Syeda Zainab Zaidi,
Student of graphic designing, Mumtaz area, Muscat (OMAN)
Someone is staring at me from the corner of the room, slowly swishing his tail as though he was preparing to attack me! In reality, my big fur ball was just staring at me and wanted to ‘attack’ me with oodles of love. I was engaged on the computer doing some design work and then suddenly I get this odd feeling that someone was staring at me. I look to my right and sure enough, my beloved ‘cattypie’, Simba, was staring at me from a corner of the room.
Centre of his universe
My furry boy was staring at me because of his love for me; I am the centre of his universe and of course, he was also wondering when he was going to get his next meal.
Admix of sadness and joy
Ever since COVID hit us, Simba and I were also hit with a mix of sadness and joy. Sadness, when I listen to the news and hear of the terrible outcome of the COVID outbreak around the world, and lots of joy of having all the family members at home. And this last is something that I share with Simba. He has been purring with a sense of pure love and contentment in the fact that all of us are at home, especially during the first three months after COVID made its scary presence felt, followed by lockdowns, masks, gloves and social distancing and the like. But of late, he looks at us a trifle quizzically when some of us, like my father, leave the home like before, and come back late.
Best thing to happen
Perhaps, being a pet cat is the best thing to happen during a crisis such as this pandemic. For, Simba had everyone at home. He is not particularly happy when we all leave home and he is left alone. Of course, sometimes he goes off himself to some meditative corner, shuts his eyes and goes off into a deep Zen-like slumber. But other times, he is quietly omnipresent. Everywhere you turn, he is there, either staring at you, or posing in a reflective manner that you stop and stare back at him.
He must sense the collective sigh
While I say in my own little knowledge of his world and his thoughts and his silent ruminations that he is hardly affected by what is happening outside our door and in the world, I could be slightly off the mark because, there are times I see him staring out of the window too, as though he was concerned with the current global pandemic situation and in his own way, silently reflecting on it. This happens when we take him out too. Sometimes my father takes him out to the front porch area and there he would seem very content, very happy and then suddenly, he would turn, look in the direction of the street and stare for some time. I am sure that he is seeing things, which we don’t see. He must be sensing it too – the deep collective sigh of those directly and badly affected by the pandemic. He can see better than us in the dark and perhaps, he can see the deep darkness that exist in the world too today.
Simba can sense our moods
Many say that cats are not like dogs and they are not that sensitive or that they are more selfish and don’t care. I beg to differ. At least in Simba’s case. I can actually see that he can easily sense our moods. Especially during the first three months when the COVID attack put us inside and although we all felt cosy and cared for, anytime we heard the news about the scourge damaging lives of people, we were quite saddened and it reflected in our moods and our actions and this was strongly felt by Simba who cuddled up with us as though he was in his own feline way trying to protect us and making us feel better.
As the COVID storm raged outside and we all slowly learnt how to live day after day with this never-ending pandemic, our moods also became slightly better and it reflected on our faces and our actions showed our resilience and our God-given ability to cope with whatever the world has thrown at us.
Trip to the supermarket
I know it is easy to say this now, but at that time, although the first two weeks were okay, slowly, when we realised that this was something that was going to take a pretty long time to subside, and stepping outside seemed to be a real danger, especially for those of a certain age group and those with ailments, we knew things were not good. In fact, my father did not allow me to step out for the whole of three months and although I felt safe at home, the feeling at times that you are trapped within four walls could bring in momentary bouts of suffocation. But three months later, my father suddenly said, arm yourself with masks, gloves and sanitisers and keep in your mind about social distancing, and he took us to the supermarket.
How little things mattered
As far as I was concerned, the supermarket looked a bit ethereal but most welcoming and it was a delight to be out. It was then that I realised how the little things in life mattered and how the bare necessities of life was often taken so much for granted.
Thanks to God for this wonderful gift
I prayed to the Almighty with all that I could that night; to not only keep all of us safe and sound but also thanked God for this wondrous gift called life. After I prayed, I opened my eyes to see ‘Mr Purrfect’ staring at me like he had read my mind, rather my prayers. There seemed to be a slight sweet smile on his furry face. And he was giving me, what they say in cat language, ‘eye kisses’ – this is half-closed eyelids, with some soft slow blinks.
Everything will be well with the world
After sometime, he came and snuggled next to me and despite all that was happening in the world and all that was happening within me, I felt a certain calmness, a certain bliss. For the moment, all was well with my world. And everything is going to be well with the world too. Soon.
(Around four years back, on November 18, 2016, Zainab came across a badly injured stray kitten on the roadside near the British Council area. She and her father rushed the kitten to the Capital Veterinary Centre, and after the vet tended to its injuries, Zainab decided to adopt him. She named the little one Simba. Today Simba is weighing over six kilos and could easily be the biggest pet cat in the Mumtaz area.)