Monday, December 8, 2008

Rosemary For December

December is my month for remembrances....
It is the month I lost two beloved pets and an aunt who touched my soul in a very special way...
I do not remember the exact dates I lost them. Not that it matters much. The pain of loss was felt long after the day had ended, and still makes my heart throb gently every winter.
It might surprise some that I speak of a dog, cat and a beloved aunt in the same breath. Strange as it may sound, I probably have done so because all three of them had a lot in common....They were fiercely independent, adorably eccentric, loving to a fault and unafraid to follow their hearts.

Jack, the demented, love-hungry Alsatian who was my closest companion through my college years, came to us as a very large 2 yr old courtesy our friend Venu. At first sight, he put the fear of God into us as he staggered about drunkenly in his room, snarling and glaring most malevolently at his cowering owners. We almost turned our backs on him and scuttled for our lives, not daring to bring home a dog which could so very easily go for our jugular if his milk wasn't served at the right temperature.
And we were so wrong. For, beneath the thick fur of the mean killer machine resided the heart of an overgrown puppy.And a puppy he remained to the end of his days..accepting our love as his just due and demanding it peevishly when it was not forthcoming.
When Jack got mad, it was my clothes which bore the brunt of his rage. If not my clothes, then my pillows or my books or my glasses...Anything that remotely smelt of me was fair game. He delighted in brazenly running away from home, just for the sheer pleasure of watching the whole family huff and puff after him in hot pursuit,all over the neighbourhood pleading with him to stop. It wasn't that he was destructive or thirsting for freedom. Jack just loved to be the center of attention and had no compunctions about how he got there.
But we did have a lot of fun.With our innumerable games of catch which had us running around the long mahogany dinner table until we flopped dizzily down into a giggling, yelping heap..Exam nights spent under the starry skies with Jack being schooled by me in the laws of demand, supply and diminishing marginal returns or the Indian Mutiny of 1857....
When I left Trivandrum, it was Jack I missed the most and often went back to see. A few months before he died, I was home re-cooperating from a virulent attack of jaundice. Jack was my friend, playmate and my nursemaid - all rolled into one and we spent a wonderful 2 months together before he left us.
For sometime, the void Jack left in our hearts seemed to engulf our lives. No more pets, my broken hearted mother and I vowed to each other. And while she has not had another pet, fate had other plans for me.
Little Kat stormed into my life, through my bedroom window, one cold dark night. She didn't ask if she could stay and it didn't occur to me to ask her to leave. For you see, we belonged...right from the very first miaow.
Her world comprised of the two of us and none other, be it feline or mortal....No boy friends, no mothers, no friends...In short, no one. If I had visitors, Kat was quick to establish pecking order, which had her and me lording over everyone else. On one occasion, no sooner had I finished a breakfast of eggs on toast, Kat decided to flex her muscle by sampling the rest of the eggs which incidentally, my mother had reserved for herself. My mother was not amused in the least. At another time, she marched off for a war of words with my landlord who dared ask us for increased rent while renewing our lease. Needless to say, my landlord was, since then, careful to not ask for money in Kat's hearing. The cat seemed to know no fear at all. Why, even the dogs next door did not dare approach me for a ear scratch in the presence of my little feline.
Not only was kitty possessive of my affections but she was extremely solicitous as well. If I was ill in bed or were to sleep in on a Sunday, I could be very sure of a worried Kat materialising on our bed with a freshly slaughtered and disemboweled rat for my sustenance.
And she was the most independent cat I have ever known. As much as she loved me, she needed her space and would vanish for hours together to bask herself in some sunny spot. She vanished one November morning for a very long spell. To this day, I haven't the faintest idea as to where she went or even if she was cat-napped, ludicrous as the idea may seem. She came back home a good 30 days later...all skin and bones...with bruised & broken foot pads...And the look of death in her eyes. I guess she came home only to say good bye.

In stark contrast to the dramatic entries Jack and Kat made into my life, my aunt emerged from the shadows only when I stood on the threshold of adulthood.
My aunt Rugmini was one of the gutsiest people I have come across...And so unafraid to meet life head-on. As single mother and an immensely successful media executive, I assume life could not have always been easy for her. And I will never know.
I will never know if she ever cried when the going got tough or worried about survival or ever knew fear in any form. I think of her as a free spirit...A person who followed her heart and accepted the consequences without a murmur. For me, as was the case with most of the youngsters in the family, 'ammayi' was a delightful lady with a wicked sense of humour and ever ready to dispense advice on fashion, career and life in general. But above all, she never judged. I do not know a single cousin of mine whose life has not been touched one way or the other by this wonderful lady. If I were to think of a single woman who has had a profound influence on my professional life, it would have to be her.

We lost her last December....To Cancer. An instance of a lump in the breast ignored for too long. After 4 years of protracted battle with the killer disease, she was ready to leave us all - having tended to all her worldly affairs...having said her good byes...And having made peace with the true love of her life.
Jack, Kat and my Aunt must be the only three people, in my life so far, with whom I have no unfinished business...The only three associations in my life with which I am at peace. And I will carry them in my heart, right to my grave.
Maybe, this is why I will always associate Rosemary with December...After all, Rosemary's for Remembrance.

5 comments:

Ganga Dhanesh said...

beautiful...

Roopa said...

Touching my dear...real touching.

Miaow!!! said...

Thank you Ganga, Roopa...
Writing this was a bitter sweet experience....Far too many memories to relive...

Jayadev said...

"Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.." - Simon & Garfunkel
"Rugmini, Jack, Rosemary and Kat...." - Alpha Mogggie
Excellent stuff, Rekha. I enjoyed reading the entries in your blog. They inspire me to start one.. Keep 'em comin!

Miaow!!! said...

Jaydev, thank you very much!!!
:) :)