On the second night, after we checked into a little hotel in the village of Badami, which sits in the midst of a region of ancient Hindu ruins, many of which are not ruined at all, I heard the cry of a kitten.
I stepped into a nicely kept lawn surrounded by the "u" shaped hotel on three sides and a swimming pool on the fourth. A man sat, eating, at a table.
"Did you hear a kitten?" I asked him.
"Oh yes," he said. "It will show up soon." And it did. But it was wild and frightened, and neither Tryskuit or I could draw near to it. I failed to get a picture.
At the end of the third day, we turned back toward Bangalore on a drive that would last all through the night.
As we rolled down the busy Indian Highway, lightning blasting around us, my mind frequently turned to the Momma and her babies. I wondered how they were doing. I worried, but then I worry about many things. I consoled myself that they would be fine.
When we arrived back at the house at about 5:00 AM, I listened, but could hear no cats. Trusting that this meant that they were asleep, I went to sleep myself for a few hours - as did everybody else.
About 9:00 AM, I was woken by the forlorn and lonely "meow" of Momma cat. I listened, but did not hear the answer of a kitten in return.
Tryskuit and I then searched and searched, but we could find no sign of the kittens. We asked those who had stayed behind, and they said they had seen both kittens the day before, but not today.
Then, as I downloaded the trip pictures from my camera into the laptop, the woman next door, the one who had been feeding Momma cat, opened her door. There, standing beside her, next to her very own bowl of milk, was the orange kitten.
The woman had not seen the calico, but had heard a bit of commotion, found the orange kitten on the ground and had brought it into her house for its safety. I understood that she would now adopt it, even as she continued to feed the mother.
We continued to search. We put out our inquiry as to the whereabouts of the calico as far as we could - then we learned the horrid news. It had been eaten by a street dog.
Look at the Momma! How she did cry. No tears - but she cried. Her pain was bitter. I petted her and petted her, as did Tryskuit in turn. She seemed to take some solace in those pets, but they did not wipe away her pain.
I felt as though I had been kicked in the chest. Tears came to my own eyes. I did not let them linger, for to do so would do no one any good.
Little One: I saw your great desire to live - I saw it in your eager posture, the glow in your eye, the plea in your meow. I saw you frightened, and alone, when your mother and your orange sibling got stuck in the little building and, with Tryskuit at my side and Buddy amused but eager to help, we did not stop our efforts for you until you were reunited with your family.
Then I saw your relief, your joy, and how quickly you put the fright behind you as you romped with your sibling, and suckled your mother.
I did all that I could for you, Little Kitten, but it was not enough.
How I wanted to pull you in and give you shelter of the safest kind, but I was not in a position to do so. How I wanted to pick you up, hold you, stroke you, comfort you, but I did not want to frighten you so I never did.
Some who will visit this page will say that you are at the Rainbow Bridge. For those who find comfort in the thought of such a bridge, where the spirits of deceased pets play and romp until that day when they can be reunited with their humans, fine, that is all very good and I encourage you to take your comfort there, for comfort should be taken where it can be found.
Thoughts of such a bridge do not comfort me, for those thoughts slam into hard reality.
Those who I was with at the time of your death believe that you will come back again, in another body, another form, perhaps human, again and again until at last you are perfected into ultimate happiness and glory.
To me, you were perfect already.
As stated in my previous post, I have but one source of solace. That is the happiness that I saw when you and your family were all reunited, when you suckled at your mother's teat. For that moment, which I helped to create for you, as did Tryskuit and Buddy, all was well. For that moment, the world was a warm and beautiful place.
In this matter, that knowledge is my sole solace.