The Tiny Cat That Could

Once upon a time, an unusually tiny kitten walked into a yard. My yard.

Few of you are aware of the flag-bearing, card-carrying toxic relationship I have with my father. I’m so quiet about it, it’s hard to spot (cue eye roll). If I ever need a reason to give up humanity altogether, I can just look back to anything he’s done for affirmation. There are few things the man does that even surprise me anymore. But, as it turns out, he’s still got it. and by it, I mean the cruel, vicious, merciless, sadistic streak that is the most of his entire personality – at home, of course.

Four years ago, on a very rainy night, my father had to catch a flight to the airport, and the driver had to take the car out of the driveway. The itinerary was being discussed when suddenly, the tiniest imaginable of kittens stuck his head into our yard from under the looming black gate. The head and huge bat ears were followed by a skinny body and impossibly small paws. This furball essentially let himself into our courtyard, waltzed up to where four full grown humans and two adult cats were sitting, parked his butt in the middle, and MEOWED. Insistently at that, at the people staring incredulously at him, because we had two litters at home at the moment, but this wasn’t one of ours.

He was so covered in dirt that you couldn’t make out an actual color. He tried sitting with the adult cats, and they hissed at him and scooted up the stairs closer to us. The kitten was not the slightest bit affected by the snub and kept meowing at us, unfazed by the fact that he was in a strange place, standing between complete strangers. And he was hungry. Loudly.

We gave him a little wet food, and after he’d eaten, let himself onto the sofa, and gone immediately to sleep, decided that he must have been abandoned by some disappointed owner, or over-enthusiastic adopter. It wasn’t unusual for people to abandon animals in our yard. And we had nine cats at this point, what was one more mouth to feed. Especially such a tiny, tiny one at that. And so, Tiny became a member of the family.

The next few days went by with a series of discoveries. Tiny was a girl, apparently, and grey, white, and golden tabby under all the dirt. Which she didn’t allow us to wash off before a lot of coaxing. She had an attitude on her, walking up to all the other grown cats and batting them and hissing at them from the first day. If you sprayed her with water, she’d get down from the table, but scratch you before she walked away, because how dare you. My father’s smacks with the newspaper or his shoes were also returned in kind, sometimes immediately, sometimes hours later. Tiny could hold a grudge like no cat we’d known.

She also had epilepsy. She was maybe two months old when the seizures started. And then she stopped gaining weight, like the other kittens.

We didn’t know just quite what to make of her. I took her to the vet, naturally, and the vet advised a lot of tests, none of which the shabby, covered in animal piss government hospital had to offer. A private vet clinic was out of the question- even I wasn’t permitted to visit a doctor officially, and I literally worked as one. The vet suggested that we take care of her general health and hope for the best, but not hope too much from her either. So we did. We took care of her, we hoped, and we watched her grow.

Tiny grew from a stunted, ratty little tabby to a skinny, bony faced adult with twice the temper and half the situational awareness her kitten self had – but she grew. She survived whatever spectrum of neurological deficits she had, because she had a few. She was always falling into open barrels, down holes, getting lost in tunnels around the house, jumping onto the road or under moving cars, hyperactive to a point of mania, and then exhausted – and then running again. It was a joke, that the cat was practically suicidal – except she never made the same mistake twice. Her intelligence and unpredictability led her to actually get some grudging respect from my father, who found the fact that she tried to hit back surprisingly entertaining. We didn’t give a shit about why he liked her as long as he did, because she was outgrowing her seizures, and we were scared that he’d toss her out before she fully did.

Tiny Cat got older, and got pregnant. Her first pregnancy was completely confusing to her, but she managed it through, with us. The days leading up to her delivery, we showed her how to nest in a box, helped her get used to lying there. She kept trying to walk off even during her delivery, and was utterly baffled by the fact that a kitten had already come out, and more were there. At some point some instinct kicked in, but our next few nights were spent sleepless, taking shifts with the mewling furballs and there pretty frazzled mother. Luckily, luckily, the kittens pulled through. I saw them before I left home.

