Hi there,

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Today, I have a small story about an incident that is quite close to me (Although I was not really a part of it). It speaks about love, loss and the fragility of life.

15th June 2019, Bengaluru

It was the eve of our engagement and Karthik (now my husband) was all set to leave for his parents’ home that is about thirty kilometres from where he lived. If you are from Bengaluru, you understand why someone would want to live away from their home when their workplace is ‘only’ thirty kilometres away.

He was outside his room, taking one final look at the things to take along when suddenly something caught his eyes. It was a rodent, firmly tucked in the mouth of a street cat, it’s skinny tail peeping out of the cat’s mouth like an overgrown whisker. He coaxed the cat to open its mouth and drop the creature down. After a few tries, it finally gave in with a frown.

It was only when Karthik took a look at the stripes on it’s back that he realised that it was, in fact, a baby squirrel, probably just a week or two old. It still had its eyes closed and its paws were still pink with only the tips brown. There was no fur and the skin on its body was as wrinkled as it could be. But there were no hints of bruises or cuts.

The cat was given a bowl of milk in return. So I think it was a fair deal.

Karthik put it in a shoebox, cushioned with warm pieces of rags. He realised it was too young to feed by itself. But he knew someone who could help. While he waited to reach home, I did the naming ceremony of our new friend via Whatsapp. We named him Coco. My only active contribution to the whole thing.

On reaching home, he took the pup to a cousin’s place who happens to be an avid pet lover. He and his family welcomed Coco with open arms. They had already dealt with infant animals before and knew what had to be done.

Vishal, the cousin and his mother looked after Coco for several weeks, feeding it with milk through an ink filler and then with fresh vegetables and nuts as he grew up. Coco grew up with a bunch of love birds and a cat always lurking around the corner.

By the time our wedding date neared (six months later), Coco had grown up to be a fat and overactive ball of fur. The family loved having him around and took great care of him. We occasionally visited them and when we did, I made sure I was nowhere near it. Did you know how ticklish they can be when they become a ninja and climb all over you within seconds? Squirrels are extremely fast and always on their toes. They are social and almost always curious about humans.

Many a time, the family decided that Coco needed a natural habitat of it’s kind to grow up. With a heavy heart, they tried leaving him in a park or in the city outskirts where there was an abundance of trees. But he always followed them back. Having never lived on a tree with others of his kind, he strongly believed that he belonged to his human family even if it meant he was fifty times smaller. He was their very own version of Stuart Little.

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Coco after a few weeks of being found 🙂

Like all good things, this too came to an end. Two weeks back, we heard from the family that Coco was no more. The cat had finally got its way. Coco was last seen tucked in the mouth of the cat, it’s bushy tail peeping out from the side. Just like how he was found.

The family, especially the mother was devastated at the loss. But life always finds a way to compensate for your loss. Yesterday we heard from the cousin again that another squirrel had left three pups in a nest and had not returned for several days. They assumed the mother, like Coco, might have become prey on her way back to her pups.

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The three new Cocos

Photo credits: Koushik Prabhu (Vishal’s partner in crime)

The family now has three little Cocos to look after and this time thrice the fun!

Do you have any ‘pet’ stories to share?  Tell me in the comments below.

 

Love,

Ashwini Shenoy,

Author of Shikhandini

Featured Image: Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina from Pexels

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