The Middle Path
A cat jumped
through the half-opened kitchen window,
knocking down in the process,
the steel-plate covering the milk in the pot.
With matching agility
to the protesting sounds
which reverberated through the dry afternoon.
By the moment I reached
the knocked-down plate had run out of breath
and I found the winking cat
ruining the milk.
To allow it to drink the milk
which I no longer needed
or to shoo it away
and throw the milk down the drain
was the question.
And I answered neither—
Opting to choose the Middle Path.
I allowed the intruder to drink
almost reassuring it with a readymade smile
and then, silently picking up the broomstick
like a small-time thief,
menacingly hit on its head,
displaying my human might.
(If drawn empathetically
the sight of the cat
with regret, surprise and anger
flashing on its face for a split second,
could become a fine piece of art.)
Then with a winning smile,
I picked up the pot
and threw the milk down the drain.
I could not have taken the risk
of encouraging an animal.
First Published in 'Indian Literature', May-June 2001, New Delhi