Seated in a restaurant with terrible food but terrific views of Porto Moniz, Madeira,
we suddenly got distracted by a beautiful cat, walking calmly along the narrow edge of the wall like it was a broad promenade on which she was doing a catwalk, but looking mildly perturbed which is about as drastic an expression as cats permit themselves in order to retain their reputation of being cool (Narrator’s Note: A 67-word first line. Not bad, even if I say so myself).
While I was still forming this long, rambling sentence in my mind, the cat spoke up, “Have you seen her anywhere?”
“I’m sure we must have, but I can neither confirm nor deny this till the time you tell me who exactly are we talking about,” I exclaimed, trying to hide my surprise at seeing a cat speak like this. It was Portugal after all, so she should have been been talking in Portuguese or French, not English.
She swiped her paw in my direction lazily at that, and I felt a sharp spike of pain as I realized that she had just scratched my face. Before I could register my indignation, she drawled, “Don’t ask such stupid questions. I’m obviously talking about my sister, from whom I was separated during the Kumbh Ka Mela when we both were just two months old (Narrator’s Note: Kumbh Ka Mela, or the Festival/Fair of the Kumbh(a container) is a legendary fair in India, held every 12 years on the same site. There is some religious significance to the fair, but that is insignificant in context our story. It is more famous because siblings ALWAYS get separated from each other or from their parents when they go to this fair. At least that is what we learnt growing up under the tutelage of Bollywood in the 1970s and ’80s).
She continued “I got adopted by a big Don, and grew up to be rich and powerful just like him. However, I have no idea where my sister is, so I am now looking for her. I’m willing to give a million Euros to anyone who helps me find her.”
My face lit up like sun on steroids as I heard this. A million Euros could change my life forever. I wouldn’t have to beg publishers for getting my books published, I could just buy them out and publish my books myself. Imagine.
” I’ll do it, ” I said, for I knew something that this cat did not. I knew the location of her sister. In fact, I had met her just that morning, in a small village called Sao Vicente. The poor cat was blind, so I had stopped to steal some milk from her bowl. She’d told me she too had been separated from her sister in the same fair.
I rushed back towards the village, retracing my steps. Climbing the tallest sea cliff in Europe at Cabo Girao(580 meters)
swimming across the Bride’s Veil waterfall in Seixal,
and running across the second highest motorable road in Madeira at 1500 meters
in the process.
Huffing puffing, bleeding from various scratches, and broken in places that I didn’t even know existed in my body, I finally arrived in the church at Sao Vicente,
and without saying a word, picked up the blind cat, and started running back, re-retracing my steps.
Finally, on the verge of collapse, I reached Porto Moniz again, where the original cat was waiting for me.
I threw the cat in front of her, and said, “I’ll prefer my payment in cash, if you don’t mind.”
“Are you blind?” the cat asked.
“Yes, she is indeed,” I replied, “but I’m sure with your resources, you can easily get her eyesight restored.”
Suddenly, I felt a stab of pain on the other side of my face, and the cat growled, “I wasn’t talking about HER.”
“What do you mean?” I cried out.
“That you are an idiot, of course,” she replied, “and that she is clearly not my sister. For one, she’s at least 12 years older than me, for another, she looks nothing like me, while my sister and I were identical twins.”
And now, there was a scratch on my arm, as the blind cat joined in the fun, and said,” You ass, you still don’t understand, do you? Her sister was lost in the Kumbh Mela of 2016, while I was separated from my sister in 2004.”