly say so at Jaipur. Perhaps “serious intellectuals” would like to ask him about his stance on books whose content he opposes. Does he support banning them? Does he support legal action against books, based on laws that impinge on the freedom of expression and free debate? Does he endorse the kind of objections Batra had to Doniger’s book—including objecting to the naked Gopis shown with Krishna on the cover—even though such depictions have been a staple of Indian art?

What interesting stories have you read this week? Leave 'em in the comments!

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The Great Indian Rail Yatra Part One: Varanasi (SUPER LONG PHOTO ESSAY!)

21 January 2015

This December, the Good Thing and I decided to go on an "adventurous" winter vacation. We would take a train across North India, see a few sights, and then catch a train from Jhansi all the way to Goa. We--well, I--called this our Great Indian Rail Yatra. It was going to be EPIC.  We booked all our journeys about two months in advance, but nothing was confirmed by the time we were ready to go. Probably a good thing, because at the last minute, we ditched our Goa plans to go off to Gulmarg and learn how to ski (but that is a story for another post.)

Our journey was still somewhat epic, but in the totally miserable, everyone is stuck on a train for a thousand hours variety. Here, for your viewing pleasure, photos! And please don't travel by train in North India in the foggy months. We learned that the hard way.


We stayed at the Holy Ganges View, which we thought was the same as the Ganges View, which is very posh and much more expensive. However, despite being a budget hotel, the Holy Ganges View is clean, warm, and fairly centrally located.

I got my coffee fix at the Open Hand Cafe and the identical menu rip-off Mark Cafe opposite.

Pretty good firang type meals all over Assi Ghaat, but also had great street food just by stopping anywhere there was a kadhai and a throng of people. 

So, we've lost a day in Benares thanks to the late train, and as soon as we wake up the next day, we make our way to a sign that says, "Green Lassi" and get ourselves very mildly baked. After this, we are, of course, HIGHLY suggestible, so when a man attaches himself to us, we don't even have the wherewithal to shoo him away. Instead, he hounds us into a sari shop where I almost spend three grand on a synthetic sari which was very ugly in retrospect, and then, to up his guide chops, takes us to some random temple, not even famous or anything, where there is this cement skull, which we spend some time giggling over. Bhaang is fun.

The highlight of this trip was meeting this baby goat. I asked the man who had her what her name was and he said, "Chanchan" and everyone laughed and the Good Thing and I have been checking out baby goats so we can have one at home also called Chanchan. (Note: this has not stopped me from eating mutton. Mutton and Chanchan are two different things.) Can goats be litter trained?

So this dude took us to a chaat place, but mostly because I said, "I want to go to a chaat place." (He's also been calling the Good Thing ever since, but I think that's because he thinks we're reliable suckers.) 

Walking through the alleys of Benares. My stoned-ness had worn off by this point, so I felt a lot less loving.

More alleys. At this point I'm like, "LALALALACOLDNOW CAN WE GO HOME." But we can't go home, because we're taking a boat ride, dammit! As one does in Benares.

The Good Thing was totally Puppy Baba, if such a Baba existed. All the little strays flocked to him. My heart broke in teeny tiny pieces.

More lanes and colour and shit. India! Colour!

Here's the mighty Ganga, looking deceptively unfoggy, but HOLY SHITBALLS WAS IT COLD 

Guide/hanger on on left with Boat Mafia Guy on right negotiating prices. Want to guess how much over market price we paid? BENARES YOUR LASSIS ARE PART OF THE SCAM.

Row row row your boat gently down the STREAM OF DEATH.

Whee! Ghats! 
Whee! Tanks!

Whee! Cremations! (Another dude got into the boat to ask for money at this point. I managed to shoo him away.) (UGH THE WORST PART ABOUT TRAVELLING IN TOURIST TOWN INDIA IS EVERYONE ASKING FOR MONEY ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. Normally, I am saved because brown = cheap, but the Good Thing-and-Me combination must've broken all those rules.) 

Sunset aartis were not ruined by all the touts, however.

Also, I liked the carvings and shit. This is the next day. We went for a long walk and I found my lost temper and was happy for it.

But obviously the puppies won the day.