I heard stories of their misadventures, of these kittens that basically thought that my mother was their actual mother. It was ludicrous and hilarious. Tiny never taught her kittens how to cover up after they’d done their business, so they’d leave little smelly piles in the sand. At some point the other cats got so exasperated. they started covering up after them. And then they gave up and started just teaching the kittens how to cat themselves. They were actually learning pretty quick, and even started babysitting the other kittens, as they grew older. At least they did, till when we left home, My father took advantage of our absence, and had the kittens abandoned far away from home.

The thing is, with the decreasing number of helpless humans to torture over the last few months, my father has been turning to the cats. At first, he had the older kittens abandoned at our construction site, from where they naturally ran away scared. Then, the ‘training’ of the cats stuck at home began.

First, the cats were being trained to remain in one yard and not step into the other. A normal person would argue that cats can’t be trained that way. But when a cat is trapped in one place, the doors shut on it, and then hosed down with a power hose till she’s fleeing, digging her claws into cement to somehow scale the wall vertically to flee with slamming water, yes- according to my father, now that’s how cats are trained.

It doesn’t matter if one of them falls off the wall into the street and breaks her hind leg, because of this. It doesn’t matter if this cat walks three-legged, dragging her twisted leg and mangled hip behind her. She’s been trained now, and if she tries to come into the yard from the other side, where she doesn’t have to climb, she gets hosed again. And again. And again. Till she goes feral and stops coming, because the household help has more mercy in their hearts than my father, and they started feeding her outside on the sly.

And then the other cats are taught lessons. Till even the cook, the meekest, most soft-spoken woman I know, couldn’t bear to watch anymore and stoutly protested that at least the cats be allowed to run through one door when the hosing begins. Obviously, her opinion doesn’t mean shit. When my father gets his manic attacks, even the help working in the yard got hosed. Why the heck would he care? They’re his servants, after all. It’s not like they’re real people or something.

Just like the cats aren’t actual livings beings. Or anything more than a temporary fixation for his cruelty. I’m not at home, he can’t make sure I’m waking up at 4 am anymore, or make me do sit ups at his whim, or monitor my food, or lash out as and when he wants at me. He tried with the watchman, but after two days of being forced to get up at 4 am, the watchman bluntly made it clear that he was going to quit under these conditions. The other household help scurry and tiptoe around his always-impending rage and righteousness, which is exactly the way he likes it. Besides, it’s Corona times. If they quit, he isn’t going to find anyone else to do the housework for him. They’re staying on out of desperation too, because it’s unlikely that they find another job with the way things are. He knows that, and he stops pushing them just before their breaking point. With the cats, he doesn’t need to stop.

The last puppy he brought home died about a month after I left. There’s another dog now, but she’s being taken care of, because even he’s starting to get a reputation among his friends who supply the dogs. And then there’s Tiny. Tiny Cat who got pregnant again, and isn’t allowed to stay at home this time. Who wasn’t even allowed to be in the yard- but she didn’t know that. She spent the last few weeks trying repeatedly to come home, and got slammed and hosed down with punishingly hard water jets each time she tried. She snuck in at night, and ate and slept in the other yard. She didn’t understand why she was suddenly cast out, and scratched at the doors and windows, asking my crying mother to let her in. The cook hid her under her arm and smuggled her out each time she could, before my dad could notice that she’d come in again. My mom stopped walking in the yard at all, for fear of attracting the cats, who’d flock to her if they saw her at all. My father would come running in, bolt the doors, and hose them down till they were scrambling around desperately in the mud. Till he was satisfied that they’d had enough of a lesson for today. But that stopped being enough, too.

My father decided last week that Tiny had to go. It didn’t matter that she was due any day. It didn’t matter that she was spending more time wet than dry. She was surviving his currently favorite method of torture, and persisting- and he doesn’t like that. Bear in mind that this is a man who used to trap rats to kill and pour boiling water over them, till my mother gave him proof that was Islamically forbidden. And nothing is more important than a pretense of holiness. But that pretense is still wafer thin. A heavily pregnant cat who had started digging holes in the dirt… wasn’t in any place to fight what was behind that. But help came from the unlikeliest place.

Our watchman caved and decided to take her away. He took her to that construction site, where he knows the family of caretakers, where he knew she’d be safe. It broke him, having to coax her away and leave her there, but she found a hidey hole right away. He went to visit her twice, and she seemed settled in. They leave food out for the cats, and there’s enough space for her to roam. My father was delighted to see her gone. Everyone else is relieved for different reasons.

