“Mom, you are cheating… You promised that you’ll give Zeus a chance.”
Joan gave her son one of her stern looks, which even worked with Chris, his father. “I promised no such thing.” She was not sure whether it was the look that worked or his own disappointment, but Alwin fell silent, with a stubborn this-is-not-over expression on his face.
She tried hard to make Al understand that they could not keep the stray kitten he had brought on the way back from school. Kids did things like this all the time. She had let him keep it for a day and it was nothing short of a catastrophe. Joan and Chris did not live in luxury. They both worked very scrunching schedules that it was almost a miracle when they found time to do something of leisure. They just managed to stay afloat, with nothing to hold but each other. For this very same reason Joan did not want to keep the kitten. She didn’t want to share. Or rather, lose their time together. Not to mention the mess.
But looking at Alwin, she was having second thoughts. She herself never had a pet and she knew from experience that pets taught humans how to love and how to express that love. More often than not, she had felt lacking in this lesson in her life. Her own childhood was devoid of such affections or any sort of open expressions. She didn’t know to give away a hug freely, as in, for no apparent reason. She didn’t know to cuddle, or even to sweet talk to kids; forget talking with pets. Long back she had held a bird in her hands. The feel of the frantic heartbeat of a living thing in her palms; made her jittery and overwhelmed.
Things had changed after Alwin was born- life created out of Chris’ and her own flesh and blood and soul. But a life is a life; human or animal; and she was nervous to handle it. She wanted to get over this peculiar inhibition but she didn’t know how to. Chris was doing more than his share, in everything. Only he could love and live with the mess she was.
Joan looked at Alwin who was still sulking. Was he also missing the lesson on love? To care and to protect? Alwin had requested to keep the kitten with a passion she had never seen before. She was unable to turn a blind eye to that urge to care in her son’s eyes. Was she denying a chance to Zeus? Most importantly, wasn’t it more about her son?
As she drove towards home on the grey winding road, lined with green lush trees, the sun was melting in the sky. She felt like she was driving into molten gold, straight into the heart of nature. Such beauty and power, glowing right in front of her. One only needed to look up and see how magnificent things are around you.
“Mooommmmm… Why can’t we keep Zeus? Its just a cat. I’ll take care of it! I promise…” Alwin’s small sound drew her out of her reverie. Right beside her was another miracle of the life. Maybe, this was also her chance to take…
“Tell me Al, why should we keep Zeus? And from where on earth did you get the idea of naming a cat after the Greek god?”
Al must have seen the hint of a silver lining for this case for Zeus because he smiled. A full wide smile, showing his gums and all the teeth, even the one with a broken edge on the left side. Joan decided to really keep the kitten just for that happiness on her son’s face.
“We should keep Zeus because we can. And actually, I wanted to call it Dracula, you know, with all that black color…”
“Then I guess, I should be glad that you picked Zeus…”
“That’s exactly why I chose Zeus. I didn’t think you wanted one more terror in the house.”
“Yeah. Am the first… Right?” Al winked, naughty humor glinting in his eyes.
Joan’s looked at her seven year old son and realized how soon he had grown up. She was finally getting those lost lessons on love, that too from her own son.
“No Al, the first is your father!” Joan winked back at her son.
And he laughed before threatening her, “Wait till I tell this to him… Do you think dad will like the name?”
” You bet!”