Memories of Merlyn and Her Animal Kingdom…

We are living in this beautiful and wonderful world called Earth which is filled with many surprises. It is home to humans as well as for many other living creatures. A human being is the paramount living creature and an intelligent one. Many kinds of birds and animals also live alongside human beings. They may be wild animals or domestic animals.

History informs that Man hunted some of these animals for his food or business or even tamed them for one’s pleasure. However, when these animals were hunted for pleasure and food and their forest cover started vanishing in the name of development, these creatures have become rare and endangered and needed protection.

Many people love nature and are fond of animals and birds. They even nurse some as pets. Among such people was Merlyn, my daughter. She was a native of Bajpe, a tiny village in Karnataka state, and was a former Agnesian and a faculty member of School of Social science, Roshni Nilaya. My loving daughter Merlyn is no more. She left us at a young age of 24 years under tragic circumstances in 2002.

She was a nature-lover since her childhood. Her pets included cats, dogs, squirrels, pigeons, ducks, rabbits and many more. She was so attached to these pets that she made it a point to play and feed them everyday despite being tired with her school, college and work.

She had a bunch of a variety of pigeons. They used to sit on top of our house roof and would always wait for Merlyn to return home. When they noticed Merlyn they would rush to greet her, sit on her and ask for food and play with her.

Once it so happened that she fed cooked cabbage to a duck. The dish she had prepared was a bit extra yellow as she had put in some more turmeric while cooking. After eating enough of this, the duck had a cabbage dish bath as usually all the ducks do. But unfortunately the duck had turned yellow!

Her pet dog Jimmy adored her; he would drag Merlyn out when she would be alone at home as if to ask her to go for an evening stroll outside!

In one of the most interesting incidents, when she was returning home from her college, she happened to see a peculiar looking tiny rat like newborn creature outside our house in a bush. Its eyes were yet to open. It could have been a day old which was abandoned by its mother or dropped by a bird . It really looked strange, yet attractive.

Merlyn realized that it was so tiny and needed protection that she decided to bring it home and care for it. Later, we came to know that it was a baby toddy cat. It was blackish in colour, and had pearly eyes. Merlyn decided to christen it as Kajol, since it was dark yet beautiful. Merlyn was a little worried whether it would survive without its mother.

But our cat also happened to give birth to three kittens  and one of them had died a day before. The cat started treating Kajol like its own kitten, feeding her and carrying her along, The cat in fact had adopted it. It was a rare sight to see the wild and domestic animals thriving together just as if they were of the same family.

Merlyn was one happy person to see all this happen. Kajol used to eat all kinds of fruits. Grapes were its favourite. It was an interesting sight to see Kajol gulping down the pulp of the grapes and throwing out its skin within seconds. Kajol also liked papayas. Its adoptive mother – the cat – used to watch it. One fine day, we noticed that this cat had also started to eat papaya!

Since it was a toddy cat, Merlyn used to give a shot of toddy to Kajol. After a drink Kajol would be very playful and naughty. Every morning it used to come and wake up Merlyn by creating some peculiar sound. It really loved to be pampered.

Kajol used to hunt for her own food and fruits sometimes in the house and it used to eat them all sitting on top of the cupboard. Whenever we had any guests in our house it would go near and inspect them, sit on their lap or shoulders. For all of us it was a joyous experience. Everybody was so fond of it that people would just come to see and play with it. Kajol was a star and an icon.  She was never caged and would run freely all over the place, climbing and sitting on trees.

Another surprising thing was that our dog Jimmy used to watch Kajol quietly and never tried to harm it.  And the animals co-existed happily.

Now that Merlyn is not around, Kajol has found her permanent place in a nearby forest. The pigeons have flown away. The cat, the dog , the ducks have aged and are dead now.

Author: Stany DSouza- Bajpe- Mangalore