Vignettes: How a cat invented Christmas
The Education of Kalipso
How a cat invented Christmas
Close by, a popular jingle started to rattle out of a battered stereo. The males had warmed up their lungs. Their cheeks poaching red.
All were hooting fuzzy lyrics rough-hewn to the tune of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Klaus. The most excited of them jacking into the voice of the young MJ, doing the formidable ‘full-of-oneself’ dance step, running invisible waves from his hands, on through the wrists. Off-putting since it was supposed to be a Christmas song. The pop icon flouncing the Billy Jean was turning the whole matter into a more involved spare time.
After a while, the men started out to leave, lit up their torches, and stuttering indistinct syllables set off toward the open dark clearing behind the thatched purlieu. The cat who came by to watch them knew it. They were simply relaxing their nerves after a day’s work in the farms.
The men heard the cat but didn’t budge. After reaching the ridge of the clearing where a darker sea of shadows painted by the thick forest loomed ahead, the men walked out on one another. They were holding up their torches, clasping their hats on their free hands.
The cat was, at first, reluctant to follow the men, and who to follow from among them seemed doubly pointless. He is not a wildcat, nor ever felt lonely enough to warrant a human companion. Out of curiosity he followed the oldest of the men. He used to spare him food. The man, limping as he walked past the bushes illuminated by the light of the torch, seemed too preoccupied to mind the cat tagging along.
The cat would make an image of a pair of strong glistening orbs, floating like two identical rondures glimmering silvery, as he was black all over. Only his eyes, the pupils getting firmer and rounder in the dark, made sense of his existence.
The man stopped at what looked like a shrine. Before long, two men appeared from behind the trees. A little later, the last three settled in, coming from different spots in the forest. The cat’s whiskers twanged a sound of contempt. Silly parting they would end up reunited as quickly as they walked out on each other. Said the cat.
After each torch was quietly extinguished, one by one the men entered the hut, knelt around in the shrine where an infant was sleeping soundlessly; around him was a lambent light softly glowing. The cat saw a bright star above the dingy shed. It seemed too low to be a real star. He was getting confused at these slowly building layers of consciousness. He was a cat but he felt something was eating away into the mystery of the forest.
He barely had time to notice how the trees started to draw back around, closing off into a slowly forming large disk rim, the patch of sky meticulously opening out. By and by he realized they were all moving away into the center of the forest. The thick woodland was receding slowly all around. The land under their feet was bulging into a grade high enough to top the uniform height of the trees that were settling guardedly around a circular rim until the trees were at a safe distance down and about.
The sky was soothingly vast, clear and enthralling, from where he was making this out on his haunches. It was too great for his small brain he couldn’t take it all in. Something like a burst of electric charge was disquieting his wits. Something inside was ready to rise and simmer in the cold air.
He felt the bones of his forelegs mutely snapping away, yielding to gravity. He fancied his body was about to trip over. When it seemed he was really falling he couldn’t pull his body around to prepare to land on all fours.
A strong ray of light from the bright star beamed down on the shrine…
Towards New Year
It seemed to him the first loud racket came from afar it didn’t worry him much. His distance from his safe haven was confirmed to his eyes. The mouth of the hollow was still visible from his position beside a rectangular signpost hoisted on top of a long metal structure beside the foot of the hillock. He resumed his walk above a hazy sky approaching dusk where an unusually single lump of clouds would come by after a long interval from the first that had dropped in.
He found himself in a vacant lot, fenced off from its forlorn edges to the right side by the high metal poles melded in regular spaces to pose as visual warning to trespassers and passersby. All around the place a conspicuous symptom of rush has been turning a quiet life into a busy colony of wheels. Since the planned development of the town was announced and started to make progress, everything seems to take an odd turn. The dogs started to fall out with them. The cats would have gotten by with leftovers scrapped on the side of the creek dotted with annoying wings at day, and predacious whirring at night. As the creek was made to run in dizzying channels of waste, people started to get busy, and with their bustle came a hefty list of things to dump, including their once valued memories.
When Kalipso and Kaisha decided to settle for a common hunting and breeding interest, it was brought forth by the fact that they had no choice. People were showing lesser and lesser interest. The dogs were no longer in good part when they sniffed around their troughs jutting with mix of postprandial relics in the night. Dogs started to bark at them, the more vicious type would try to snap them up for territorial reasons.
There upon the mound in the vacant lot, he was looking up at the night sky and felt a pang for the memory of the past…
Towards a new life
He ran back to the direction of the hill, past the muddy rutted road and the bare land athwart. The whiff of grass embracing the foot of the hill bid of an effortless climb. Still forging ahead, he ran as fast as he could, as if he wanted to expel all memories with the speed he was achieving, leaping over tiny puddles scooped out by the rains from the previous days, past the leaves on the bushes that smelled to him of dried bones of carcass cleaned up by nature and time combined, over the lower branches of blackberry bushes, dodging the thick gooey trunks of rubber trees.
His forepaws would hollow sharp in the mud. After the claws on his back toes would have scraped out lumps of damp soil caught by wet leaves and weeds, he would launch quickly to another familiar landing. All these in rapid pedaling progress.
He finally reached the grassy terrain on the foot of the hill. The hill was no longer visible in the dark. But the mounted signpost, which he could recognize by rote, reassured him that he was almost there.
The smell of grass was fleshed out by the mocking scent of brackish rocks, mixing in the air that blew as if one were in the open sea, cold and steady.
All these wonders, he thought, were the flimsy shadows of a past obscured in that signpost of forgetfulness, mounted, eluding descent.
And there’s the rub—the cat gazing up at the monument of his tiny education.