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That House That Age — Chapter 17
It dawned on Rano’s mind that animals have a definite role to play in man’s life. Man’s eating beef and pork and innumerable chickens daily produce effects not only on his body and mind but in his character and personality. Though man is animal to a good extent as he carries it in his evolutionary position; in the scale of evolution, he is raised higher than animal. But animality percolates more in man by ingesting animal flesh and blood and bone. Fish too is an animal. Not that fish eating is devoid of any effect but those being smaller animals growing naturally and easily unless their symbiotic relationship is ditched by man’s landing on water or for creating abnormal pressure on fish life, eating fish does not make a great difference. True that fish including animal flesh have food values. Any complication for eating fish is compensated by its contribution to man’s diet, mostly beneficial. But this fish eating too may be dispensed with if required for a yet better life. From the beginning of the world “Eater Eating is being Eaten”, system continues. Man too, is part of this system. However sophisticated in nature and however subtle in relationship with Nature, by some adjustments man may become an ideal animal among the animals. There is no doubt that he still follows a barbaric rule. Man’s relationship with animal is basically eater and eaten or master and servant. It is bestial indeed. Let us consider a betterment of this relationship. In short it may be said that eating may be much regulated, those who don’t require for their body meat eating may easily be substituted by alternative items available in Nature. Destroying animals for eating apart they are destroyed many times for fun, for other purposes like experimenting or skinning them for fancy materials. Such activities are surely below the animal standard. Even if one may not abstain from eating animal flesh altogether, they can reduce eating them compensating their diets with alternative items. When higher ethical and moral considerations have induced man to rescue rodents, rabbits and guinea pigs from torture as objects of laboratory experiments why not that will be extended to animals like cattle, pig, goat, ram, chicken and such animals. It may symbolically be conjured that those tortured animals may create a condition which becomes retaliatory towards man to lead him downwards in the scale of evolutionary march, even symbolically, in the course of time. Man has already seen that many things and happenings are beyond his comprehension in spite of all scientific developments. Nature itself is the greatest wonder and challenge to him, a product of Nature.
Not just eating but archive load of materials is stored about the man-animal relationship, favourable and unfavourable. Fables and innumerable myths around animals, stories and other write ups galore teach man of animal’s role in human life. Rano has written tons on them; flying, swimming, running, jumping and sitting animals. Besides other things the sheer beauty, quality and utility of some animals encourage man to imitate them; birds helped man to project flying in aircrafts, termites helped him to plan proper housing, lions and tigers ever remain symbols of courage and jackals symbol of cleverness. There is no end to compare and continue. Among animals cats have a special role in human lives. In ancient Egypt a dying man was sometimes left in his grave with a cat, may be his favourite, to die with him.
Ranadeb considers that while living in their joint family in the old house, crowded as it was by many, cat’s role could not be properly understood. Hungry cats were chased as they stole man’s food and naughty boys pushed them from high up resting places to see the fun how they dropped on their feet without being much hurt but disturbed definitely. Those days of him are long past.
Ever since he set up a new house constructed to settle out of Kolkata it became a separate entity with separate existence and consciousness; cats’ roles were immense in that house. His first house was in an area affected by slum life around it, with a garden and surrounding lands. It was an open house with low boundary walls around. Cats had immense freedom in that house; at night it became cathouse. Besides the pets, large numbers of wild cats used to come and sometimes fought; display of enmity between them was a regular affair. At night they spoiled portions of dining tables or may be other furniture which required regular cleaning. Such cats could not be taken away and left at other places at human- will. Once a cat lover who kept constant watch on the movements of cats rebuked Rano as she watched a particular cat’s eyeing him and moving round him thereby suggesting that she was abandoned by him which she strongly disapproved. Ranos had to cook and provide food to all cats which used to come to be fed with the pets. One relief is that the housewife liked cooking for them too.
Cats came and left, were born and died, sometimes they were adopted and sometimes abandoned but, in each group, Rano always had a particular cat remaining as his favorite which didn’t so attract others or others weren’t so attracted by it. A tomcat, Howlu, was such a cat. When it was a small kit all other tomcats attacked it from time to time for the sheer fault of being born in the household as a future tormentor surrounded by female cats. It had to hid and flee, it was sometimes bitten and pawed by its tormentors. It took full revenge when it grew up young and healthy. It beat and bit, tearing the furs from the body of those tomcats which tortured it once. It created a rivalry between Rano’s household cats and those at the next house. Finally, a crooked woman of the neighboring house poisoned it. Animal could not understand the baseness of the woman and died. Animals are animals but man-animals are more crooked animals than the normally innocent animals.
