I talked to Ashutosh on the phone the evening before I came to see the room.
“Well, the thing is that I already have two people who are interested in the room, but they don’t like cats. Do you have any problem with cats?” he asked. I assured him I liked cats, that I’d come in the morning to see the place.
I arrived at 9AM the next day at the century-old colonial bungalow near Rizvi college. Ashutosh had already phoned before I left the house:
“How long will you take to reach? Shall I put the tea on?”
He greeted me with a namaskaar as I slipped my shoes off, stepping over the threshold inside.
“The thing is,” Ashutosh said, “I have actually just gotten four new roomates. They’ve just come yesterday.”
Confused, I didn’t say anything, but followed him into the front room.
“You can meet them if you’d like.” He smiled, and pulled open a cupboard door.
Inside were four beautiful new kittens, nestled peacefully in a row against their mother’s body. She was beautiful, much more apparently serene than a human is when they have given birth only 12 hours earlier. The group of them were collapsed together on top of a grey towel.
The little ones’ stomachs were wet and sticky from being born. Mummy had bitten off the cords. Their eyes were closed.
“She had been whining so much when she was about to give birth… I think she was insisting that I leave,” Ashutosh laughed softly. “She didn’t like the male energy. I invited my neighbour to act as her midwife.”
Only hours old, the baby cats already wore beautiful patterns in their fur. They meowed as mice would speak, in high voices, and struggled around blindly.
The details of them were already beginning to be clear: their whiskers were brown with white tips, noses soft and damp, their tails ended in points. They were precious and helpless and already loved.