Jujju Junior is not just a tiger cub. She is the kitten that resides in every cat, the youth, energy and the spirit of inquest that remains active in every feline soul. Mediocrity is not a standard that satisfies her, and knowledge incompletely gained is to her a totally unacceptable compromise. It is her life’s duty at first to know her immediate surroundings with thorough comprehensiveness, and then the immediate surroundings of the immediate surroundings with equal alacrity. No square inch may be spared in the quest for cognizance, and certainly no novel object straying into her domain may be left overlooked.
And so in this perpetual pursuit of the new, which often rubs off on us to run in pursuit of her, with Mother resting in the pool and the brother playing the fool, she takes a break from the frolic to come by to not smell the flowers, but to inquire and question the presence of the many unsightly juggernauts that have managed to create an eyesore at the edge of her playground.
Pacing her approach carefully, she raises her head to peek over the mound as she comes up the rise and making sure the turf is safe, nears the gallery with implicit confidence but obvious circumspection. She then catches sight of me and stops in her tracks mulling her next move, a question-mark pasted on her comely visage. And as she watches on with a half-tilted head, so totally engrossed in the puzzle that the question and its asker have merged into unity, in a moment of total, untarnished innocence, come through in emphatic fashion has the soul of a cat.
Milliseconds after fixing me with an interrogative glare, something more eye-catching reins in her attention and her eyes wander around shortly before fixing themselves on another target. It is unclear whether she’s found a satisfactory answer to her question but it matters little, for having concluded us to be of no national importance, she has already moved to the next item on the plate. In true cat culture, ‘Junior has already stepped forward to the next moment, wholesomely absorbed in it, wasting little time lingering on what matters little.
Instead, she shuns distractions, crouches low and focusses hard at the ‘quarry’, drilling it down with her steely eyes that seem determined to help their owner make a meal of it. The hopes in the hearts have soared, the grandstand has gone quiet and there’s tension in the air as a casual amble has turned into a spontaneous stalk. Will she deliver? What is it that she has seen that has encouraged her to fancy her chances despite her diminutive size? Will the top predator of the future pull off a precocious stunt in the present? And most important is the question hanging low and heavy: will the curiosity kill the cat’s prey or merely quell its ennui?
In a moment of infinite heart-warming cuteness, this pocket predator, upon finding the object of misplaced interest to be yet another charade of a vehicle full of great apes, cries foul and repels in disgust. And after beholding this finale, the only thing grand about which is its emphatic anticlimax, you may well cry “Wolf!” instead of “Tiger!” For this has, in full view of the non-paying public, turned out to be a sheep in dragon’s clothing, a jester decked up in gladiator attire, for all concerned. A “damp squib” you might like to dub it as.
But you should not fix the blame on me and pin my person to the wall, for I’m a faultless messenger and besides, cats are cats. It is simply the factual case that a cat never does anything to please someone other than itself and that the admiring watcher is, more often than not, pleased watching it anyway while it does whatever it fancies.
This has its roots in the simple reason that a cat is naturally endowed to impart pleasure to the senses, so long as you avoid smelling its breath. The superior feline intelligence lets it do things sans excessive thought, so it has more time to enjoy things than worry about them. By all means it has the time to delve into things, be absorbed and give everything it does its fullest – all without that bane of humanity called excessive analysis. While it is true that one cannot teach an old dog new tricks, it is also equally true that one cannot teach a cat anything that it doesn’t want to learn, and excessive forethought is certainly a permanent member of that list. It is able and inclined to learn, explore and discover along the way, but crucially, when it has an unpleasant experience, a cat has the ability to forget, forgive and move on, for it the only way it knows to live is to treat every moment on its merit, live wholly and all that sort of thing. A cat is amongst the few who play both ‘truth’ and ‘dare’ – that is to say that it always remains authentic to what it desires and is not afraid to be itself and say “no” to what it loathes.
Sometimes a cat seems to ask “Why so serious?” and sometimes it seems to make you ask it that, but amidst all, to be one with itself is a cat’s nature and to make you lose yourself in it while it’s busy being itself is the soul of a cat that shines through against all odds.