The orange cat that mews unseen from the foliage surrounding the cafeteria was unusually loud the other day, and insistent, and was out among the stairway steps in view of everyone. After she'd been at it a long time someone realized she was pleading for help and a few went up to her she led them to a ditch on the campus. She had littered under a granite slab over the ditch, and her kitten were covered over by a swarm of large black ants. That was in the morning. The babies died in the afternoon.
Now she has taken to greeting me at the main portico when I arrive. Whether she is greeting my arrival or she is submitting a complaint, I cannot tell. Last week, I saw her in the courtyard by my room, and she bounded up the wall and leapt out of sight, just as I caught a glimpse of a large brown ball in her mouth, most of the furry thing out and bulging.
Brooding over that hapless thing, I remembered another rat that rose to the skies some weeks ago, a big furry round with a thin long tail, still like frozen, gripped by the talons of a hawk. How long is the rat alive, and aware, from when the cat or the bird commences to feed on it? I don't want to know.
On the weekend, a snake's lifelong run in hiding ended in a gutter that runs by the factory stores. The security staff called home to inform about the catch, and described the colors of the snake: not a cobra, from the colors and the lack of a hood, not a water-snake either, from the length. "It's a viper!" Sujaya concluded. I tried to imagine the patterns of the colors, and pictured a beauty, and wondered at the habitat of that lovely creation—sometimes in the grass, sometimes among branches on trees, upon a rock basking in the sun in moments of perceived safety, and in ditches and drains and dank anthills at all other times.
All these creatures all round my workplace remind me now and then of rebirth, and of my sins small and serious. Will I be reborn a human, and returned to a life among colored cushions? Or, have I slipped already, and am I doomed to fall into something like a snake's life? Or worse? I am glad to not know.