Old school windows are every amateur photographer's dream.

Boys playing pithoo around an old temple.

And back to the station! Merry Christmas, all! This is how we spent it--in deep despairing fog.

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The Top Seven Dudes I'd Most Like To Bang In Literary History

15 January 2015


   Mr Rochester, Jane Eyre: Mr Rochester had everything going for him to keep a reader hooked from beginning to end. From his mad wife in the attic (spoiler!) to his love for plain Jane, to the tragic way he goes blind at the end, I’d love to walk about the moors with him—in more ways than one.

Favourite line: I offer you my hand, my heart. Jane, I ask you to pass through life at my side. You are my equal and my likeness. Will you marry me? 


Mr Darcy, Pride And Prejudice: Mr Darcy, Mr Darcy. Whether it’s Colin Firth playing him as the moody, sullen man who comes around because of TRUE LOVE, or just your imagination filling in the blanks, who could deny this love story about a rich but proud man and a poor but smart woman and everything that happened in between? 

Favourite line: "In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." 


Holden Caulfield, The Catcher In The Rye: Holden was more of a teenage romance, the boy you gazed at in class, the boy who you wanted to comfort and reassure that the world wasn’t terrible. He tries to run away with a girl he knows, but she rejects him. You wouldn’t, would you?

Favourite line: I was half in love with her by the time we sat down.  That's the thing about girls.  Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.  Girls.  Jesus Christ.  They can drive you crazy.  They really can.”


    Rhett Butler, Gone With The Wind: This swoony Southern novel has everything you need for a good, old fashioned drama. Not least of all, the tale of Rhett Butler, who loved Scarlett O’Hara, who was foolish enough to spend her life pining for a wimpy man married to her best friend. Sounds like a high school romance? Most of this book is, except set during the Civil War times.

 Favourite line: “No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”


Laurie, Little Women: Is there anyone on this great, big planet who wasn’t disappointed when Jo March went for an old German professor as opposed to Laurie,  her lively best friend from next door? And then Laurie went and married Jo’s sister, Amy, which was complete and utter betrayal. Regardless, some of Laurie and Amy’s romancing was quite sweet, even if she did steal her sister’s boyfriend. (I never liked Amy.)

Favourite line: “ Someday you’ll find a man, a good man, and you’ll love him, and marry him, and live and die for him. And I’ll be hanged if I stand by and watch.”


Gilbert Blythe, Anne of The Island: Gilbert Blythe doesn’t get the best introduction, as he meets our heroine by calling her names for her red hair. But over the years—and the books—he redeems himself, even when she claims to be in love with someone else. The two truly have a happy ever after, with lots of children and grandchildren. 


Favourite line: “I have a dream,” he said slowly. “I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends – and you!”


Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird: Atticus Finch had no great romance in this classic book about America’s South, but didn’t he just seem like the best person ever? Sure, you’d have to put up with his two kids, but they seemed nice, and he was just so awesome with his progressive thinking and his amazing lawyering.  Move over, Harvey Whatsyourname.

Favourite line: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

(A version of this appeared in Popxo.com)
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eM's list of supereasy New Year's Resolutions

12 January 2015

It’s the beginning of the New Year, all the parties are winding down, it’s cold outside (if you live in the North) and it’s about the time when I become an unseasonable grump. My head hurts from too many late nights, my bank balance dips from travelling and eating out and all that nonsense and worst of all, I am always constantly cold so unless I snuggle up to the room heater all day, I remain a shivering mess. However, there are a few nice things to be said about a New Year. Possibilities. Ideas. A sense of blank pages and what will the future hold? Technically you could feel this way any time of the year, even May 5 if you felt like it, because the future will always be somewhat mysterious whether you’re an astrologer or a stock trader.

But no one cares about resolutions at any other time except the first week of the month, so I decided to draw up a few general—let’s call them—guidelines, to get us through 2015, this cold snap and to pleasanter weather ahead.

Resolution One: I will not click on any link that looks like it’s going to anger me because of the stupidity of the author.  This morning I saw a story titled “How my marriage went wrong” and began with a woman saying, “Yes, my husband cheated on me, but I could have been a better wife.” I felt my blood pressure start to rise as I almost clicked on it, and then thought better of it. Why engage with trolls and morons this year? Stay above and out of the fray and you’ll be a better person for it.

