Sometime last year, going to school became easier. There was no resistance from Re, no stress in the mornings about getting him ready, and making it on time for the bus.
The reason was a cat named Harry.
We first spotted him sitting atop a sack of potatoes, just outside the sabziwala at the stop the school bus would pick up Re from.
Very soon, Re and Harry became friends. He woke up every morning, eager to go to school, as he had to ‘check what Harry was doing’. Or where was he sitting today. Bidding Harry goodbye before boarding the school bus became a ritual.
And just like that, a cat made my life a wee bit easier. It had happened before too, and I can’t be grateful enough.
There were other animals, Sheroo and Sher Khan, who added more drama to our morning ritual, but Harry always remained special. Harry was Re’s friend, he named him, he called out to him, Harry always responded. For once, I was just a passive observer. Re and Harry had a relationship that needed no intervention.
And sometime last week, Harry went missing. We didn’t see him one day, and asked the sabziwala. He told us Harry was unwell, and a kind girl who loved animals had taken him to the doctor. Every day after that, Re and I would get ready, and make a dash for the bus stop, earlier than usual, hoping to see Harry. He wasn’t there. On day five, I knew something was wrong; the sabziwala told me Harry was in hospital with a kidney failure. He had no number for the girl who took him, so all I could do was wait for more news and pray that all would be well in the end. Today, he finally told me that Harry didn’t make it.
I was shattered. Re still wanted to know why Harry didn’t come to play, but by now, he had made friends with Sheroo and Sher Khan. I decided not to bring him up and waited till Re boarded the bus to cry a silent cry. I should have hugged Harry. I so should have. But for now, all I can do is write a little ode:
You made potatoes look so cool.
You made the morning bus a ritual to look forward to, as Re and I would gaze at your beauty endlessly and wonder what you were thinking.
You lent gravitas to vegetables, as you picked a favorite everyday. The Sabziwala misses you too.
You gave new meaning to the “truth about cats and dogs”. Sheroo (dog) and Sher Khan (dog) have lost anchor without your disdainful gaze at them every morning.
Did I tell you how beautiful you were? But then, you already knew it, you rascal.
Go, have fun with the angels. Send some pixie dust our way too.
Next time, I will always remember to hug the thing I love when it’s in front of me.