When the visiting leopard spoke

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We found our cage door open. We looked at each other silently. There were five of us sitting on the hard ground looking hesitantly at the open cage door. We didn’t know where we were, but we have been here since we were tiny balls of furry spotted felines, and never had we seen the door open for so long. I looked at my sibling but he averted my glance. I looked at him harder. He looked back and read me. I looked at my other siblings and they all seemed to think exactly what I was thinking.  I cast one quick fiery look around. It was a pitch dark night.

We were hungry.

We walked out.

We headed out to the forbidden. My sister’s shiny coat glistened in the darkness, and my brother’s brawny shoulders moved up and down as he took silent steps ahead. We walked stealthily. Finally we decided to stop and take a good look around. There were artificial lights put up by ‘the humans’ where we had stopped. I wanted to prance around for having come out of my cage but the cold looks of my brother froze my limbs. I looked back but could not spot our home. Maybe we were too far. Would we get back if we wanted to? Could we get back if we wanted to?  I shut down these questions with the happiness of freedom and marched ahead.

Slowly we realized that our natural habitat seemed less natural. We had left our home far behind. The trees seemed to diminish and we could see more of tiny glistening lights all around. Had we stepped out of our borders? Had we stepped in the land of our enemies?

Had we come to ‘human-land’?

I felt a shudder down my cat-spine, but I didn’t let it deter my feline spirit. I called over to my siblings, and we walked on like powerhouses of hungry yellow in the dark.

Suddenly, we heard a screech somewhere. A shrill screech followed by incoherent thumping of the ground. It sounded like ‘the human.’

I looked at my younger sister and asked her “What?! Is there ‘a human’ around? Have we been spotted? Was it ‘a human’ who saw us?”

She looked scared. “We have to hide. Fast! Hurry up. We have to hide somewhere. ‘A human’ saw us! How could we stray so far! We have to hide.”

We tried to run in all possible directions. I crouched under a bush, and waited with bated breath to see if there were any ‘humans’ around. My brothers and sisters were also around somewhere, but I could not see them.  It was suddenly quiet everywhere. I came out of the bush and tip-toed cautiously. Soon I saw a door and seeing it open, I walked in. It seemed like a big house with a lot of rooms. I was the only one there. I moved around with extreme caution and with a huge cavern of hunger in me. I couldn’t find anything to eat. I came out and saw that there was an open stretch of empty land with few trees. Feeling exposed, and feeling scared, I walked back inside to see a huge water body. It was not a natural water body like the one near my house. It seemed more planned and constructed. More ‘human.’

The word ‘human’ boiled my blood and also gave me shivers.

I had almost dozed off. I woke up to find myself alone with a volcanic hunger rising within me. I didn’t know where my brothers and sisters were. Were they lost? Did ‘the humans’ catch them? Where can I get some food in this concrete jungle? How do these ‘humans’ live here?

I was almost getting paranoid with these questions when I heard a lot of noise. Oh, I shuddered again! ‘The humans’! ‘The humans are coming. I have to hide. Oh where do I hide?’  A lot of questions started rumbling within me and I was hopeless. On one hand, my hopelessness was driving me crazy while on the other hand, the voices of the humans was approaching faster and clearer. My black and white world suddenly saw strains of red danger.

I was in DANGER.

I was in extreme danger. Now I had to face my enemy, ‘the humans’ who took away our trees and homes and built their own jungle of bricks.  I geared up to face my enemy. I breathed deep and mustered my courage for ‘the human.’

Slowly, the voices came nearer and nearer, and suddenly, a wave of ‘humans’ came from somewhere. They rushed in and some were screaming. I ran away near the pool and ‘a human’  tried to catch me. I roared at him and ran away. I had always dreaded this peril to of being attacked by ‘humans’ and now I was in this peril. My dad had always warned me to stay away from them, but here I was, attacked by a giant wave of marauding foe. I looked around for all avenues of escape but couldn’t find any. Is the ‘human’ vision different from the feline vision? Will they kill me if they catch me? I was nonplussed and asked myself vague questions. These questions seemed useless now. All I had to do was protect myself.

Suddenly, another ‘human’ tried to catch me, and this time I didnt let go. I protected myself and bit his hand. He let me go. I saw another ‘human’ trying to climb a fence. Angry, hungry, confused, scared, I went and dragged him down. I ripped his clothes. He tried to throw me down. I leapt up and bit his hand.  I tasted hot blood. ‘Human’ blood. I smelt it, and I felt overjoyed. I felt victorious.

I tried to run away and jumped up on the fence, but I fell. And I fell into a net that was cast by my enemy. My legs sprung up in the air and I felt a shot. Did the ‘humans’ shoot me? Are they trying to kill me? Slowly, my legs were becoming numb. My eyes were heavy. I fell with a thud.

I woke up to find myself in my home. The cage door was shut. Looking around, I saw my sisters there. We exchanged our ‘human’ stories. Apparently, they too were shot to sleep and they woke up here. But where were my brothers?

My brothers. They are still missing.

(Photo Courtesy: thesunnywindow.com.)