I’m sitting here wondering who’ll be next, and what will happen when he runs out of animals. I keep thinking of her earnest little face and stubborn, stubborn refusal to give up, and am trying to reassure myself that this truly is the best that could have happened for her. But Survivor’s guilt is a potent beast. And I can’t help but feel, at least a little bit, that in choosing what’s best for me and leaving, I failed my Tiny cat, at least a little.


I want to open my mouth

and have only rainbows pour out

with that same breathless quality

with which nightmares tear the ground

Flowing from my ears at night

Wild-maned terrors, champing to bite,

Iron shod hooves tossing restlessly

while my own twisted feet make no sound

except their untangling, in bedsheets strangling

slowly, insidiously, ‘round my neck snaking

Fingers cold as death on my own shaking

straining for the nearest light, to put down

the shutters, the shudders of whatever horrors

metallic-tasting dreams and bruised lip murmurs

rustling threateningly, behind creaking floodgates

Cracked fingernails leaking ink, insistently loud

But because I will,

I open my mouth

and have only rainbows pour out




Floodgates | Yusra



What are you not telling anyone? .



I feel as though I am frequently guilty of this. Of simply rolling over and falling asleep, and ignoring some nagging unwellness that has been pestering me. But it scratches at you, making you increasingly restless, till it starts spilling over into the part of your life that you only ‘portray’. When the person you are is unwell, it’s only a matter or time before it starts leaking into the person you’re supposed to be.

For the sake of metaphor and stunted humor, let me say: we’re nothing more than giant bathtubs. If you don’t deal with how much is swirling in there, pretty soon it’ll be sweeping out from under the door and reaching the guests in the living room.

But it’s not about the guests at all. People who visit you don’t live with you- you live with you. We none of us take the time to recognize our existence as a little, self-contained biome that needs a little tending to flourish- and a little pruning. If the diseased parts and chipping fingernails don’t get trimmed regularly, you’re not going to be growing.

And that’s already too many house- and body part analogies, but I’m going to leave you (and myself) with one last one: this body and mind house each other. And in levels of intensity, each one of them needs your care.

Open those floodgates now and then, okay? I promise you, there will be a rainbow over all that you’ve bottled in, flowing out. ♥️






If you truly love something, set it free. You’ll love it more, even if you find, you now love it differently.

I should be angry. Maybe. I know that I’m unhappy with how quickly you moved on. With how a few months of a different routine and a different city was enough for you to find a different woman. I’m unhappy about that, too. Maybe I could have forgiven you falling in love easier, had there been any cause whatsoever for me to forgive you. My vanity is bruised by it- I thought I’d loved you more, loved you enough for all those years to have damaged you more- but I didn’t. Or, to be precise, you didn’t. You didn’t love me enough to be damaged by a lack of me there. And a new routine and new city was enough for you to be ready, for a new woman. And not even for new love. Just a new bedmate.

So I’m angry at that. Or maybe anger is too strong a word for this vague displeasure. This bruised ego that would have been soothed by finding out that you were struggling a little too. This part of me that is insulted by how smoothly you moved on, without having felt my absence as acutely as I did yours. I think I wanted you to be a little unhappy. Just enough to afford some passing last respect to the remains of who we were. What we were. It feels too soon. Bringing your new girlfriend to your wife’s funeral, soon. Not the fact that I know of it, though, but the fact that it happened at all.

But that’s the staggering turn on the dime. However fleeting and sharp my hubris stabs, I am not unhappy. I’m happy for you, and for me. I loved you so, so inhumanly much. And seeing you now, away, makes me happier still. Because this is everything I would never have been able to give you. This is everything you were denying yourself, being with me. This is you in your element. And we spent utterly glorious years together. You gave me so much, you made me so much more than I was, and you stood by as I became even more. And you deprived yourself, and the world and circumstances deprived you of so much. And you don’t have it now- but you’re getting there. And more than anything, I am overwhelmingly happy for you, and for whoever else you decide you want on that journey next to you- however passingly.

