Friday, February 20, 2015

Sleeping with Mummy’s

Chhana Chatterjee's home
When I was a student in Bombay, our home used to have a little visitor from the neighbourhood. Named Shompa, she was 3 months old when her father or mother came to drop her at our place for the whole day, while they went to work. Shopma was an unplanned child and her elder sister was already 10 years when quite by chance, Shopma’s decided to visit planet earth. My aunt, who loved babies, was overjoyed to have Shopma around and I too took much pleasure in this little bundle. One of the things I remember about her is that after her feed, you had to place in her hand, her mother’s handkerchief which turned out to be her ‘security blanket’. As soon as she held it in her little hands, she fell asleep. The procedure was the same, if she cried for some reason – once you placed her ‘security blanket’ in her hand, she became quiet.

Only very recently, I came across another experience with ‘security blanket’ when a tiny little cat, picked up from near the garbage on the road, exhibited similar behavior.

Chhana Chatterjee’s home with his single mother is in the Suburban Bombay. He is the size of a tiny white ball, resembling the Indian dahiwala’s ball of makkhan, which translates like this, for those who do not know the terms, dahiwala – man who sells milk and curd at the local market; makkhan is the equivalent of home-made butter, got from churning milk cream. If that too is too difficult to imagine, then just settle for a very large snow ball, fluffy and soft. Yes, that is Chhana Chatterjee! 

Little ChhanaChaterjee with Otto
Leave that as it may, the cute little story I began to tell you was that little Chhana Chatterjee, sleeps by himself all alone in his basket, because, Otto, the black and white larger cat, you saw in the picture up there, sleeps with his mother on her bed, making noises all night, to wake her up and play. Not a very nice thing to do, because, his mother works all day and needs her sleep in the night, but Otto, who has slept all day, is ready to play at night! And if you are sleeping with Auto’s mother, God save you!

Suddenly in the middle of the night, you might just have a gentle paw spread right across your face, trying to wake you up. Never mind the ill manicured and smelly toes - Psssst! Hope his mother is not reading this – you are most likely to jump out of your skin and not only your bed and let out a sharp loud cry that can split the night air and tear it to fragments. Thank God it is Bombay, you say, where the night never sleeps nor the sound decibel ever gets low.

But, no matter what, Chhana Chatterjee continues to sleep because; he has what Otto does not have. And I will give you a fraction of a second to tell me what it is.

The ‘security blanket’ of course!

Snuggled under the T-Shirt, which has been worn by his mother and therefore has her smell, little Chhana Chatterjee sleeps on. The moment his mother puts the T-shirt over his ‘home’, even if the lights in the room are glaring and can make you blind, for Chhana, it is night! Until the T-shirt is taken off, or rather the ‘security blanket’ removed, Chhana Chatterjee is cozy and fast asleep! In his mind, he is sleeping with Mummy’s.

Just like Shopma with her ‘security blanket’ in my student days in Bombay! Aren't human beings so much like cats?

Acknowledgement - Thank you Debika Chhaterjee for providing the real life photographs

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