To Nadia, with love

Nadia died on the morning of 3rd December 2013.

She was not my first pet. But for the first time, I am going to allow myself to grieve openly about a pet, because I think I owe it to her. We have all grown up on various notions of how stoicism is the way to go when we are bereaved, and how we must not allow ourselves to break down each time love scars us. Time heals everything, we were told.

For as long as I can remember, cats had always been a part of our life, although we had seldom officially ‘adopted’ them. They had given birth on our feet, in our cupboards and balconies, they have nursed their babies, they have died in battle, they have died in infancy, they have been kidnapped, run over, bitten by snakes, died in our laps. Each time we lost a pet, we cried silently, or didn’t speak for days, our parents pretended to be brave, we went on about our lives and we thought we had healed. But all it took was one memory, one visual reference that reminded us of the one that left us, and the bandage would come off a very painful wound and emotions would come gushing.

So I am sorry, Tipu, Simba, Kimi, Kallu, Chinky, Pushpi, Kuttu, Vinci, Brownie, and various yet-to-be-named kittens who died and found a place in various patches of land that made for our habitat and turned into chikoo or lemon trees or rose bushes as my father deemed fit at the time. Before long, we had forgotten who was the chikoo and who was the rose.

So I have been spending the last few days visiting every memory, every picture, every place that reminds me of Nadia and finally I found the coherence it needs to write a blog-post about her. Because I don’t want to get over her. Because I don’t think I can.

Black magic woman

Black magic woman

Nadia was my first black cat. She is also the first pet I have cremated. It is the first time I collected the ashes of a pet, and labelled it. So it stays, even if memory goes away.

Nadia is also special because she represents my transition from woman to mother. She came into my life just a month before I found out I was pregnant. She was home in an instant.

I am home!

I am home!

It was a new thing for the husband, as he was never allowed to have a pet in his life. He didn’t know then that cats don’t do toys. Neither do they do as told.

I need to be challenged. Can you do better than this?

I need to be challenged. Can you do better than this?

But Nadia felt sorry for him and decided to adopt his favorite place.

Now we are talking

Now we are talking

She soon realised that she had to get on my good side too, hence:

Just in case you thought I was an alcoholic

Just in case you thought I was an alcoholic

A month later, I found out I was pregnant, and we decided to get Nadia a playmate, just in case she felt left out. We got home Bravo, a three-legged piece of art. It was the best decision we ever made, much against public advice.

Okay, this one was a good move. And he also follows instructions

Okay, this one was a good move. And he also follows instructions

Of course we never thought it would go so well.

Good to have someone your size to cuddle with

Good to have someone your size to cuddle with

And sometimes we were jealous too. What about us, we thought?

You know, I don't really care what you think.

You know, I don’t really care what you think.

Soon, Re arrived, and they were a threesome.

Oh look, another playmate!

Oh look, another playmate!

Of course, Nadia also took on additional responsibility, so I could get some sleep. I can never thank her enough for all those free baby-sitting hours.

I kinda like him, so happy to be nanny.

I kinda like him, so happy to be nanny.

But then, she was always rewarded.

Perks of the job

Perks of the job

Well, sometimes in ways she didn’t quite approve of, but always took in her stride.

I'm letting it go for now

I’m letting it go for now

When she wanted to hide, she blended with the landscape, so no one would bother her. Except me of course.

Plus they have good taste

I must say they have good taste

Sometimes she even took to my least favorite spot, just so I would stay away.

She got this desk to write her book. Have never seen her here though. Humans!

She got this desk to write her book. Have never seen her here though. Humans!

Nights were of course, reserved for he-who-must-turn-into-a-potato

He, of course is really committed to his passion.

He, of course is really committed to his passion.

Sometimes, she rewarded him too. She gave the best pedicures, and chances were, if you were a man, you had a better chance earning them. We actually thought of turning it into a business model, but then thought she might like to pick her candidates.

I like rewarding people who burn the midnight oil. Never mind what they are doing.

I like rewarding people who burn the midnight oil. Never mind what they are doing.

He-who-must-be-guarded soon turned out to be a good playmate. Sometimes getting into forbidden territory too.

He seems to have started early. May be he will finish the book faster than his mother.

He seems to have started early. May be he will finish the book faster than his mother.

But then as long as she got her fair share of sun-play, she was happy to play along.

I like boys who get their hands dirty.

I like boys who get their hands dirty.

Plus she liked people who broke the rules.

Or who do food well.

Or who do food well.

Never mind if sometimes she had to take no for an answer

Never mind if I don't get to open their Christmas presents.

What? I don’t get to open Christmas presents?

Plus there was also places she could get to where he couldn’t.

When it gets too much, there is always the outdoors.

When it gets too much, there is always the outdoors.

She had her weaknesses. Yellow melons. Tomatoes. Yoghurt.

Hahaha, the sabziwala didn't even notice!

Hahaha, the sabziwala didn’t even notice!

They should pay me for endorsing this!

They should pay me for endorsing this!

And she always managed her alone-time. A very valuable life-lesson for me. When you want it, go get it.

She doesn't get 'leave me alone', does she?

She doesn’t get ‘leave me alone’, does she?