Am I not jealous? I am. She’s had her hands on you. She’s had you in ways no one except I did. Every inch of our bodies was hallowed ground for the other, pure and saved from the sullying touch of any passing fancy. And now she has her lips where I put mine. She has your hands holding her the way you held me. And when you’re in her, her soul isn’t crying in the delirious ecstasy of a woman being loved in every plane of being. She’s taking all the parts of you that belonged to me, and not treating them with enough reverence.

For me. For you, it’s enough. This is enough. This is what you want. Because you don’t belong to me. And that is why it doesn’t hurt me anymore. Because you belong to yourself now, to revere and desecrate as you please. And I belong to me now. And what did, and what we shared, belongs to both of us. In memory.

My love. My sweetest, dearest friend. I will always feel too much and write too much and cry too much, and be much too strong than I should be. But there is the great distance now that I will never love you too much again. I will always love you, and celebrate you, and revel in our having been. And you are welcome to visit our home, as I often do, in the late hours of the night, in maudlin and in memory. My arms will always hold a home for your heart. But of a different sort now. I love you. And I’m still walking.


It will hurt. 

It will be a burden. 

It will pain your bones to 

carry your thoughts 

-it will lessen 

You will endure 

You will survive 

Bent is not broken 

– It’s okay to have been numb 

But you’re alive 

And you’re fighting 

And you will



Women Like Me 

Women like me,

Make men realize 

That their dreams don’t belong 

Only in their eyes 

That their shoulders are broad enough

For the weight of the world 

And the reduction of all their principle 

Lies in just their word 

That the sky is theirs 

And all this earth 

We make men keenly aware 

Of every inch of their self worth 

We are not statues, but pillars 

We are not decoration

We are not conquest, but glory 

We require dedication 

And we pay you back in blood 

In all of our love 

Women like me are made from your rib

But we hold your spine up. 
And if you can’t appreciate a woman

Who could wither your universe to bits 

If you insist on looking at greatness 

And lingering on the span of its tits 

Then I have already moved past you 

It’s not worth my time, you won’t see 

That I want you on your knees, and 

I’ll nurture you on mine, simultaneously

if you really deserved

A woman like me 


Silent acquiescence? I think not, darling…. ❤️

Ugly With Colors

No, no!

Don’t look at my face!

Here, see what I forgave you for, instead!

Don’t, don’t do that

-don’t look into my eyes 

It’s just something I threw on

Oh, it’s just a good light

Yes, last night was wonderful

You fell asleep on me, but hey-

At least you had fun!

That’s what matters, right?

It’s okay, these things happen

What’s that, you need space?

Oh yes, I’d love to shop for your boss

It’s just a few miles out of my way

Haha, yes, you’re just friendly

I understand perfectly if

you want to gift her lingerie

Sure, I need no guarantees 

I’m not going anywhere 

So kind, I know, so sweet, I know

I put everyone at ease

Because ‘ugly girls have good 


Paper bags for our heads, 

from the groceries 

covering the lease

Ignoring the intent 

Constant appeasement

-Compensation, remuneration

Is what we deal in, instead of 


That’s the only trade we know

So that’s the commerce we expect

-and know of no other. 

You can see black and white

when you’re taught that

You’re ugly in color 

© CM


Ugly With Colors. 
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this ‘ugly girls have good personalities’ thing, but doesn’t make it any less painful. 

Or, as my father puts it, at least you have no reason to waste time in front of a mirror. 
Maybe. Or maybe that’s because that’s not the reflection that matters to me. 



I don’t know how you are so brave
How everything that bruises you leaves so
You smile that secret smile and carry on
As though you weren’t stopped, but you’d paused
And now you were walking on again
Not crippled, just resting one leg
Not sad, not aching
As if you hadn’t built that house of cards so
Then you listen to me
And you laugh
And I forget what I was even angry about
Because you are so brave
So in-defeat-ably
That just the aftertaste of you is strong
enough to
Courage is as much about not mourning
as mourning
Loving that fish,
Respecting a donut
Not wearing underwear on principle
Waking up early on thursdays to shave
And just as much shrugging
making a wrinkly nosed face, and
carrying on, because you are
that brave



The Blood Price Of My Sanity

The Blood Price Of My Sanity

A lot of people who aren’t entire familiar with my situation, ask me why I don’t ‘do’ something about my father. I’m old enough to move out, obviously qualified enough to find a job, any job that could pay some bills at the very least, and clearly unhappy with how my life is being run right now. Why don’t I move out? Why don’t I just call the authorities on him? Why don’t I take a stand, etc.- I wish I could, I really do. That’s not the kind of defeatist statement you often hear from victims who’ve been conditioned to ‘accept’ their suffering. It’s actual, near physical incapability to change how things are right now. And, as you can imagine, the lack of ways out only fuels my frustration, and in turn, my online venting.

