City Life – Two Cats, Paharai Rajaan
Cheeku for Kiwi.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In other news, a household in Old Delhi’s Pahari Rajaan has received a new family member, barely a few days old. The lady of the house is hiding the little one from her husband. This new addition is a kitten, and her husband, she says, dislikes cats.
The lady explains: “I grew up in Kairana in UP. My father, a poet, loved cats. My husband has grown up here in Purani Dilli. His father too was a poet but the family is a traditional kabutarbaaz and so they have a traditional dislike for cats. Cats eat kabutars.”
Even so, the family acquired its first cat a year ago. “I had then somehow convinced my husband to accept the billi.” It helped that their younger son has a passion for animals. “Our billi is named kiwi. The new one is Cheeku. Cheeku is not a billi, but a billa.”
Soon, the kitten enters the room, jumping onto the lady’s lap. The lady’s mobile phone is only slightly smaller than the kitten. “My younger son found Cheeku last week on the stairs outside… we think his maa lives in some other gali and left him in our gali along with his sibling… we gave the other one to my sister in Gali Chamre Wali.”
The kitten’s first days in the new home created tension. Kiwi, who until then was the only pet in the house, felt insecure, and would hit the kitten with her paws. “But Cheeku would hit her back,” the lady says. Eventually, within days, the cat and the kitten became friendly, though both have their own favourites in the house. The older Kiwi sleeps at night with the lady’s younger son, and the kitten sleeps with the lady. Her husband is unaware of the new cat because he sleeps in the lower floor. “When I hear him coming upstairs, I hide Cheeku in the attic.”
Picking up the kitten, the lady says affectionately, “shaitan bachha, so tiny.”
Moments later, the older Kiwi also enters the room, all wet—she just had a hot water bath. The lady turns on the room heater, and the cat and the kitten snuggle into this cozy zone of warmth.