I wrote this last year for my college magazine. As you may or may not know, I’m a med student and a hostellite. It’s not the best thing I’ve written, but I’m trying to get back into the spirit of writing again.
From the earliest times, man and cat have undergone a mutually beneficial arrangement; namely, the domestication and pampering of the latter, in return of services for the former, particularly in pest control. In ancient Egypt, the goddesses Isis and Ba’at were associated with cats, known as the “mau”. Felines, seen as a symbol of grace and poise, were worshipped. Cats were popular pets, as well as considered good luck in earlier times in China, Japan, part of Europe and Russia. In West Africa, the cat is considered a delicacy, while in Ghana it is associated with evil and witch craft. This brings us down, to modern day Pakistan, specifically the role of the cat in certain government hostels.
I first came across these felonious felines in my first year here at FJMC. Picture this: mangy ginger fur, grey and matted in some patches, a scar across one side of the face; this tomcat carried an all too worldly look. Catilla the Hun, I dubbed him, after the ruler famous for his conquests and plundering. True to his name, he made it clear that he was here to stay. Knocking over dustbins and dragging out the contents, he refused to be shooed away. On one particularly nasty occasion, I attempted to save my dustbin from being knocked over and in annoyance, nudged the offender on the side with my foot. All he did in response was look up at me with hostility and before I could take any further action, he lifted his tail and with a defiant “mrrraaowww!” proceeded to urinate on our bin. In a fit of rage, I lifted the nearest chappal, and fired it at him, sending him yowling. Little did I know, though I had won the battle, the war was far from over.
Second year brought with it a change of room. Unfortunately, it also brought with it a change in the feline population. Enter a grey Tabby, better groomed than the tomcat, yet twice as sly. I called her Mom jee, due to her astonishing fertility and the copious offspring she produced. While few, if any of each of her litters survived, she seemed undeterred. With the curse of all hostel cats, she also managed to knock over the trashcans on a daily basis. In addition to this, she took to mewing at our door, and upon any attempt to shoo her away, she’d act coy and purring, playfully roll on her back. Eyes narrowed, all I could do is shut the door on her.
A change of routine came about in third year, as did a shift in offenders. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, both offspring of the aforementioned Mom jee, were only . Their favourite pastime, apart from the obligatory bin-toppling, comprised of an infuriatingly never-ending game of hide and seek. Sneaking and emerging from our rooms at all hours, their curiosity was never sated. Upon being caught, the wretches adopt a doleful expression, thus evading punishment.
And this dear readers, is ongoing. Upon returning from college, weary, only to find the contents of a number of dustbins strewn across the corridor, one can’t help but be exasperated! Though they are graceful and lithe, they are a big nuisance. On the other hand, one can’t help but soften at the sight of the small kittens, still innocent. Lounging around, anywhere and anytime they please, they know that while the students come and go, they are here to stay. Love them or loathe them, generations upon generations of these majestic yet indolent creatures have ensured that cats are a permanent fixture in hostel life.