Resolution Two: I will change the things I can. Okay, so this resolution and the next is somewhat borrowed from the Serenity Prayer that Alcoholics Anonymous uses, but it’s so relevant even for the rest of us. See someone spitting on the road? Instead of crinkling up your nose and walking by, make a stink about it. Think that your boss is taking you for granted? You’re never going to get anywhere by being silent about it. Speak up, speak more this year. Even if it IS to tell your friend that you don't care for her boyfriend. (NB: Don't do this if they're getting married, because you will then be cast in Bitch From Hell role and blamed for their marital problems.)

Resolution Three: I will be patient about the things I cannot change. Traffic jams, bill payments, the state of the country, there are some things you just cannot influence no matter how hard you want to. Again, don’t waste your breath getting angry. Take a chill pill (or a Xanax), relax and let someone else deal.

Resolution Four: I will say “no” more often. Granted, this is more often a problem for women than men, because we’ve been nicely socialised our whole lives to be useful and good and what not, but it’s an important one. Learning to say no is the same as learning to let go—you’ll have a sense of freedom, and once you get past your own mental mindblocks (“How can I tell my twelve-year-old son to make his own sandwich? He’ll think I don’t love him anymore.”) you’ll be much prouder of yourself and feel like a new person.

Resolution Five: I will be kind. Seriously people. We need more kindness. We need a world where everything is not driven by you-did-this-to-me-so-now-I’ll-do-this-to-you. We need a world where you do something nice for someone else just because, and not because of any ulterior motives. Be nice. Be kind. It doesn’t have to be a random act for a stranger either. I’m sure there’s someone you know—a friend, a family member—who could do with a little love right now. Extend your hand, and you’ll be surprised who reaches out to take it.

Resolution Six: I will be informed. This obviously doesn’t apply to you, dear reader, because you’re probably already reading this in a newspaper, but so many of us are shockingly unaware of things that are going on in this world. I propose a daily new thing, where you inform yourself about one current affair going on in the globe that you normally wouldn’t know about. By the end of the year, voila! You’re the most educated person you know.

Resolution Seven: I will have a sense of humour. Maybe this doesn’t need to be a resolution, but it still bears repeating. Let’s look on the funny side of life. We need to laugh more and often. We need to stop being offended and start being amused. Life is funnier, and sadder, and more manic than you think—but you only get one, and you only get one 2015, so to quote the poem by Mary Oliver:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

(A version of this ran as my Civil Society column for Financial Chronicle.)
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TC Tribute Week: Skuin Who Won Our Hearts And Disappeared

19 December 2014

Today's post by a writer I admire very much (and who wrote to tell me about her cat after TC went). Janice Pariat may be a name you're familiar with already (and if you're not, get reading!). This is a story about her cat, Skuin, who was there one day and then not. Some cats just show up and stay as long as we need them. That is the essence of cat. 

(Previous TC Tribute Week posts here and here. My obituary for TC here.)

She came to me a granted wish.

My X-boyfriend and I had visited Friendicoes in the hope of finding a kitten waiting to be homed. “Come back in two-three weeks,” they told us. And we left, empty-handed, disappointed. I hadn’t imagined it would be difficult. (Worse, I hated to wait.)   

The next day, at work, a colleague called. “Didn't you say you were looking for a kitten?”
She’d found one abandoned in a suitcase, in a building somewhere in Lajpat Nagar. Mewing crazily.

She was tiny, about a month old, with stripe-spotted grey fur, and the sweetest, saddest black eyes. We fed her on a diet of watery Cerelac, pooled in our palms, from where she’d lap it all up, her tongue pink and rough. 

“Skuin,” said X when I asked if he had any names in mind. “No, no,” I protested. I didn't want our cat to be called the Khasi word for ‘cute’. But, as these things do, it stuck. We gave her a cardboard box, X’s softest sweater, a hot water bottle, and she promptly abandoned them all to sleep in the crook of my arm, or under my chin, snuggling into my neck like a small luxury fur scarf. She grew and fattened rapidly, slipping into our lives—as cats tend to do—so easily. While I was at work, X told me, she spent most of her time (as I suspect he did) basking belly up on the bed in the Delhi heat, snoozing. But she always met me at the door. 

