The Boca Story
Boca was a doll-face, quiet Persian cat. Every single second spent with him filled me with pride and delight, infusing a vast amount of paradise-like feelings. To my dismay and delight, the divine power of Boca was revealed on several occasions. Small surprise I inscribed the term, Lord, before Boca when the tomb-shrine was being built. Besides, his peculiar habits of socializing with high and low convinced me of his socialistic orientation. Therefore, Lord Boca became the ‘divine socialist cat.’
The cute feline was with me for almost nine months in 2014 ahead of passing away on 27th September. In the course of nine months the fluffy, long white-haired male cat became a special member and later guardian angel cat to my original cat family of Queen Milly, Pompy, Belina, Tipu, Gloria, Whisky, Rummy, Vodka and Brandy. As time flew, Napoleon, Stalin, Lenin, Lohia and others sired by Boca would bring more curiosity and company to me. But it was not an easy ride for Boca. Pompy was reluctant at the beginning in welcoming him. Probably a week or two later she stopped swearing in a menacing fashion and started kissing his flat nose muzzle and white wires of whisker. Slowly and steadily I began to experience something extraordinary in his placid nature, affectionate glances, easy friendliness towards strangers and sudden surge in his aggressive behavior when confronted with hostile behavior of wild cats in the neighbourhood or of some people visiting me off and on.
His big, dark blue eyes would radiate a beautiful beam of lustiness as well as loveliness. His wide head, pouty face, short muzzle, thick furry tail and short and swift legs reminded me of the ‘little white lion’ of the wonderland. Gifted with wonderful contrast of agility and nonchalance, Boca was a fearless warrior. I fell in love with him and his constant company would annoy even my better half and quite a number of acquaintances.He was fond of gentle rub from the roof of his head to the tip of his tail, responding with soft meowing with each stroke of my palm and fingers. I named him after Boca Junior, soccer club of Argentina where Diego Maradona honed his dribbling and passing skills before bewitching the football fans worldwide with his wizardry.
Remembering him is a painful contemplation. His memory invades my mind with nostalgia. I vividly recall quite a string of startling moments. It so happened one fine morning of May 2014 a room service boy rang the door bell with a tray-full of boiled chicken meat. Just as he pushed the door he found his leg jammed with nearly all the kittens and cats jostling for the slice of meat. In a blink of an eye, his feet fell on the paw of a kitten, Napoleon. The roaring screaming of the kitten jerked me out of a deep slumber. It was a cry of agonising pain. Lo and behold! Boca jumped in the air like a ferocious hunter and buried his teeth into the throat of the waiter. In the blinking moment of bewilderment I rushed to the doorstep to see with my groggy eyes that the poor waiter was lying fainted on the floor while Boca was licking his lip in anticipation of further trouble. Just about the time I started wondering what a logical contrast of aggression and quietness Boca could be!
Cuddling between my legs while I am in deep sleep or reclining in sofa, Boca would be craving for gentle rub. Not only from me but he would solicit rub attention from some more people turning up at my place. I would stroke entire fluffy haired body of the little white lion as and when he jumped into my arms. In a month or so of his arrival, there was a strange story of one friend visiting from abroad. He started making a wish while taking a bow before Boca. A few days later he reported about a hugely surprising impact of his wish-making. That Boca would be blessing good souls and refraining from cuddling with bad souls began to affect me a great deal. Quite a good number of visitors were stunned into disbelief with the magical impact.
A few months later I was absolutely convinced of the divine power and authority of Boca. Still I wouldn’t say I became superstitious having so far until the age of 36 resisted the temptation of bowing before deities and lords of different religion. Growing belief in divinity of Boca has had a cascading effect on my mental landscape. A mere sight of him was uplifting my spirits and merely invoking his images while I would be away for weeks brought spiritual ecstasy.
One hot afternoon of May in 2012 I was relaxing at my sixth floor house in a Mumbai suburb apartment. When I looked into the curtain-less door, there she was walking down the steps from the seventh floor. In a flash of few seconds, Queen Milly, a wild cat of ginger colour, entered the drawing room and slither past my legs in a swift movement to survey every corner of the house and returned to perch herself under the table I was working. My all attempts of persuasion fell flat. She didn’t want to move out. She was adamant in her stand. Milly was obdurately defying my request. With so much authority and grace she was squatting on the floor under my table that her empress-like presence melted my heavy heart. Not that I was filled with a great sense of shock and awe. Never before did I have any kind of such experience with feline even though I was fascinated with many legendary tales of cat’s intelligence, wisdom, rapidity of pace and control of movement and their beautiful deep-set sparkling eyes and walks like a ramp model. Her majestic albeit cold conduct reminded me of the poem I had enjoyed recitation of over and over again during 8th standard at school.
