Wednesday, January 4
Terrace, Kunnumpara, 15:42
I heard some new noises this morning: a small crowd doing what sounded like theatre exercises in a nearby quarry. After a while I decided that they probably had judo or political action in mind.
At 10:00 Sreni came to visit us. He has not driven us at all this holiday because he developed serious heart problems on a recent long-distance excursion, during which the travellers swapped to another car while he had an emergency examination in a near-by hospital.
He will have an operation in February and he thinks that he will make a full recovery. His eldest daughter will graduate with a science degree this Spring. His younger daughter will graduate as a journalist in fifteen months.
After Sreni had left, Irma and Naa rickshawed to Challai Market while I stayed with the girl Elvis and put the preliminary pieces of the new book into some sort of shape. We had company in the form of a very young stray kitten that wanted urgently to come in. For almost an hour Elvis howled and scratched on inside of the door and the kitten did the same on the outside. Eventually one of them lost interest, the noise died down, and Elvis went to sleep.
When Naa and Irma arrived back, I opened the door and the kitten raced straight into the house and immediately acted as though it lived there. It followed me up and downstairs, lay on the sofa, and didn’t mind when Irma decided to wash it with disinfectant shampoo. It didn’t bite, scratch, or struggle.
Now, after a big plate of dogfood and a saucer of milk, the new cat has jumped onto one of the chairs on the terrace, the one next to me, and immediately relaxed into a deep and untroubled sleep. It seems completely certain that it belongs here and so, I suppose, it does. We have decided to call it Polly because all the time I wrote it sat outside squawking like a parrot.
At 17:45 we will leave Polly on the terrace, take Elvis with us, and ride with Anil to Hawah Beach, because we have a table booked at Santana. I will choose a pomfrey, Naa will choose five enormous tiger prawns, and Irma will have her chicken chosen for her. They will all go into the tandoori and emerge as just the kind of food we like: not manically spicy but far from bland.
Michael will bring us cardboard crowns, as he does every year, and Elvis will grab three big cubes of Irma’s chicken.
When we get home we will find Polly on the terrace table shouting for food. After eating a lot of curd she will suddenly spring onto my lap. Whenever I move her to get up and do something she will wait until I sit down then leap onto my lap again. Nobody can explain where a young kitten so relaxed and sociable could have come from, or why.
We will leave her on the terrace with a bowl of curd when we go to bed.