Today my car was smelling of cat once again.
It cannot be of course, because its been days, weeks even, since he travelled, lying prostrate on the back seat, rolled up in towels, set on newspapers to protect the seat from getting wet. His smell used to pervade the car then. I had to open the window and drive for miles to make the car smell a trifle car-like, the way it is supposed to smell.
He was born right next to me; in fact, I would have crushed him if I had rolled over. The mother had hardly met me before so I do not know how she found me trustworthy enough to birth next to my body. He was 'it' then of course, a mousy little creature, naked skin, red, almost ugly, other than that it wasnt because it was a minutes old little cat, Gods creation, the miracle of birth, which I got to witness, and it made me cry. That ugly little critter made me cry out of sheer amazement at the beauty in this world.
Dont really think he knew me at all. For one I hardly saw him after that. Second, he and his brother were growing up, they had all the energy and mischief that little cats have, bounding all over the place, scratching, tearing, falling, rolling. Who has the time for human beings who sit and sip coffee and smile at antics like a matron.
And then he fell from the roof. Not yet a year old, no one knows what he was doing on the third floor cornice. Or how he fell. When he was found, he was not moving. Something had happened to his spine. His legs were not moving, nor his tail. He was eating and his bodily functions were fine. He was probably in shock for days, not showing any signs of pain. We took him to the vet. They were not encouraging, but not discouraging either. X rays were taken. Medicines prescribed. Homoeopathy, steroids... his adoptive parent spent hours drying him with hair dryers and finding innovative ways to feed him the terrible tasting medicine. He showed signs of recovery, moving his legs, twitching his tail. And I kept saying, hell, its a cat, they survive everything.
Then one day I heard that he died. Just like that. When slowly we were hoping he would walk soon, when we knew that he is going his way up the path of recovery, he died, basking in the sun, in his little basket. He is buried under a huge oak tree. He was loved and cared for while he lived, he was cried for when he died. Some humans cannot boast of this honour.
I was not his caretaker. I had not taken him in from the street, so to say. I was just a passive audience to his growth. No one could threaten me into taking care of animals. I do not much like pets. All the extra work! But when he fell ill, he learnt to recognise the car in which he travelled to the doctor. He learnt to recognise me, my voice, as I kept reassuring him, when he would be alone with me. He would purr to glory when I got over my own obsessive compulsive fears and cuddled him. He stopped bringing out his claws whenever I picked him. He started laying his head on my lap when I sat next to him.
And then he died. The only cat that ever loved me. The only animal that ever loved me. And sometimes, I still smell him in my car.