Skuin grew increasingly prettier too—her chest necklaced by three curving stripes, while the spots on her sides darkened, like a little leopard. Oddly enough, she was most intimidated by the world beyond our doorstep; timidly sniffing the outside air and then dashing back inside at the barest hint of ‘danger’. The only time she did venture into the backyard, she was chased and bitten by a terrifyingly huge tom cat. I remember spending hours trying to coax her out of the electricity metre box in which she hid, on all fours, making cajoling noises, calling her name. Only a few days later did we realise that what we thought was a swollen bruise on her hind leg was a pocket of pus. For the next three weeks, we were at Friendicos every morning at eight. The vet would slip a needle through the gash in her skin, and drain the liquid, while she howled. My heart broke every time. But tough as ever, she got better.  

At the end of that year, X and I moved back to Shillong, Skuin in tow. It wasn't easy. For those of you who’ve travelled to this part of the world, you know it’s a two and a half hour flight to Guwahati, and then a four-five hour drive up the hills into Shillong. By the time we reached Nongpoh, we let her out of her basket, free to clamber the seats and us (not a good idea, but you try sitting in a car that long with a constantly wailing cat).

She was ecstatic, to put it mildly, in my parents house. From a relatively tiny flat in Kailash Colony, she now had not one but two floors in which to wreck general chaos. And a long flight of stairs to tear down chased by invisible pursuers. My favourite memory is crumpling paper and throwing it for her to ‘fetch’ (she had the soul of a dog). In the evenings, she’d curl up on my bed, and slowly inch her way under my blanket. X, who lived with his parents about twenty minutes away, would visit, but she felt like my cat now. It was the time I discovered Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and I liked to think of Skuin as my very own daemon. She’d chatter back at me when scolded, snooze on the book print-outs I was editing, follow me to the loo (!), and drape herself over my bookshelf as I worked.

One night, Skuin slipped through an accidentally left open door and never returned. I don’t quite know what prompted her to venture out. A sense of adventure, or sudden curiosity. True, she’d grown far more interested in the outside world in Shillong—sometimes trying to creep out through the window grills. We searched far and wide, and for many, many days. We left out food bowls that I was excited to find empty in the morning, only to discover they’d been finished by a black-and-white stray. It didn't help that we had a pine forest behind our house stretching over several hills. We placed an advert in the local newspaper, stuck “missing” posters all around the colony, received several prank calls (mean), headed out to people’s homes only to find they’d caught the wrong cat.

I guess what I’ll never have is closure. And for months and months after she vanished the not knowing would become too much. “This is worse than her dying,” I’d weep. But now, four years later, I realise that this incompleteness only allows for more imaginings—that she’s free and happy in the forest, running wild, leading a pack of kindred kitties. I will always imagine her alive.   

(Janice Pariat is the author of Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories, and Seahorse: A Novel. Currently she lives between too many cities to keep pets, but is happy to cat-sit for you. Send her a tweet on @janicepariat
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TC Tribute Week: JP, a.k.a The Cat Of Many Names

17 December 2014

(The second story in my TC Tribute Week comes from my friend, avowed cat person and seriously amazing baker. You may know her as the girl behind 50 Dates In Delhi. Her cat is stocky and gorgeous, and as she mentions somewhere in the piece, a big fan of the Good Thing, whose approach to cats is to pick them up and hold them till they can't move and have to submit to loving. (It only works with him, don't try this at home.) 

Some friends are just spot-on cat people, and so when they come home, you don't have to go through cat introductions. They know how to tickle a gentleman under his chin, how to wait till a lady is comfortable enough to stick her nose into her handbag. Fifty Dates is just such a friend, and here is her story. 

Here's the previous story in TC Tribute Week. Here's my post about his passing.) 

I think I first fell madly for cats when I read 'The Cat Whole Walked By Himself' in Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. There was something about that cat--aloof and exploitative--that just spoke to me. Possibly because I am a sucker for aloof and exploitative creatures? 