Macavity-The Mystery Cat of Sir Walter Scott had been planted into my subconscious like a rock of the cave since then. As a consequence my mind was in a bind. I had to go out of Mumbai along with my actor-wife Fermina Mukta Singh for a fortnight. However, we left Milly outside the door. Two weeks later when Fermina returned, she was taken in by musical scores of meowing just as the lock opened. Milly was inside the house ahead of Fermina. Thereafter we decided to shelter her and so much enchanted both of us became with her adorable habits and tastes, such as her penchant for cleanliness and care-free slumbering that we began pampering her like a child. In August, Milly delivered three beautiful kittens, Pompy, Belina (Fermina called her Bebo and loved her like a doting mother) and male cat Tipu, I named after young socialist leader and Uttar Pradesh’s youngest Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the Bicycle man and pioneer of Tech-socialism in India’s heartland politics.
When you love someone you want to know what they are thinking. Thereupon gradually I reached a stage in my life when Milly and her kittens would lighten my heavy heart in distress. Since 2010 I have been dividing my time between London, Mumbai and Lucknow with brief stop-over in Lahore and Islamabad for my literary projects. After publishing Imran Versus Imran: The Untold Story, a definitive political biography of Pakistan cricket legend-turned-politician Imran Khan in spring of 2011, I began work on political biography of India’s socialist patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and young socialist leader Akhilesh Yadav. Literary longings in the heartland of north India ensured I would be spending more time in Lucknow and other areas of Uttar Pradesh. I enjoyed the place and people, unique blend of multicultural experience in composite fabric of secular and socialist lifestyle in the city of Nawb, Lucknow. For the next couple of years there would be month-long stay at a mid-budget hotel, Deep Palace owned by a good friend, US-educated young businessman Nishant Jaiswal, in heart of Lucknow where I was all by myself for weeks and months.
Company of cats in the Tinsel Town home would begin haunting me upon return to Lucknow. So when Pompy became pregnant with a Persian cat in Mumbai, lack of adequate space at a modest apartment flat forced me to bring her and four kittens to their new world in Lucknow. Moving from the western shores of Mumbai to eastern fields of north India, I ventured for an arduous road journey lasting forty hours. It was quite an adventure, pregnant with delightful moments of nervousness and excitement. Pompy and her daughter Gloria along with Whisky, Rummy, Brandy and Vodka (expired only surviving 63 days cold infection) braved the chilly winter of northern India before sunny days returned to warm their hearts in springtime .
Gloria was growing up fast and so was Pompy. Both would be meowing in desperate desire for lusty mating but there was no male cat available around the sprawling hotel compound. Moaning of meowing cats jolted my consciousness. My mind would be in turmoil thinking how to satiate their yearnings. It was sexual desire and desperation for mating in Pompy and Gloria that forced me to look for a handsome male Persian cat. A popular socialist worker from Allahabad, Abhishek Yadav, intimated my wish to a promising journalist Omar Rasheed of Lucknow bureau for the prestigious morninger The Hindu. Omar was quite prompt in assurance. Moreover, I was happy to know someone like him who himself was a good victim of cat fancy. The young correspondent linked me with a gentleman called Maher Khan Sunny of the old city. At end of January last week I could get Boca for a good sum of 18 thousand, thereby, bringing swift halt to frustration of my felines. Gloria was delirious with joy sighting Boca whereas Pompy was cautious in befriending him for some weeks.