Black cat was a female, sterilized in a cat nursing home, became Rano’s favorite pet. It was very clever and mischievous sometimes. It jumped to his lap and took sweets with him. It kept the slum people at bay, spying on them. They were afraid of that cat and often chased it but it hid itself in their hidden hole.
When Ranos shifted to a new house, there came after some time another new cat from Auroville, Nono or Noko. It was introduced in the house which Ratri, the black cat didn’t like. This leopard coloured cat was tortured by it. It is not a fighter but with patience this sterilized female cat received all punishment for having come. In the course of time out of remorse and grudge Ratri left the house forever.
Bamby was a very veteran old timer female cat which lived for more than twenty years. During the absence of the householders, it had once gone out and met with an accident. After that the housewife introduced Phuli, a road dwelling cat’s newborn kit. It was sterilized and lived happily but it opposed the existence of Nono, the nice pedigreed gentle and good-looking cat; was it for a difference in their class?
Phuli, an all-gray cat, not quite good to look at; was not ready to mix up with the humans much as well as with the other pets. Nono avoided it and got afraid of its aggressive nature. Nono is old timer now. Why this less likeable should be allowed to cow down it? But it became favorite with the housewife. She was happier when it gave birth soon to two kittens. They grew up bigger and joined their mother to tease and try to drive out Nono. While Phuli during a night adventure met with an accident and died on the spot, its kittens too, road faring naughty olds, were unfortunately eaten by feral dogs.
Nono or Noku tries to live always with humans. It loves them and never likes other cats. It is much lovable and good to live with whereas the other two could not mix up with humans. The housewife was in a dilemma. The position was hung in balance as a new tom cat, Saheb, white with brown spots, self-introduced and began living in the house, sleeping on housewife’s bed. It chased and bit the other cats. It didn’t remain always, like its predecessor, Babu, an exceptionally gentle, old guardian tomcat. Things were hanging in cat- balance. If they behaved properly all cats could remain otherwise, they would be shown the door but who comes through the doors? Who goes through them? Something must have to be sort out, Rano pondered over it.
A strange thing happened then; the advent of torturous Corona Viruses made everyone crawl, shrunk in status and stature. Men and women hid somewhere, and cats of the house vanished. But after four months none else than Nono reappeared; as it was so it is; no change in its feature, no sign of its not remaining in the house. It was accepted in the house that it knows magic; it can hide anywhere beyond the sights and can live without foods, defying Nature’s calls. It has been opined that it’s real home is in the occult region beyond approach either by man or cats. None else has come. One or two strays sometimes mews or tries to howl but up to that. They too aren’t seen.
True that cats living with humans influence them. Mostly, at least the pedigreed ones know how to live, give company with humor and playfulness, laziness and sleepiness to humans and even play diplomatically with cats and humans. Living for long with cats it seems to Rano that cats create a kind of their reign, a special atmosphere. Those who live with them adjust with them, know their ways and are benefited on the whole. Nono slept with Rano; sometimes they disagreed but mostly they lived with a new awareness. But Nono has the whole world under its sway now. It sleeps here today and there another day.
Among all qualities soft cats have elastic bodies and supple mind with tendencies to live in touch with the occult. They know to jump over everything without touching or damaging them. They avoid all conflicts and rivalry except in dire circumstances. The psychic relationship with cats helps man to discover another dimension of life; after all, love matters. In a world of disagreement, violence, rivalry and jealousy cat’s existence is soothing valuable, promoting peace and harmony. One has to choose between the good and the bad. As among all living and non-living things, cats too differ from one another. One should select the ones they are likely to live with. More reasons and wonders are there behind this cohabiting with the cats!
Though cats are not very powerful or ambitious or aggressive, they are amicable friends, they know adjustments with men and try to pass their time peacefully with others. If men dream to live a peaceful life with mutual understanding they should try to live with cats. Leaving all other cracies most men live now under democracy. But even in it they gasp under its inherent systemic pressure. Living with cats is living in Catocracy. Under Catocratic system which is an addition to man’s living condition under whatever system he likes; man would live better. Among so many Cracies so far tried Catocracy has not been tried properly. It seems that Catocracy is better than many popular cracies man struggled with and has still been struggling with. Catocracy zindabad!
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