• 24 Mar - 30 Mar, 2018
  • Kiran Ashraf
  • Fiction

The ginger tabby cat walked along with Rafay, all happy and merry. Her tiny feet and shiny nails produced occasional musical taps as her nails hit the metal of the railway tracks. Like a man treading through a beautiful scenic valley, she radiantly wandered twitching her little nose which had the undertones of pink.

Walking along the tracks looking at the cloudy sky, the whole situation felt bizarre to Rafay, yet it was strangely peaceful. Just like a solitary flower lying on an almost rusted porch of an annihilated building. Of all the things he ever imagined of encountering, he never quite expected a fluffy cat to be one of them, lost in this desolate land. Just like anyone else who is near to killing himself, he shooed away the feline for many hours it may seem but consistently found the creature’s wet nose pressed against his skin, sniffing his fear with those round unblinking green eyes staring at him, questioning his sanity. Can an animal really understand what is going on in his head? Why he came here? And what is to come?

“What am I going to do with you, hmmm?” he murmured, reaching to scratch behind her pointy ears. Her brown fur felt like velvet between his fingers. “Poor kitty, you seem to find your way back to this helpless man, don’t you?” The warmth of her soft coat was a pleasant tingle against his skin. It seemed like if only the cat wasn’t lacking the faculties for basic speech, she would have responded. However, it did not stop her from acting out her reply. Her tail wagged in speed until her entire body was engaged in a vibrant wriggling dance. Barely able to keep up with her footing, she licked her tiny tongue out swiping it up at the back of Rafay’s hands again and again.

“Would you have the pleasure of hearing a dead man’s tale? You have the honour of being the only one who gets to hear it.” A chuckle rolled up from Rafay’s chest as he watched her rolling over in excitement. “Here we go then. So, I wasn’t born poverty-stricken. The family provided enough for me to get a good education and make a name for myself. I ended up as a banker working five days a week for nine hours, sometimes ten as well. I never figured out the logic behind decisions I made… I just did what everybody else was doing. Never thought of what aspires me or makes me happy. I only wanted to make it big and when I made the money I always desired, it felt less. Therefore, like all the intelligent men would do, I started working more. I started tutoring, I did assignments for cash, hell, I actually landed into this never-ending whirlpool of riches and money,” he paused.

The cat suddenly slid her front paws forward and lay flat on her tummy surprisingly content with the fact that her bed is not made of plush material, its cold metal instead. “You certain are not the grim reaper? I don’t want my confessions disclosed to you,” he informed, rather seriously. The cat paid no heed to his concern. Rafay draped his hands over her head, amused by the way it fit beneath his palm. “Seems to me that I might end up having my full disclosure with you after all,” he continued. “Wealth, property, treasure… they all make you hungry for much more right? I faced the same. I just lost my track. Got involved in activities I shouldn’t have and did things I would forever regret. Now all that is left is emptiness… a void.”

She yawned, face scrunching up, and Rafay sighed gently. He came here to find meaning or let the train tracks be his death. Instead, he is at the mercy of an adorable yet spunky animal. Yet, here he is, smiling to himself while absently stroking her fur.

“You know buddy if I name you… I might never get rid of you,” he informed the tabby. For a moment, her curious eyes gazed him with all the innocent wonder. He playfully raised an eyebrow and she tilted her head revealing her soft chocolate fur underneath.

Before coming here, Rafay had nothing to go back too. The guilt of all his wrongs keep coming back to him and the possibility of repentance just seems so vague now. Was he wrong? Is there any chance to start over and be good again? Surprisingly, he never gave it a thought. All that revolved around his head was ways to eradicate his existence. Breathing was becoming difficult to focus on any alternative thoughts. Watching a living creature paying such attention towards him despite all the ruckus he caused, its healing. There was gentleness and goodness, embracing him. This total attention of a living being, simple and pure consciousness is nothing but love itself. What if he stops fighting himself, no more conflict? Maybe repentance isn’t a threat at all; maybe it’s an invitation. He once read somewhere that: “One who created all this beauty can never leave you to yourself.”

A smile tugged up at the corner of his mouth. “Hope,” he murmured all of a sudden and glanced down. The cat had one eye fixed on him almost expectantly. Rafay repeated the word and waited for a reaction. The cat continued to stare at him. Rafay hummed quietly.

“Do you like this name little fella? Hope?”

They held each other’s gaze for a little longer. Neither one willing to let go. Then much to his relief, Hope gave a small meow and relaxed her head on his lap. •