Last Saturday Rekha and I went to drop off my mother and younger sister at the railway station. They were catching the 9 p.m. Nellai Express to reach Madurai on Sunday morning.
We got into the car – I in my favorite driver`s seat – took the right turn to reach the apartment`s exit gate…and right then, in front of my eyes a black cat crossed our car. I jammed the brakes.
“What happened?” My mother asked.
I knew my mother was superstitious and I also knew Rekha was superstitious when it was anything to do with my mother. “A black cat just crossed us,” I mumbled.
I hadn`t even finished my sentence when my younger sister jumped up from her seat and tried to look out. “Where is the black cat? I can`t see anybody.” She asked.
I wondered why my sister was so excited about a black cat. I knew she had a thing for dogs – in the last three years she has brought home 18 puppies only to abandon them when they ceased to be puppies. Even as I wondered, she added: “Finally, I get to see a black cat in flesh and blood.”
The rest of us in the car cried out in unison: “Excuse me?!”
She looked at us in a confused state…threw up her arms and said: “OK fine, I accept I have special warmth for the black cats. Knowing that Jayalalitha lives in Chennai, I knew I would get to see one here….but that was a close miss.”
It took us a while to convince my sister that it was indeed a black cat – not the gun-totting type but one that walks on all fours. Once that done, the rest of us started focusing on what should be the next step. I asked my mother if we should proceed to the railway station.
At that moment only three of us were concerned about the black cat crossing the car…Rekha, my mother and myself. While I was neutral to any decision they might take, I knew exactly what Rekha and my mother would have been thinking.
Rekha: Gosh, don`t tell me you guys going to cancel the trip and staying back in Chennai for another week? Should I suggest that crossing of a cat from the left to right is not an issue?
My Mother: I can stay back, but Rekha could be a problem. I noticed the excitement in her eyes when I started packing. Can I say that crossing of a black cat from the left to right can be really, really bad?
I won`t tell you what happened after that…because that would be like washing dirty linen, bedsheets, trousers, towels, skirts, shirts, tops etc in public. But yes, we did make it to the railway station.
As we sat in the train waiting for it to leave so that we could say the final byes and go back home, my younger sister jumped up in her seat. “Look! A black cat!”
None of us was interested in a second black cat for the evening and didn`t turn. It was only after my sister said she could even see Tamil Nadu`s ex-Chief Minister Jayalalitha that we turned….there were six Black Cats guarding her as if she were a pail of milk.