I've had many cats. When I was in my early teens we had Jojo, a little grey tabby I rescued from the garden. She loves our dog Andie--it was a mutual love--and whenever Andie was taken on her walk, Jojo would appear and walk underneath her, tail tickling Andie's belly. Then we had Marmalade, who fell out of a tree, and Salt and Pepper, who came home from the shelter sick and didn't make it a week. Then there were Tommy and Tuppence--Tommy was my first ever boycat. Little did I know what was coming! Tuppence had kittens twice, and one of her kittens stayed, Peekaboo I sentimentally named her after a cartoon cat. Then my parents moved house and left Peekaboo behind, and I had no cat for years.
I often dreamt of having cats again. There's nothing more comforting that warm fuzzy purring ball in your lap. I swore to myself that when I lived on my own again I'd get one. But in New York I was scared of laws and what if i left (which I did). I never had a cat friendly flatmate after that, and my life always felt too transitory too. But when, in 2012, I was living on my own in Delhi, I decided it was time. It really was time to stop moaning and pining and to go get me a kitten. And I did. 
He was mostly white ('Didi, khargosh jaisa hai!' exclaimed my maid in delight) with orange patches and he was hugely cuddly. We called him Crotchcat because he simply had to always be in a lap. He'd thump into bed at night, ten minutes after the lights went out, like clockwork, and then burrow down into my quilt and purr. I had six glorious months to the soundtrack of that purr, and then one day he just wasn't there any more. I don't know where he went. A friend and a cousin and I patrolled Nilgiri apartments asking children if they'd seen him and rattling his food bowl with Whiskas in it calling for him for a whole week. I like to imagine him in Jahapanah City Forest, king of the jungle, single-handedly decimating Alaknanda's pigeon population.
And I was, once again, catless. Until February 2014, when a little grey fuzzball entered my life. Purring constantly, Jinx, who has now amassed a collection of aliases to rival the CIA, is Kipling's cat. He is the one in charge. He knows arcane secrets, like how to stop 'mow'ing, but he will only share them with me if I pay a price. He will sleep in my bed, if he's cold, and if I dare move then he's gone. He will do as he do do and there's no doing anything about it. He likes some people (he LOVES The Good Thing), and then only one at a time and when he wants them. He will permit me to have parties but will sit atop a lofty perch and judge all of us. He will cuddle, but only one a month and for five minutes. He will eat like he's starving and he will puke, but that doesn't mean I get to cut down his serving size.

But, unlike Kipling's cat or the Rum Tum Tugger, he will come at me screaming when I get home from work, and twine himself around my legs so I nearly trip (every. single. time.). He will play by himself, but I must be awake and cognizant of his existence, so he can pop by and rub against me a bit when he feels like it. I shudder to think of the reception I'll have when I get back from this trip!
JP brings home the lesson of cats--they are not humans and they are not dogs. They are indeed affectionate and loving, but they don't do it on demand for you when you want it. They are equals who reserve the right to relate to you the way they want to. Yeah, yeah, you want me on your pillow purring but I am going to rub my head in your face instead. Because I love you. Just like you pick me up and squeeze me, because you love me.
And for all the 5am wake up head butts, and the occasional pooping on the sides of the litterbox and dear god the 'mow'ing when I'm in the shower, I cannot imagine my life without my best beloved crankypants clichecat. Who perches on the edge of the litterbox with all four paws and poops like a human. To drive the point home.
(JP's human likes cats, cooking, cold weather and whiskey. She writes at www.50datesindelhi.com.  Follow her on Twitter at @50datesinDelhi)
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TC Tribute Week: The Story of Laddu

15 December 2014

(After TC passed, I began thinking a lot about our relationships with our pets. How it can be one of the closest, most emotional partnerships you can have and yet, how so few people can know that part of you. Messages and comments about other people's beloved animals came pouring in privately to me and that's what gave me the idea of having a TC Tribute Week here on the blog. I got four writers and cat owners to write about their fantastic felines for me--some gone over to the other side, some still with us and living to delight, and I will be posting those over the space of this week. If you'd like to leave your stories of pet loving in the comments, please do, so we can all be unashamedly loving about our companions this week. I'm sorry for leaving out dogs in this tribute, but dogs already get so much good press, it's time our cats got a chance too.

