I wasn’t physically around when Kallu first entered my life. My family had moved into a new house in the outskirts of Kochi and were figuring out their lives away from the noise of the city. I was living in Chennai at that point and was in a middle-of-the-semester funk that comes with studying the Social Sciences. He came up in a conversation my mother and I were having one day.
“Achan has started feeding milk to these two kittens and their mother. They’ll start coming around and annoying us everyday now.”
I didn’t think it possible. Stray cats it seemed to me, had very active social lives. They moved across families and homes, finding things to eat from everywhere, being petted and shooed alternatively. The next time I called my mother, she said Achan was playing with one of the kittens near the kitchen entrance.
The next time I made a video call home and we ran out of the usual - Hi. Hello. How’s the weather? Did you eat? What did you eat?- my mother pointed the camera towards one of the cats that my father was playing with.
“Have you named the cat?”
“This is Kalyani and that is Narayani. Kallu and Naanu for short.”
We all laughed because only my dad could come up with such an old-fashioned name for the cats. Kallu was the one that attached itself completely to my family. He soon became the go-to topic every time I called home. For a family that is super non-confrontational and don’t know how to talk to each other, Kallu’s antics and the things Kallu did and didn’t do, became conversation fodder. It helped us talk to each other.
Kallu moved into our house. My brother bought her a plate to eat from and my mother made her a bed to sleep on. Regardless of the bed, she has slept on every surface area in our house, including our bodies. Personally, I have never been a fan of animals, choosing to stay away from them at most point of times in life but this little cat changed a lot of that.
At first, I used to like to play with her from a safe distance. Slowly, she started climbing over me and I kept shooing her away then. Finally, she slept on my stomach when I took a nap one day and we were so comfortable in each other’s company that it didn’t matter.
From a state of mind where I didn’t care so much about this stray cat, to the point where during the floods in Kerala recently, I cried when my mother told me how they had to leave Kallu at home for a day when the rains got a little too intense and they had to move to another relative’s house; Kallu and I have come a long way. There was no option to take her there, she would have freaked out if they took her in a car to another apartment. But it still pained me to think of her alone in that house.
Of course, it’s all fine now. The rain has reduced, my family is back home and Kallu is happily sleeping on my dad’s lap. Everything is good. I love this stupid little stray cat. Our Kallu.
Author - Vandana Devi