Sometime last year, a suitable boy made an appearance. She knew she couldn’t make babies, but what was wrong with a little window fling? Especially when it was always in her territory?

So he is well-scrubbed. And not loud. Worth dating!

So he is well-scrubbed. And not loud. Worth dating!

He of course started playing hard to get. Like most idiotic men.

Will he? Won't he?

Will he? Won’t he?

And soon it was Christmas again and he was ‘so last year’.

Wake me up when Christmas is over!

Wake me up when Christmas is over!

She had the art of creating space out of nothing. A lot of space.

Okay, I have put on weight. So has everyone else in this house.

Okay, I have put on weight. So has everyone else in this house.

She even endured Re’s stories on loop. Although she knew that Bravo, being the more mushy, clingy one would always get Re’s attention more.

Now we'll have to endure his stories every day.

Now we’ll have to endure his stories every day.

And sometime last month, she stopped eating. And started throwing up. And there began an unending journey to the vet’s clinic. She didn’t like it one bit, but she did everything she could to not make it harder for us.

I wouldn't have agreed to this, but I rather like Michelle, the doctor.

I wouldn’t have agreed to this, but I rather like Michelle, the doctor.

Her kidneys were badly damaged. She had numbers on her report card that would put any school kid to shame. All values far exceeded anything that was deemed normal. And then one day, she told me, “Enough of this. Leave me alone.” And I did. She left for cat heaven early next morning. She had a full house at her farewell.

Thank you guys for standing by me. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Thank you guys for standing by me. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

The next morning, her boyfriend reappeared. I told him it was too late.

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28 thoughts on “To Nadia, with love

  1. Hi ! Iam so sorry to hear about Nadia! I can feel your pain and your words were so true.Anybody who have a lost a loved on (pet or otherwise) would know this agony! Lived with dogs and cats all my life. Loved many , Lost a few along the way!They never leave our lives, just tags along with us with lovely memories! Be Strong!

  2. Wonderful write up on your cat – I had dogs and understand completely how devastating the loss of a pet can be. Please save some more kitties and weave memories forever.

  3. such a wonderful post! all i can say is, be strong and Live on Nadia in cat heaven.
    brought back memories of my Tuffy… she stayed on with us for a decade. my Dad cried like a baby when she was gone..

  4. Very well written !! As a person who is not very fond of pets and never been with one, I had tears in my eyes reading it.

  5. Brought tears to my eyes. We have three cats at home, and some more pet strays.
    your descriptions of cat behaviour are so lovely! RIP, Nadia, all of us who have read this will remember you

  6. Never had a pet. But it’s almost like I lost someone of my own because through all your posts Nadia and Bravo had become a part of my life too. Beautiful piece!

  7. Dear Lalita, I am a cat lover myself. I too have had many cats and lost many too. But one of our cats, Bingo is simply irreplaceable. He was everything that Nadia was to you. At least you wrote an eulogy to Nadia, I didn’t even do that. You said it right – it is hard to get over these humble creatures. As a regular reader of your blog, I have read about Nadia’s adventures, your love for her and even Re’s conversations with her. She will be terribly missed…

  8. Dear Lalita. We had been meeting at the vets so often, sharing stories about our respective pets, but I never even asked your name (I am the one with a white Japanese Spitz also suffering from renal failure). A chance share on FB of one of your posts led me to your blog.

    My heart goes out for you and your family. I remember seeing you and Nadia the day before she passed away. You were mentioning how she had been feeling better and was more responsive the week before. I don’t have words to ease your pain but I do hope time will fill the gaping hole the loss of a loved one leaves behind, especially a pet who dedicate their lives to fill ours with pure joy and happiness. We lost our pooch the next week and I haven’t been the same since. I wish you all the strength to face this difficult time. My love and wishes to you all.

    • OMG!! That’s so sad. I am really sorry for your loss. Yes, Nadia had made her peace with all the dogs at the clinic and I am sure she and your dog are clinking their glasses in heaven. Hugs to you!

  9. I am not a cat lover .. but your post had me in tears … I lost my 8 month old Lhasa Apso ‘Brownie’ to a never indentified disease … its been years .. and now i have another one ‘Rinchen’ … but the memories of the day she left us all …. never leave me … I know how you feel … and I would lie if I say this will go away with time … it does not .. only becoz we love them too much to let go 🙂 … Let Nadia live with you and you future pets in all memories … happy or sad ! cheers .. ! 🙂 …

  10. I had many many cats with me for many years! I don’t have any now, since we have shifted to a flat! Loved the story of your cats… esp. loved the last line…still laughing! I have done many posts on my cats too!

    I can feel how you feel…I used to miss my first cat for a long long time. My husband used to talk to her thinking that she would hear, often! Take care.

    I came here via Shail Mohan. My blog about cats is here: http://maradhimanni.blogspot.in/search/label/Kittens Please have a look when you are bored!

    • Husband read your post just now. Though we get other pets home, some remain in our minds/hearts. Even we have forgotten which one was nero and which one was ET, when we see their pictures. The last line brought a smile in my husband’s face too…we should take it like that, he said. We will just remember the good/happy things about them in the end. Must read your other posts on cats.

  11. Pingback: Talking about Death | mommygolightly

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