She hurried over, wrapped her fingers gently around the surprised kitten, and raised it up to embrace and caress it.
The kitten was not really in a caressing mood, but Vidya still loved the way it felt as it squirmed about in her hands. Husband Vijay, just to the right, captured the moment on his cell phone.
The kitten returned to a comfy place in the magazines and gave itself a good licking.
Then it set about to roam around, and to use the Magazine Store merchanize to sharpen its claws. I don't know what it does to the value of a magazine when a customer finds the pages frayed by kitten claws, but it seems like, in the Magazine Store, home to 10 Persian cats, claw marks ought to make any magazine worth ten times what it would be without them.
The kitten runs about some more. My Good Nephew Vijay could step on it, if he should want to, but, as I say, he is a good nephew and he does not want to step on the kitten. Both Vidya and Vijay believe that people should not harm or hurt animals for any cause. The thought of eating one is unthinkable.
Sometimes I tell Vidya about life in Alaska, about how people hunt for food. She understands that life is different here and people have to eat and animals - caribou, moose, seals, whales, walrus, fish, ducks, geese, etc. - are the food of this land, but the thought does not please her.
"Survival of the fittest," she laments.
When we chat, she will ask me what I had for dinner. If by chance it was a meatless dinner, she is always very pleased.
Although she had come to the Magazine Store resigned to the fact that when she left, no kitten would leave with her, Vidya had fallen so deeply in love with the little brown kitten that she could not stop herself from asking the store owner, seen here between her and Vijay, if maybe, just please, would it be all right, if it was all right, if maybe she could have that little kitten for her own?
After all, he has nine other cats there, and Vidya has no cats at home.
"No," the store owner tells her. He does not sell cats nor give them away. Once he takes a cat in, he says, that cat has a home for life.
As I mentioned yesterday, back in her native Chennai, Vidya lived in the midst of cats. They spent time at her house and ate food that the family gave them. One was Gucchi, a tabby, and she was particularly fond of it. There was a calico, too, and others, and she loved them all. Then, just before she got married, a curious thing happened.
"Gucchi absconded," Good Niece Vidya laments. "I have this feeling that all my cats were aware that I am supposed to leave the house after the wedding, so they started moving one by one... I don't know what to call it, cat instinct or what?"
After the wedding, she moved in with Vijay's family, who had never viewed animals as pets. They were not ready to take a cat into the house. It is not that animals never entered the house, which has three stories and on the second there is a very lovely veranda with a door made of wrought iron bars, spaced close enough together to keep the big monkeys out.
This seems to irritate the big monkeys, so, when they get the chance, they pick up the baby monkeys, shove them through the bars and then those little monkeys run about the house to loot and pillage.
There is a mango tree just outside the house. Just before the mangos are ready to be picked, the monkeys come. They pick the mangos one at a time. They take just one bite, decide that mango is not good enough for them, throw it away, pluck another and do the same.
There is a hanging basket chair made of bamboo on that veranda and it just may be the most comfortable chair that I have ever sat in. Or maybe it just seems that way, because here I was, down from Alaska, sitting out in darkness in open air, fragrant with the lovely scent of tropical flowers and that air was warm and it wasn't filled with mosquitoes.
This just does not happen in Alaska. Here, you can experience air that is dark, air that is warm and air that is mosquito free, but never all at once.
No, never. So maybe that's why the chair seemed so comfortable. Or maybe it actually was the most comfortable chair that I have ever sat in.
Anyway, I sat in that chair as Vidya leaned against the railing and told me of her great longing to have a cat; about how nice it would be, how much she loves animals. Suddenly, a handsome, healthy-looking orange tabby with a white face, white breast, white boots and white tip of the tail sprang out of the darkness onto the veranda, scurried with purpose right between us, leaped up on this and that and then disappeared onto the roof.
It happened so quickly that the cat was gone before I could even lift my camera.
A few minutes later, the cat suddenly appeared again, going in the opposite direction. As I reached for my camera, it again scurried between us, then leapt off the veranda to some perch or landing place that it could see but I could not. It disappeared into the night before I could fire a single frame.
Please remember: To see larger versions of post pictures, simply click on the desired image.