A poem about my cat and my neighbour

A woman, neighbour’s daughter
I had not seen before
turned up
at my door yesterday
“Is it your cat running up
and down the stairs?”

I asked her what colour
the cat was
since I have two.

This dismayed her

“I don’t know that but please keep it inside.
I think two-three of us have complained
already. We are all scared of her.
Meri to cheekh nikal gayi!”

I asked her if she had ever been attacked
by my cat.

“No, but it is human to be scared
of cats…”
I said it was her nature and not everyone’s.
i pointed out that I, for example, was not scared of cats.

She lost her patience at this.

“Why
can’t you keep her inside?”

I asked her why she could not
let go of her prejudice. “I can’t keep her inside,”
I admitted, exasperated.

“Why?”, she turned combative at which point
I told her to talk to my landlord
and found myself slamming the door.

(How do I explain to her why a cat
wants to run over the stairs up and down?

Or goes out in the cold/ heat
to sit for ages in some forlorn corner
of an abandoned room of some apartment?

I also remember
someone who once asked me
derisively
what it was, if anything at all,
that one could learn from a cat?
I wanted to say everything but
I did not think she would get it).

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Abhimanyu Kumar Written by:

Abhimanyu Kumar is an independent journalist based in Delhi.

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