First, we have a Twitter friend of mine, Khizra Munir, whose cat, Laddu, has the same thing that TC does. Did. I follow Laddu's journey on Instagram and Twitter--all CRF survivors are bound together by how little we can do about the disease, and I also get great pleasure out of Khizra's descriptions of her crazy cat life, with FIVE at home.) 

 One of the most difficult parts of being a person to a cat or dog is that you have a heartbreaking rough estimate of exactly how long this relationship is going to last. If your pet manages to make it unscathed by illness. For a year now I’ve been making daily (now every other day) trips to the vet with my 9 year old tabby, Laddu. 

Three days a week my quivering ‘baby’ and I make the somber drive to the vet, are instantly recognized and directed inside where our set up of a saline sub-q(drip) is ready. He shivers through the whole ordeal, with his head hiding in the crook of my shoulder.

But, on the drive home, he’s back to his normal self; he purrs, grooms, and occasionally walks around doling out head bumps. He knows we’re going back home.

This commitment of time and effort…we didn’t sign up for this. I don’t think anyone does. But we all understand that it comes with the territory. The same way parents understand that with the milestones and joy, there is also heartbreak and illness to deal with. A year ago when our vet, who adores Laddu, quietly told us his Kidneys were failing, my mother and I cried. Standing there in the middle of her clinic, we cried for our poor baby, who was already such a trooper as a blind cat. At that moment, it just seemed so unfair that this was happening to him.

We also cried because we understood that there was no cure for this. There was only a way to slow down the process, if we were lucky to have him respond to the IVs. And we were. He responded with a “Yes, I want to live” attitude!

Laddu is a beautiful tabby with some hints of shady business in his breeding which is evident in his extra fluffiness and poofy tail. He literally walked into our home as a stray and decided to stay. He is now the love of our lives, the light of my mother’s eyes and the extortionist who gets a claim on a portion of food from all our plates. It’s this love that toughened up our resolve to try everything in our power to give Laddu a fight, until he was willing. 

I’m happy to report that apart from the half an hour of discomfort every other day, Laddu’s quality of life is at its optimum. He’s the first to bound into the kitchen in the mornings for his breakfast, the last one to leave because he knows we sneak him treats when the other cats are gone. He has his favorite spots, like the well-worn round settee which no one else is allowed to sit on. He has his mommy-time; when my mother takes a break from her chores and he’ll follow her voice to where she is on the couch (remember he’s blind). He’s the undisputed King of our castle. 

But Laddu isn’t our only cat-baby. There are four more; four more egos to manage, four more strong personalities to cater to, four more lives we are responsible for. 

Laddu’s cat-siblings are four absolutely adorable beings who cannot speak for themselves, and who trust us blindly to make the right decision for them. And that is the most difficult part in this dynamic; knowing that every decision you make has to be the right decision because they can’t make their own. Which vet to go to? Which food brand to use? Should I get that vaccine which causes fever? Should I get her the shot even though she seems normal? Is she unwell or just being lazy? There’s so much that requires just taking wild guesses from knowing them and their distinctive personalities.  The relationship between us and our cats is complex. There’s no one giving out nods of approval and unlike with kids, there is no reference point to compare with by calling up other cat-parents for advice. You do seek out advice, but ultimately, we’re all just taking wild guesses on what our pet wants or is trying to say. Sometimes we get it wrong, but thankfully, most times we get it right. You’ve just got to remember that pets aren’t accessories to show off. They aren’t just show pieces. They are living, breathing little four legged babies who will never grow up enough to speak for themselves. They will also rarely turn around with an “I love you, Mom!” But once you’re in, you’ll find your own cues for understanding that you’re doing just fine. 

And with cats, that’s more that you can ask for; the pleasure is all ours!

(Khizra Munir is a Karachi based Creative Director and Strategy Consultant, whose ACTUAL full time job is to ensure that cats get their right place in society; as the bosses of us!  Follow her on Twitter at @KhizM)

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