Monday, November 10, 2014

Pinned Here

My patient reader knows of my room mates, the cats, who have, of long, provided an anchor, a steadying presence, even a definition of what constitutes the idea of home for me. I have considered myself extremely fortunate in having the felines around me. Our relationship, I would insist, goes beyond normal language, our lexicon is structured around analyzing moods rather than actual combination of syllables or sounds. We do communicate, sometimes more effectively than the way I communicate with my students, even.

With my room mates, I do not worry about how my words may be mis-heard, unheard, unremembered, sometimes even misunderstood, like I have to when I speak to my classes. Of course, in my household, like with every household, we are careful not to tread on toes (and paws), not to hurt feelings, to follow the rules of courtesy required for the wheels of routine to rumble on without too many pot holes and other disasters. These rules of adjustment are the same my child and I had figured out when we used to regularly live together, the unspoken acknowledgements, conceding, bowing and stepping, all part of the same dance.

I have felt that the cats and I, the WE who inhabit this space right now, have danced and stepped together enough to merit being considered a household. A lot of my friends point out that this "relationship" is one sided: I seem to depend more on the cats than they on me. The cats are quite capable of feeding themselves (and even me, if only I would agree to adjust my diet to include mice, roaches, snakes, and lizards). They do not much care if it is a bush that keeps them warm and dry from rain or if they are curled up on cat beds around my house. They seem to be quite capable of protecting themselves, even to the extent of keeping their own pet possum in my little backyard.

All this is true. In fact, I have often wondered if the cats notice if I am in the house (unless I am feeding them). It seems that they ignore me, mostly, and unlike dogs, they do not particularly respond to my need for hugs. A few of them do tolerate being held for a breath, and then leave on their terribly important errands and routines, without which, they seem sure, the sun would not rise or set.
I am sure that mine is just one of the many houses they reside in at different parts of their routines. It is not home for them the way it is for me, the way they are for me.

However, then there are days given to the rains, when the horizon well-nigh disappears, when even a breath seems wet; a day very much like yesterday, when I could not hear the television for all the booming and thundering and crashing waterfalls everywhere. All the cats found their way into the big room where I spend most of my waking hours. They chose spots on the floor, in a box, on cat beds, in sofa corners, even a couple of spots on cat furniture. By the time evening fell, I realized that I had fed them all faster than ever, since they were all in the same place and I didn't have to wait for stragglers to stop by. I was glad of that.

As the evening progressed, I also realized that I was, for lack of a better epithet, pinned to my preferred place in the big room. Like points on some compass, the cats had arranged themselves to keep an eye on each other and on me, even as they napped. If I got up to get a book or a drink, all feline heads shot up in alarm, to watch closely what transpired once I had abandoned my assigned space. If I failed to return to my assigned spot in the duration that followed feline reasoning, the youngest kitten would skitter around the house to escort back the truant. The oldest cat watched the kitten and the alpha cat watched the oldest cat. The other kitten remained on alert, in case reinforcements were necessary. The remaining two cats laid their heads down to maintain their napping mien.

The ease with which I fit into this dance argues that I am used to this routine from other rainy days. The way in which we form families, anchors, thin threads that bind us to this plane of existence, are as amazing as they are varied. The idea of mortality looms as my kidney disease advances and as I become more aware of the terrible battles for survival I see being waged around me.

I may not own much in way of wealth or wisdom, but here, in this navel of the world, I have validity. Here, I am pinned in my own place, with designated steps for a familiar dance, with responsibility to participate in a routine.

If unpinned, I would be missed. Here.


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful narrative--thanks so much for sharing it!