In a week or so Boca settled down beautifully with Pompy and family. On 14th April, Gloria gave birth to six cute kittens from Boca, whom I named Stalin, Lenin, Lohia, Napoleon, Little Glroy and Lieutenant Governor-twin female kittens who have taken after the country brown colour of Gloria. After a month of Gloria’s motherhood, Pompy also delivered five more kittens sired by Boca, whom I named Pope, John, Paul, Pauline and Pompey Jr. Before departure for his heavenly abode, Boca could sire 23 children from three wives he had taken in my cat family. In the vicinity of hotel compound he was roaming like a lion in the night. So I fairly assume he had turned out to be the Emperor feline running his own ‘Boca Harem.’ It is often said that curiosity killed the cat. And it was no exception with him as well. A free lover and adventurer of Marco Polo scale, Boca often would drift out of the close walls and glass doors of the hotel compound. Once upon a time only in the search for more mating partners he meandered through a tiny hole into the large Air Conditioner plant, infested with a large number of rats. After his successful rat-killing exploits, he became a habitual hunter in the plant. For hours lasting day and night, he would be holed up in the dark, dingy and dank surface feasting on the army of rodents, hunting and eating them with relish.
Little wonder, abdominal infection turned fatal and for lack of medical attention in my long absence consumed the lordly cat ahead of maturing into the sunset of life. He died a brave cat in pain and agony. His demise put me into depression. Building a tomb on the mound of his burial site was a natural wish. Boca passed away on 27 September 2014 at my new accommodation B/5 in Dilkusha Colony of Lucknow. His tomb in white tiles is a shrine today with visitors streaming in from different walks of life and different parts of Lucknow and outside the province of Uttar Pradesh. Wish-granting saga is growing wings with emergence of some phenomenal revealing stories. First with the mason himself who built the shrine and fifteen days later he could get a high-paying job in the Gulf state of Emirates. He confessed he had made a fervent wish while building the shrine. Futhremore, when I commissioned the statue of Boca to a local sculptor in old area of Lucknow, Monu and his boys were a little startled with my request. However, they took up the challenge and succeeded in sculpting the marvelous replica of Boca. While they were installing the statue on 29th December on the tomb, I was astonished to learn about their good-luck story. Monu claimed his small factory is flooded with quite a large number of orders. Besides, there was a tremendous improvement in the well being of his family.
Passion and fervor for keeping my cats in good humour is also inspired by the circle of superstition associated with them in Indian Hindu mythology. People in both city and village have some silly belief about bad omens. However, other faiths and western and Oriental societies have given tons of affection and honour to cat. Crossing the road and to come to screeching halt at the mere sight of a cat running across is a popular tale which I believe must be read in the divine perspective. A cat passing ahead of us is issuing a divine warning rather than bringing woeful tide. Probably in my eternal experience cats are special creature than others as they are gifted with the sixth and seventh sense. Their divine ability to predict the incidents of joy and sorrow turns them into object of admiration and amazement for me. I make fervent appeal to people of India to adopt a cat and shower upon them affection and care like they do to their children.
In memoriam of Boca, I have composed a poem. On the day of unveiling of the Boca statue, 30 December, I invited representatives of all religions to lead the prayer for spirit and soul of Boca. Along with Hindu priest, there was a Maulana and a Padri, Christian clergy. The poem, Boca Divine, was composed to musical tune by a professional orchestra in a musical tribute followed by rendition of some philosophical and socialist songs from both Bollywood and Hollywood.
In memoriam of Boca Divine
By Frank Huzur
O, Boca Divine!
Cat cute Feline
Beat of our heart !
Feat of the Crown chart
Boca is not only meow
But also sigh and sermon about
In love he is the moon
In lust he is the sun boon
Big boy cat licks his whiskers
Wags furry tail in careless whispers
Gloria his first love-lust
Pompy his thirsty play must rust...
Joy of the morning
Boca is king of the night
Prince of the spring dawn
Honey dew waters his soul
Sorrow cuts sorry figure
In front of Boca Caesar
In blue diamond ring of Boca eyes
I saw dance of bright star rubies
In paw power of white lion
Magic pull of magnetic field wire
Boca could fly like a kite
Surf the sky like a hawk night
Walk the land like a stud
Triggering fountain flirting flood
O, Boca Divine!
Cat cute Feline
Little White lion
in Stalin, Tipu, Napoleon and Lohia
Beatles tune in peace concert
When Boca yawns in wonder
Curiosity couldn't kill
Lord of magic stone feel
Touch of the magnolia flower
Needle of the rose power O Boca Divine! Bear-faced cheek!
Tiger-like conquer spirit!
Stare of the intoxication wine
O, Boca Divine!