Splicing the Extremes

A one-time father would have felt the pangs of nostalgia in the abyss upon the sight. The hearts of police constables would have turned wistful, and night-watchmen would have pitched in relating to the situation, for we paced up and down a jeep path in Badhaini Patpar as though our lives, or someone else’s, held direct reliance on it. The subject of our pursuit was Jujuhra’s adolescent daughter, Chhoti, who had chosen this area as her base and was tipped to be about the range each evening.

We had done about five and a half round trips of this stretch in the reciprocal fashion depicted above and were going strong on the sixth, when on the left side of the track it popped up. Not the tigress but a specimen hundredth of her size. Having no clue of its identity beyond that it looked like a cat, and our love for this family of beings well documented, we ordered the vehicle to a screeching halt with such ferocious urgency that the topless Gypsy showed stellar stopping-power and outdid herself in cutting her pace to a grind in a jiffy and a half or less. This sudden outage of impetus caused our bodies to fall on each other’s laps in a dangerously wayward fashion as hands reached out furtively to grasp the optics. 

Tiny, tawny and eminently adorable

It was tiny and it was tawny, and beyond this we had not a clue in Plymouth just what the dash the served dish was. We would always have time later to figure that out, we thought; better shoot it first when it’s still there. But there had been such an almighty overhaul in the back of the carriage that just at the point when I ‘settled’ with my body in a shape and position contorted in such outlandish angles as previously not conceived possible for a human, I aimed at this comely little thing fully expecting to see the flight of its minuscule rump as a dim blur. Instead, it beat a house-cat for nonchalance by a thin margin and stayed firmly put warming its seat – a fallen trunk of a tree – gazing at us absently without once raising a brow, its bushy tail curled up like a fashionable accessory neatly beside it. 

Its paws were dainty, eyes big and yellow, and whiskers half as long as her body, which itself couldn’t have exceeded eight inches. As the standard option it appeared determined not to move, and even when it did shake the occasional part, the movement was so imperceptible that under a peg or two, I would have been incontrovertibly convinced that it was a remarkably realistic soft-toy left behind by a careless kid. And when once or twice it almost fell asleep sitting right where it was, I deduced that we had done some good deeds in our previous lives and had an agreeable appearance and odour.

Such overwhelming cooperation was emboldening and the infamous human vice of rapacity kicked in after the initial lag. Having secured in the bag a cut of initial shots, we reversed the vehicle to achieve a better angle, and incredibly, the noble animal continued its obliging streak. Briefly thereafter, before the longest arm of the clock could come a full circle, the planet repositioned itself to have the sun introduce the lighting effects, and the cameras clicked away like a thoroughbred, so ordered by the jockey, gallops at the rate of knots.

Seven minutes later, some switch in our model’s brain went off suddenly, causing its owner to jump off the log with nimble swiftness and rocket away from sight behind the bushes, a lone visible testicle beneath its tail betraying its gender affiliations, leaving us to reflect on the stunning fortune we enjoyed for a goodly time.

My respiratory system seemed to have taken a sabbatical in the meanwhile, for I felt myself drawing in a draught after a hiatus lasting several minutes. Some diagnosis was now available on why my brain had ceased functioning because oxygen is known to be a necessary ingredient for it to work. The cardinal supplement now having been restored to the vital insides, I turned to my friend as he looked at me excitedly and I framed his gaze with a “What the jolly-golly was that?” sort of look. Just then I read his lips and he read my eyes and “Rusty-spotted cat? Ye gods, rusty spotted cat!” I cried. I’m not sure whether I said “Oh, dear me!” or “Oh, Holy Beatrice!” but to say I was astonished is to neatly abridge the story and encapsulate it in a compact shell.

In the pursuit of our heart’s calling we had stumbled upon that which we had been short of envisaging even in the imagination of utmost vividness, and in the quest for the largest of the cats we had found the smallest.  We had spliced the extremes.

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