When I reach home, it’s late. It’s after a hectic day and a grueling drive. I let myself in with the key and walk silently into my room.
By the time I switch on the lights and sink on the bed to take off my shoes, he’s there.
He jumps up on the bed, rubs himself against me and purrs.  For the first few seconds, he is happy I am home. Then the complaints begin.
That’s Caesar.  All of 16 years. Growing grumbly as he grows old.
The conversation ensues.
Yes Caesar…
How was your day Caesar?
Oh! It wasn’t great, was it?
MOW! (Now that IS angry!)
Do you want to tell me what it is?
Of course he wants to tell me. He jumps off the bed and turns around to see if I am following him. His indignant look tells me to ‘move it’ and I heave myself off the bed to follow him.
I am shown his food bowl (one of the three) – that’s only half-filled! Sacrilege!
MOW! he says.
Meaning: Look how negligent they are in this house!
From there he leads me to the toilet where his litter tray is not exactly sparking clean.
MOW! I’m told.
Yes, Caesar. I’ll clean it.
He watches as I make is squeaky clean and leads me to the other bathroom.
Woah! The mug with his drinking water is only half full. For our man, it’s a glass half empty and the entire household has failed him. Once again.
Of course, I’ll refill it for you. He watches me refill it, but of course, doesn’t drink from it.
Satisfied with the round, we come back and I settle down to watch some mindless television and he settles down to ignore me for the rest of the evening.
His work is done.
The rounds are done.
The message has been loud and clear. MOW.
The entire household is inefficient (water not filled to the brim), uncaring (fresh food not refilled every 30 minutes) and positively unhygienic (litter tray not sanitized three times by three people).
After profuse apologies, when he goes round to curl himself up with his tail sticking into my nose, I know I am forgiven and all is well.
Caesar I miss you. 
My turn to  complain now.
You left us so suddenly – almost with the same uncertainty that you came to us.
That was memorable. It was the year 1998.
Ours had been suddenly designated a ‘petless’ house. After 17 strong years, Gooch my stray cat who ruled across two households had called it quits. The children had never known a house without him. Now suddenly it seemed strange. I held out for a while, watching in amusement  my daughter went to multiple households asking if we could ‘borrow’ their pets. These ranged from turtles to a squawky but dear parrot and several smelly but adorable dogs.
Then I succumbed.
I got two cats. .  The idea was to get the children to decide which one to keep. One was a beautiful grey Persian. The other was this good looking mixed-breed who came from some suspect lineage. Bad idea! We couldn’t choose. We kept both. And with the beautiful Cleo, Caesar came with a substantial The reign of Caesar and Cleo had begun.
It’s a long story full of antics, broken pots, destroyed plants, scratched sofas and a house full of fur. (And it’s also another post.)
This one is about Caesar. Caesar, the discount cat. The cat who was given to us almost free – with a regal Cleo – who never let him forget that. Caesar on the other hand didn’t mind at all. He grew large and furry and fat with happiness. And his happiness revolved around Cleo – except for the times she didn’t let him sleep or tripped him when he walked by.
But many a times I’ve walked into hallowed boardrooms full of hushed silence and teak wood furniture and serious bespectacled gentlemen, to brush off a huge tuft of fur stuck on the side of my trousers! There have been times when unsuspecting guest have walked away from the house with an unexpected gift of a ‘fur coating’ from Caesar.
Caesar grew to be fairly social. He partied with the teenagers. Watched hindi serials with the aging.  And frequently sat through long phone calls with me. Or watched me when I worked. When bored he walked across my laptop pressing several random keys (that’s making a statement, isn’t it?) and jumped off with a nonchalant air.
He was there to greet me always, always when I got home. As he got older it was largely to complain about the lack of the children being the house. That largely meant no one was there to entertain him.
There was always a mutilated box for Caesar in the room. A box that was his playpen, his property and his plaything. Try claiming the box and he held on to it with his paws sprawled across it covering every square inch with his ample girth. Then he looked up as is to say, Try and match that Buster!
Most of the time, like most of his relatives, he slept. That of course, was the daytime activity. At night, Caesar was in his element. And almost always on the wrong side of the door.
So it’s 3 am and he wants out of the room. He checks out whether you are fast asleep. Then systematically starts dropping things off the bedside table. One by one they go crashing down, till you get up, wild with irritation and throw him out of the door. Very blasé, he walks out, having achieved his objective.
To come back, the door stopper was raised niftily with a paw and then slammed down hard. If you had just settled back down into REM mode after sending him out 45 minutes ago, you are now almost falling off the bed startled out of your skin. You open the door to yell at him and he bounds in and curls up on the bed, settles down and goes to sleep!
Beast! I say as wearily I get back in to bed. He purrs, readjusts his fatness and goes back to sleep.
In September this year Caesar left us. Suddenly. He had a night of uneasiness, after which he decided to call it a day. He left more than 16 glorious years behind him and a few broken hearts.
As we pick up the pieces of our broken hearts, we still find fur in some corners of the house.
Caesar! We miss you.
You still rule.
We still hear that indignant MOW.
We still expect to see you at the door!
I do hope that wherever you are in Pet Heaven you are purring contentedly and having fun.
I do hope all the doors are open for you and if not, you are systematically sending things crashing down.
And for those who oppose you, you can always say MOW!