Have you ever wondered, “What is it that attracts certain children to animals, birds and other little creatures that are part of nature’s rich bounty?
Have you ever wondered, “Is taking care of a pet, a waste of time when there are other important tasks at hand?”
Have you ever wondered, “Maybe, this instinct to bring in a pet into our homes and take care of them is a natural maternal instinct (irrespective of gender) that we have been endowed with to replicate in our human lives?”
When I was a child, my parents were gracious and sensitive enough to let me have a pet friend at home. It was the most natural and most beautiful thing to happen to me at that time of my life. So, I have had Dashu, Silky and Caesar (during my school years). Whether I was perfect or not in taking care of them well, that I cannot vouch for. But, I shall be ever grateful to them for making my life feel whole and complete.
My son has been wanting a pet for a very long time. Every time, we would shoo him and the topic away on the ground that there must be someone to take care of the pet whenever we went out-of-town. And that was indeed a great problem. Finally, after all the pleading, even nagging to some extent, we let him have a pet. But, we insisted that it should be a small one so that it would be easy to be taken care of apart from the fact that we could find out whether our son was ready for responsibility.
So, in came the shining goldfish on his 13th birthday. My son was happy but his resentment at not been given what he really wanted was obvious. That made me flashback into time when we were living in Palakkad and were given the good fortune of catering to the needs of a graceful and beautiful cat we christened ‘Choti Kat’. Her mother, ‘Badi Kat’ had died in our courtyard and had left ‘Choti Kat’ behind.
At first, she came mewing only for milk, later when she decided that we could be trusted she visited us whenever she had to deliver her litter in the room made for drying clothes in the monsoon season in Palakkad. Most houses have that grilled tin roofed extra room attached in Palakkad. My son was very young then and was delighted to see little balls of kitten. That was his first lesson in developing love and trust for animals I would like to think.
Choti Kat learnt to not venture inside the house but just stretch herself near my kitchen doorstep which led to a door outside where she could be given milk or be patted on her snow-white head. Time and again, my son got to experience emotions of joy as he watched the kittens grow into beautiful cats. He also experienced emotions of extreme sorrow when he came across the mangled remains of a kitten in our courtyard. He watched us did a grave and place the dead kitten in it simultaneously saying a prayer to the Almighty to make the cat’s soul rest in peace. We suffered together during those times as he would come and hug me, his little expressive eyes filling with unspoken tears and I would wonder, “So much unconditional love for a creature he had hardly known?”
Today too, when I see my little boy who has grown into a little teenager, I see that soft side of him as he plays with the neighbourhood dog, Jobi or the neighbour’s cat, Simbha. It seems like there is an invisible bond between animal and boy. Could this also be the reason behind my son’s vegetarian streak despite all attempts to convert him?
I am beginning to think now of getting him that pet dog that he always wanted. What do you say? Would he be ready for that extra responsibility?
Shail Raghuvanshi is a freelance journalist, content writer, editor, book reviewer and poet. She has 15 years of writing experience in newspaper, magazine, radio and television. She has worked as a Spoken English Teacher too. She runs a blog for writers called Write Space and blogs at her personal blog Muse N’ Motivation. A daughter, wife, mother and friend, she believes that there is no situation that can’t be made better. Faith, Friendship and Family are what makes her life complete.