Umesh is a freelance writer contributing his creative writings on varied subjects in various sites and portals in the internet.
Some people have pets in their families from the last generation itself and they observe and interact with them since their childhood. It is a normal thing to have pets and play and love them for these people. At the same time many do not have pets and had not experienced them during their childhood and adopt them later in their lives. For such people this would be their first experience and they would definitely be excited to share it with others.
Everyone must have a story and experience with one's first pet and that is something of a joy that can not be described in words. The involvement in the care and raising of a pet especially a puppy and the immense happiness achieved in that process is really of super value. Pets are, as everyone might be aware, great stress busters. They are live medicines for anxiety and depression and are great companions. Some trained pets even help the elderly and physically disabled persons. Highly trained pets can demonstrate surprising talents in their responses. This article is all about my first pet and in fact its detailed story.
I completed my Post Graduation in the year 1972 and after one year I got a teaching job in a college. After 3 years of teaching Physics in that college in Northern part of India, I got a good job in the national petroleum company and was asked to join its offices in a town known as Nazira in the state of Assam in Eastern part of India. This narration pertains to the year 1976 (about 46 years ago) and I was unmarried at that time and on that company appointment, with my little belongings, I moved to that town Nazira and settled in a company provided small house. After 2 years, in 1978, I got married and took my wife to Nazira town. That part of our country, being a place of greenery, is very picturesque place and Nazira was no exception. Our housing complex was situated on the banks of a small river and there were so many trees and plants around that provided us a great shelter during the scorching summer. There were few tea gardens here and there in that area. That time Nazira was a small town and had a few shops for provision and other things. So we had to go to the nearest city that is Shivasagar, which was a relatively big town, for shopping of specific items that were not available in Nazira. In Shivasagar, the main attraction was a lake and a famous Lord Shiva temple on one side of it. The name Shivasagar is related to Lord Shiva only where Shiv means Lord Shiva and Sagar means lake.
My company had offices at both the places - Nazira as well as Shivasagar from where the oil exploration and production activities were managed and controlled in that region.
My in-laws had always kept pets
My wife was from a family where pets were always kept and she did have memories of dogs, cats and even one cow which of course they kept for fresh milk for the family. In this remote place far from our home, she felt a bit lonely and was craving for pets. As she found that I was not at all interested in pets, she did not insist much for it though she always yearned for them. She often talked about the pets back home. Some stray animals were there that used to wander in the housing complex we lived in and she used to give them biscuits and cookies from time to time.
A trip to Sivasagar
One of our relatives working in the same oil company in a senior position was living in Shivasagar. One day, he invited us for lunch in their house. It was a Sunday and we went there in the morning after taking our breakfast. Shivasagar was hardly 18 km from Nazira and it took us about a good half an hour to reach there as the road was narrow at that time. As we had time in hand we went to the Shivasagar lake first and had a short visit to Lord Shiva temple where many people were present that day being a holiday. The lake had a road around its periphery where people used to walk in the morning or evening time. We strolled there for a while and then proceeded to our relative's house.
By the time we reached our relative's house, it was 11 AM and the children rushed to us and as per the tradition in our relations and families touched our feet and bowed to us. We blessed them and they soon disappeared in other room. Being holiday they were playing and having fun in the house. Suddenly two kittens and one cat appeared out of their room and started to move around the drawing room. My wife was thrilled to see two little cuties and tried to call them. It seemed to me as if she already knew them and one of them came near to her and started snuggling around her legs. She took her in her lap and started caressing. The mother cat who, on seeing the new people, initially looked a bit cautious, then seemed to relax seeing the kitten in safe hands and started towards the other side of drawing room aimlessly.
That was a very happy day for my wife and we enjoyed the company of kittens and afterwards had lunch and then had afternoon tea and around 5 PM we told our host that we would be leaving. The house lady was talking to my wife and came to know her interest in pets like cats or dogs and was happy talking with a like minded person. Just when we stood up to leave the house, the lady told my wife that she could take one of the kittens with her if she was sure that she could take good care of it. My wife was overjoyed on this generous offer but looked towards me as if asking my permission to accept it as she knew I was not much interested in them. I just gestured to her to take it and she was really very happy getting that signal and the house lady went inside and in a thick nylon bag kept the kitten and just handed it to my wife. We sat in the cab that we had hired for the day and asked the driver to take us back to Nazira.
My wife thought to caress the kitten so that it does not get frightened but by that time the kitten was in a bad shape and was almost in a shock as it could not understand why it was locked in a bag and where it was being taken by us. As soon as my wife tried to insert her hand inside the bag to caress it, the kitten started to put it's soft nails on her hand as if stopping her to come near to it. Kitten was terribly frightened and my wife was not able to console the cutie.
When we reached our house, my wife with her whatever experiences kept the kitten inside a tunnel made by folding a blanket and the kitten went inside it and tried to hide itself there. In the night we called it and tried to feed but as soon as we went near, it made itself move to inner part of the tunnel. So we gave up and went to bed leaving him there itself.