I’m the oldest of my siblings. My mother and I initially lived in another country after my parents got married, and moved here to be with my father after his job became a permanent one. Even then my mother had begun to see that there was insanity in this man, but owing to the fact that he worked away for so much time in the early years of their marriage, she never learnt to read him well. She told me later that she was very wary of his mood swings right from the beginning. The only reason she moved to be with him was because she didn’t want to ask for a divorce right away without giving him a chance. She didn’t want me growing up without a father. Initially my father was still away for long periods of time, and she did the traditional Indian housewife bit with his abusive family, sucking it up for my sake. She planned on leaving him though- and then she got pregnant.


Me and my siblings all have different nationalities. This stems from a habit of my dad’s, effectively bullying my mother into traveling when she was expecting, and into having their kids all over the goddamn globe. While it just seems eccentric, the actual ramifications are much more serious- None of us have any rights where we live right now. We all have different passports, and as such, are living here legally dependent on my father. Which just reinforces his authority. We can’t move out, unless it’s to go back to our ‘native’ countries, which we can’t obviously. Those are complete unknowns.

That’s the legal side of things. Well, why don’t I call the cops on him? If there’s a man who’s so openly violent that the entire neighborhood knows when he has his fits, one of us should’ve reported him, right?

We tried. Didn’t work. What ended up happening was that he went berserk and started breaking things and whacking us with chairs and what not, and someone from the apartments across the street called the cops about something happening. When the solitary fellow arrived to check the place out, my mom decided to take a stand and showed him what he’d done to all three of us- the entire living room was upended anyway- and the policeman actually took my dad away.

For all of one hour. We hadn’t even finished recovering from the shock of all this happening (at fourteen, I was the oldest of the kids, the youngest was six, and my mom was pretty battered). We were trying to make sense of what just happened and what the consequences of this step could be, when he walked right back into the house. As it turns out, cops don’t bother keeping influential people wih deep pockets locked p for very long. He kicked us out of the house and locked the gate, and we stood there shivering till one of his friends who lives down the street came down and took us in for the night. Next morning, he went down to talk to my dad, and my dad came and took us all home, and joking and jovial, like nothing happened. It’s not a solitary incident. Similar things have happened, and transparently enough for us to see that there’s no point in expecting anyone to come to our rescue. No one believed us for the longest time. Outside the house, he’s an upstanding citizen, a pillar of the community. Very wealthy, and he spreads the money around generously enough to keep everyone’s mouths shut. The not as financially secure of his friends don’t mind sucking up to him in return for the considerable benefits. The secure ones.. aren’t too bothered anyway. His best friends are actually good people, and both of them tried several times to show him what he’s doing is wrong. In response, he shut them out his life completely. Eventually they realized that the most they can do for us is to smuggle us goodies now and then, or force his hand into planning dinners and what not.

But that’s the most they can do. And I am eternally grateful to them for the fact that they even tried. In a lifetime of knowing sycophants and hypocrites, people who lied barefacedly to win his approval, at least they tried to make us happy.


I could just walk out. Live with a friend, do odd jobs that’ll keep me under the radar- but what will my future be? And fuck my future. What’ll happen to my younger siblings after I take such a drastic step? If he’s bad now, he’ll get worse. If I’m not there, there will be no one to protect my mother and siblings from him. Because she’s an emotional wreck, and they’re just kids. I had my mother around to teach me how to be a person. The only reason me and siblings turned out sane and not like him is because we had our mother to show us what unconquerable will and iron resolve are. And not just weather, to flourish too. She brought us up to excel in our studies, to be creative, to paint and draw and express ourselves in whatever medium we chose. More importantly, she impressed upon us morals and ethics, the vaue of being a God fearing person, of loving unconditionally. I will not hesitate to say that all of us have grown up to be good people. We’re not saints. We do incredibly stupid stuff, we fight, we squabble. I get drunk more often that I should, I’m a bit of a drama queen inside my head, I get emotional about irrational things sometimes, and I’m deeply mistrustful of people unless they prove that I can trust them. My siblings have their vices too. But we love. And we forgive. And we go out of our way to make sure no one is hurting- because we know too well what its like to hurt when no one cares.

