In Focus

Pyare is 'back'...as a cat!

By Manu Shrivastava

On 4 June 2020, the day after Cyclone Nisarga hit Mumbai leaving a trail of destruction in its wake as trees fell left, right and centre to the bout of torrential rains and gutsy winds, a new-born kitten sat all curled up under a Royal Enfield motorcycle's cover bang outside this publication's Colaba office.

MIRACULOUS RETURN: Pyare - The Cat peers through his squinted eyes at bewildered friends

As the owner of the vehicle arrived, he peered between the sheets with a distinct familiar look of mischief as this office staff took his in to tend to his needs. As his eyes opened up the next few days, he would look, albeit squintedly, at his new family purring violently each time he'd be left alone.

With a distinct sense of entitlement, he walked through the office and sat plum under the chair, just like Pyare would. This, despite everyone trying to shoo him off fearing he'd get in the way and get hurt. Owing to the lockdown, the streets lay empty and there would be little human activity except for in the media office that stayed open day and night owing to the essential nature of the service provided. And the cat made it his home.

PALS: Fizan with
Pyare - The Cat
When Fizan, the neighbourhood chap and cynosure of all eyes, all of four, came to the office again after months of staying indoors, he ran to the cat and hugged it hard, saying, "Dekho, Pyare aa gaya...Mein bola tha aa jayega." And, although everyone humored him then, the thought stuck in everyone's head. Why else would a cat behave like a dog, take over a territory and its people, despite all the opposition?

Over the months, Pyare - The Cat, grew larger and stronger to be able to jump onto the very chair under which it would sit. The chair cover now looked a wee tattered owing to his sharp nails, but remained his. He would curl up next to Fizan who'd sit on the chair and pet him while watching a commercial or film.

And then, on 26 January 2021, a few well-meaning volunteers from the area took a six-month-old Pyare - The Cat to a nearby vet to get him sterilised as is the norm with street animals. On the next morning of the operation, Pyare - The Cat emerged from the state of anaesthesia and broke through the cage he was placed and bolted, much to the chagrin of the volunteers.

In the days and nights that followed, an overwhelming attempt to find him, dozens of cat volunteers in the vicinity looked for Pyare - The Cat, in alleys, below cars, in societies, everywhere. A few images of Pyare - The Cat, looking squinted and crazed as ever - did the rounds on WhatsApp Groups and on the Net, volunteers walked about jingling their keys hoping Pyare - The Cat responds as he would, but all failed. 

Fizan, on his part, once again, kept saying, "Aa jayega Pyare, woh kidhar bhi nahin jayega." And this time around, everyone hoped against hope his words would prove prophetic. But, it seemed like a far shot. Pyare - The Cat was small, couldn't see too far owing to his squint and hadn't ever moved out of the lane. Expecting him to cross roads and transverse through the swarm of people and oncoming traffic and return safe was near impossible.

BACK TO PAVILLION: Pyare - The Cat on the seat of the Royal Enfield under which he was first found

On 30 January 2021, when all seemed lost, Fizan, as usual, ran from his building to this media office that lay opposite, he pointed out to Pyare - The Cat, who had arrived from an unimaginable ordeal for over four days and nights, to this office, his home. He stood with all his ferocity despite the size and squint. It was nothing short of a miracle for him to return. And, he sits in his usual spot, now on the chair with Fizan smug with the attention he receives from one and all. He has taught everyone a precious lesson: When all seems lost, believe in your instincts. If you can't, ask a child. After all, he is the father of man.

Read the story about Pyare (the dog) here.

#StreetSmart is a column on street animals who live and die among us and get immortalised forever. If you know of such an animal, contact us on thedraftcolaba@draftcraft.in with a story complete with images. The Draft Colaba will document their journey and publish it here.