Kitten's first day in our house
Next day morning also it did not come out and remained in its place fearing us if it comes in open. Finally my wife made some egg scramble and offered it but it did not come out. She kept the egg in a plate on the floor and then was busy in the household jobs. As she told me in the evening the kitten came out and then as the back side door of the house was open it went out like a bullet and then moved to the neighbour's house and settled near the base of a small tree. She told me that if you go near it then it might move further to another backyard connected to the present one. I thought let me try this to catch him though I was totally a novice in that field. She told me that I have to hold him lightly in my hands and caress on his forehead and make some soft loving sounds to console it. She demonstrated some samples to me by making sound and I got some idea as what I had to do. The fencing between the two houses in the backyard was of barbed wire of 3 feet height and I slowly managed to cross it and moved towards the kitten. It was frightened to see me coming and was thinking to move but meanwhile I got hold of him and tried my best to console it but the kitten was not happy and was feeling uncomfortable. Anyway, I caressed him and made some funny sounds but nothing made him calm down. My wife was standing at the fencing and took it in her hands and about an hour of consoling and caressing, it started to drink milk that she supplied to it in a small bowl. After feeding it went inside the room and sat on the floor under the cot. My wife was happy to see that the kitten looked in slightly better shape but looked sad probably searching it's brother and mother. My wife told that it can again go out and try to escape aimlessly in any direction so we have to close the back door for some time. Meanwhile my wife prepared a tray filled with loose soil and kept it near the back door in case the kitten had some urge to get itself relieved.
This all happened in 1978 (about 44 years back and neither I had a camera nor I was having a fancy for photography). Sadly, I do not have any photograph of the kitten to share with the readers and only thing I could search from my old photo collection was a back and white photo of the house where we lived at that time with the kitten.
House at Nazira
The second day
Next day morning, we saw the kitten sitting on a foot mat and seemed to be quite composed. My wife took some milk in the small bowl and made a sound with the bowl by striking it with floor. The kitten ran towards it and started drinking. My wife told me that it has accepted us now. For me it was strange and amusing, probably I was learning about the pets. In the evening when I came from office, I saw it playing with my wife. I was a bit surprised. The kitten took hardly 1-2 days in adjusting to new place. It was remarkable as per my understanding. Animals were better in accommodating in new situations as compared to men - I thought.
"Have you given it a name", I asked my wife.
"He is already having a name. He is Taby", She smiled back.
Taby grew up
So, Taby became a part of our family and we did not know when we started to treat him just like another member in the family whom we had to take care of.
For me, it was a new experience and when I observed its behaviour closely, I was surprised and also amused. If you call his name he used to come near us. My wife did not take eggs but prepared it for me and whenever she prepared some omelette, Taby came to me knowing that I am the fellow who consumes it and he will get his share if he remains in my vicinity.
My wife used to visit the neighbours occasionally and Taby also followed her and if not together, later sneaked in the house and just sat below the chair where my wife was sitting. Neighbours were surprised by its behaviour and even gave it sometimes some cookies also.
Taby was a male cat and now he was growing and his absence from the house was becoming longer and longer. One day it did not come back for quite some time and I was just searching for it just opposite my house where there was a big cement wall fencing and I had often seen him going across it through a place which was open on upper half of the wall with a small iron ladder to cross it. It was late evening time and I just crossed the wall and searched for it. There were thick bushes at both the sides of lane going to the company guest house located nearby. I just took a few steps and I heard a slight crying sound which appeared to be of some cat only. I made some whistling sounds and called Taby ... Taby ... but nothing happened. A few seconds later, I again heard that crying sound. It could be Taby. Let me find out. I rushed back to house and brought a torch with me. I directed the light inside the bushes and saw that Taby was having some problem and was making small sounds. I tried to call him and persuaded him to come out but he was sitting deep inside crying in that fashion. I went back and told my wife about it. She came and called Taby in a soft tone and soon Taby moved out of bushes and came near. My wife could find out that it was having some problem as it was continuously itching itself.
"He has got some small thorn tips like things in his skin, probably he got entangled in some thick thorny bush", my wife exclaimed.
"What to do now", I was getting worried.
"No problem, we have to brush his skin and put some anti-rashes body powder. It would be alright."
We took it to the house and after cleaning the skin and wiping it , he seemed to be relieved and soon went to sleep.
Adventures of Taby
Taby had many adventures to his credit. I remember only one or two of them. Once he was away from the house and did not return in the night. That was nothing new as earlier also many times he did not turn up in night. In the morning I heard him calling outside giving us a signal to open the main door. When I opened the door I saw one kitten dead lying on the front of the main door. Seeing me Taby lifted him with his mouth and started to walk and wanted to enter the house. I felt angry. How Taby can kill a kitten and now bringing the body here. My wife came out and saw the dead kitten and told me that Taby is becoming aggressive and should be given a lesson so that he does not repeat it. She took Taby from the neck and slapped him 3-4 times and every time made him to smell the body by taking Taby's nose near the dead kitten. I did not know such methods and doubted whether it would work but after that Taby never brought such a thing to house. We disposed the body of the dead kitten and then allowed Taby to enter inside. I am not sure but I felt from Taby's gestures as if he felt sorry on that incident.
There are many such memories of Taby's adventure. One day I saw him on the roof top of the house trying to catch a bird. He did not succeed.
Taby fell ill and the sad end
My wife told me that Taby was not eating properly for last few days and was not feeling well and occasionally vomited also. I got some cat medicines from a pharmacy where one pharmacist gave me some cat medicines to deal with in such situations. But the condition of Taby deteriorated fast and though we gave the medicine to him its condition deteriorated further and in the night that day it took its last breath and left us. My wife was completely shattered and first time in my life I felt the pain of departing with a pet. It was unbearable. Next morning we dug in our kitchen garden in the backyard and placed his body to rest in peace.
We remained disturbed for quite some time as we were missing him from our routine life day and night. Later, in connection with my job we moved on transfer to different places in the country and had pets there but the memories of my first pet are still fresh in my mind.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Umesh Chandra Bhatt