KV (05-12-1973 / Muzaffarpur)

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
I responded
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
hastily retreating
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

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Comments (1)

interesting and suggestive!