I couldn’t leave them behind even it meant a gallop into a glorious sunset for me. Not unless I have a way of taking them with me.


But things are changing. It petrifies my father that we’ve grown up, and we can take a stand and tell him that he’s being illogical, or that he’s not making sense. He can’t use the ‘I’m your father’ declaration anymore. Nor can he misuse religion to enforce wacky rules on us, because we know our religion well enough to tell him when he’s out of line. The fact that we have a spine, a voice, is getting to him like nothing has in a long time. And he can’t do anything about the fact that we’re growing older, can he? When we go out or go places, we run into acquaintances, or friends’ parents, etc. who regale him with stories about how nice we are or well mannered- it bothers him. At parties, even his friends talk to us like equals, or ask our opinion on things, or in my case, ask for medical advice, etc. Ohhh it bothers him so bad that he quite literally changes color on the stop. A few weeks ago at a party a random uncle was giving me a long, loooong update on his UTI, and the entire time my father kept interrupting him, or offering inane bits of advice, which my uncle was ignoring and still addressing me. He literally couldn’t bear me being the center of attention, and actually told my uncle to stop talking to me. Like, ‘how much will you tell her, she has no experience, she knows nothing. Come, I’ll give you a urologist friend’s number’. I haven’t seen him that discomfited so long, it was downright hilarious.


And that’s what bothers me. The fact that I’m reduced to being happy when he’s unhappy, or delighting in his odd misfortune. This streak of petty viciousness is toxic, and while no one else’s suffering could make me happy, I quite honestly want him to die a long and protracted, painful death- I’m afraid of turning into that person. Not everything is working against us. True, I’ve had to pay the blood price of my sanity for having a modicum of peace in this house, but I’m hopeful that it will be worth it. A number of my cousins have advised me to take the easy way out, get married and move out. Nuh uh, never gonna happen. I’m not going to put another man in charge of my happiness. It’s not that I don’t know any good men. I know exceptional men, and I’m in love with an exceptional man too. But he doesn’t want to get married, and I’m fine with that. In any case, I’m pretty sure my father won’t be able to stomach the idea of me getting a happy-ever-after away from his iron fist. He already practically breaks out in hives when people compliment me, or ask about my future plans.


But we’re growing, and life cannot be stopped. Progress cannot be stopped. A will cannot be stopped. Initially when I started writing about my problems, I felt ashamed of seeking solace from strangers. It felt like weakness. But the love and outpouring of comfort and blessings I’ve received over the years, from places I didn’t even know on the map… has been overwhelming. There are people in my world, in my online family, who are like little nimbuses of light scattered all over. I have friends who are fucking brilliant, witty, and amazing people. Fate brought me face to face with my best friends in ways that are right out of fairy tales. Like my soul sister, who added me because she her browser got stuck while she read one of my poems in a random poetry group. That’s literally how we discovered each other. And she’s one of the most precious people in my life now. Another friend who I lost years ago, found one of my anonymous posts on twitter, and thought it sounded suspiciously like me. And that’s how I was reunited from a friend from another lifetime. And it’s not like my real life is loveless. My family, not my father, but my family, loves me fiercely. The man I love has practically taught me what love is, and how it has to begin from loving myself. I am not the person I was before I met him. I don’t think I could have lived being that weak, self hating creature for very long. How to center myself, how to expand my mind, how to let bad things go, how to let bad people go. How to keep walking. More importantly, how to save your smiles inside your head when the world is hell bent on watching you cry. And to cry when you have to- tears are a good thing, too.


I’ve been cursed with a strange life. I’ve also been blessed with an inordinate amount of love.


Sustained, systematic abuse strips away at a person. A soul can be whittled down to bone. I’ve seen it, I’ve sat through it. I’ve watched my mother take more than her fair share for years, and now I suppose I’m doing the same. But I’m going to make damned well sure this cycle breaks before it crosses me. And if that’s at the blood price of my sanity, so be it.



Love and light,
Cookie ❤