Eyes that change their color

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Those green eyes…I never knew that the color of eyes ever changes!

When I came to that realization, it was too late; I could not stop them from closing forever. That painful night, my sisters and I cremated its body in a farm that did not belong to us. Returning home, I sighed, thinking whatever happened may be happened for the good.

The next morning, I could not stop tears falling down my eyes. What I lost was but a small pet cat who I called Chhora. He stayed with us for some three years.  Those three years were enough for me to fall in love with that little furry. Never had I thought that I would cry so incessantly at the death of a cat.

I always had this sense that Nepali culture possesses a paradoxical relationship with animals. We attribute sacredness to animals like cows on the one hand; on the other hand, we treat inhumanely to stray dogs in our cities. But it was only one particular experience that taught me how we can form strong bond with animals and how their life and companionship can mean no less than that of any other loved member, and how they can teach about life and relationships.

The time I brought him home, I was occupied in my studies. Not knowing how to leave the kitty only a few days old in the vegetable market, I had held him in my hands and carried him home. I was unsure how my family members would receive the new guest.

To my delight, the gray-eyed small member was welcomed by all in my family, except my dad. He remained quiet that day. I put some milk on a plate and placed it on the bed. The cat seemed confused to suddenly find itself inside a cozy room, away from the noise and dangers of the outside. Maybe that’s why it walked over the plate instead of licking it. Or so I thought. But being what she is – mother – my mom saw through that small innocent act of that kitten; she fetched a baby bottle and the kitty started suckling it.

It did not take a long time for the kitty to grow into an adult. My mother also found a companion in him, when my father went to work and I and my sisters left for college. She called him Soon Kumar.

Two years passed thus. But none of my family ever imagined the problems that were to come.

One day, the furry cat became the issue for the family. The landlady of my rented place knew that we loved the little pet and we wouldn’t part with him. Still, she would complain every morning that he was creating too much mess in the corridor and around the house. Dad had no other choice than to say, “Get the cat out... The room is too dirty.”

We could not let him go since we feared he would not survive if we did. Although we sisters ensured that we cleaned the corridor every day, the lady’s heart did not melt.

We sisters had developed so strong a bond with the small one that we decided to shift to a new place with him. We thought it was not right to leave the small one by itself, even though if that meant staying separately from parents.

But leaving home did not solve the problem. In fact, it soon became apparent that it was only the premonition of the worse that were to come.

My exams were approaching and soon after shifting to the new place, I settled down to prepare for them. But right around that time, my grandma, who was very close to me, suddenly passed away. Amid the emotional setback I and my family members found us at this time, and as we engaged in performing her death ritual, it became a compulsion to leave the cat alone in the room. But after a few days, I thought it would be better to leave him at my friend’s house.

After the thirteenth day death ritual of grandma, we found the cat too feeble after bringing him home from my friend’s place. It was Saturday that I took him to a veterinary. The vet said that he was suffering from jaundice.

The following day, the bright green eyes slowly began losing their color. By evening, we saw him struggling to breathe. I saw him lying on the bed where I had first brought him and wrapped in blankets to make him warm. The eyes were pale and they spoke of the pain he felt. I kept standing beside the bed, not knowing what to do.

Not long after my grandmother’s passing away, the cat died too. Whenever I think of my grandma, I happen to think of him, or think of grandma whenever I think of him. Although I knew them for much different lengths of time and shared very different moments, that their deaths appeared so close bound them so well together in my memory that I cannot explain in words. How a small animal as a cat could transform experience and memories, I did not know.

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