My mind worked through the list of errands I had to accomplish that evening before the party the next day. Although sharing a birthday with my older brother had never seemed like a task, the numerous guests that visited sure were. My gaze fell upon an old cottage that was famous as a home to a large number of cats. Dusk was falling and the skies were a beauteous grey streaked with orange. A high pitched shriek pierced through. The blood curdling sound did nothing to baffle me as it was one I was familiar with. In a matter of seconds, a calico chased by a tuxedo came into the view. The calico looked old and worn. Clearly tired from running, the cat collapsed in the middle of the small lane. At that moment I noticed a car speeding towards us and my mind screamed to pull him out of the way. I felt my body rush forward and grab him to safety. A breath I didn't realise was being held was let out in relief as he got up and went to lay under a stalled rickshaw. I did not want to leave him alone knowing that his health was not in its best condition but there were things to be done. Crossing my fingers, I left to finish my tasks.
On returning, much to my delight he was yet where I had left him. Walking towards me, he pressed his face against my leg as a way of thanks. As I walked a few steps, he began to follow me home. I barely had a moment to collate my thoughts while watching him trail after me into the compound of my bungalow. Mum saw him and asked “Who's the wise old chap walking behind you?” After narrating the series of events, her eyes softened. Mum got him a bowl of food which he could barely consume given the weakness. This ancient relic was well over 13 years of age. His face held scars of past battles valiantly won. A visit to the doctor shed more light upon his age, health issues and care to be taken as he was old.
The next few days consisted of Bob making himself at home in a spot in our veranda. His health gradually picked up. One morning I was stunned to see him lounging on the sofa, unaware and quite unconcerned. He had made himself at home and I knew that was it. He was here to stay. I trailed my fingers along a huge scar that had healed wrong below his left ear.
He set into a routine that evolved around sleeping, eating and observing all that went about around him. Fights were clearly not his best attribute given his age but he chose to do so anyways. There were moments when he failed to come home for a few days and i would look for him. The children had fondly named him “Scar face” and they were my best sources on information during those hunts.
The months went by and it was soon a year on the 7th of August 2020 since Bob had come home. Over the years I had learnt that every creature that had been a part of my life was a lesson, an experience and a reason. It was one morning when I found Bob breathing heavily. I rushed him to the vet to learn the heartbreaking truth that his lungs were working at less than 40 percent along with a bad infection that had been detected via a blood test. I hugged him close, my own heart breaking. But he was a fighter and so was I. Recalling his last days as he seemed to not want to let go. On the last day, he could barely walk. Hugging him close I kept telling him it was alright, I’d be alright and that he could go. That he did not have to keep pushing himself to live. Night fell and his breath got heavier, my gut clenched as I lay in bed. Slipping out of my bedroom, I went and sat beside him. My heart grew heavy as I knew he was going but was yet fighting to keep alive. Gently scratching him behind his ears I felt a soft purr and I sobbed. Amongst many of the things I choose to remember and keep in my heart, this one will always be it. It was close to 1am in the morning when he mustered up his strength, struggled towards me, placed his head against my leg, looked me in the eye and let out his last breath of air. I placed my left palm against my heart and my right against his as I felt the heart beat slow down and then it stopped. Bob was the newest yet the oldest cat in my house. Given a choice I know I would never have adopted a cat that old. Bob taught me what it was like to live life happy and free. To be yourself, embrace your scars and yet look regal. Despite the age and looks, his charming attitude got him a few girlfriends (no jokes!)
I guess that’s what they say, “Old is Gold”