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Minnie in the Pandemic


Minnie held her head high, lifted her mouth up facing the sky, and closed her eyes. Then slowly, carefully she sniffed the air for the second time. She felt the air all through the young shining furs of her body; only, she failed to smell anything.

“Did you smell it?” Her mother asked. Minnie did not know how best to reply to make her old mother happy with her answer. “You’re right Mother!” Minnie grinned.

“Silly kitty! How can’t a cat see the ominous red spikes rolling in the air? How can’t she feel the foul odour?”

“Did you say foul? Ominous?” Minnie stopped grinning and feigned an anxious and concerned look.

“Minnie, my darling, cats without instincts can’t survive long!”

Mother closed her eyes, deeply breathing in and out. Several moments passed and several emotions flickered on Mother’s face. No, Minnie had not lost her animal senses yet. She heard anxiety each time her mother exhaled through her nostrils. Minnie knew her mother had been a very spirited cat in her old days. But today she looked older than her age, very worried and even more fragile than in the past. Her black and white furs looked pale. When Mother finally opened her eyes, she looked calm and collected. “I’m going to our old palace.” Mother declared.

And so she went.

Mother’s old palace was situated six blocks away in the north. There was an old broken building which had been a magnificent palace some centuries ago. Minnie had visited the palace twice or thrice with her mother. But she never liked the place because it was dark and dull. Then there were those young men secretly lurking in and around the building always taunting poor little puppies and a kitten like her. They threw stones and small bricks at them and cheered when they hit the target. Minnie was scared of the palace.

Minnie did not understand what had become of her mother or the air lately. She must have lost her senses, eyesight, instincts and strength. Suddenly, she felt a void in her heart and head.

Minnie did not understand what became of her friends, Lucy and Lily, or why they were avoiding her. Were they jealous because Tom had preferred her to them? Then Tom suddenly lost interest in meeting or touching her. First her mother, then her friends, now Tom. Why had she suddenly become an untouchable?

“No, you haven’t”, Tom said.

“Then why is everyone avoiding me?”

“It’s not about you or me honey. It’s about everyone.” Suddenly, Tom was speaking in her mother’s tone. “It’s some virus lurking. You can become infected if you come near or make physical contact with one already infected.”

“Phew! Viruses are always swirling in the air!”

“No, it’s a graver situation this time. And you don’t have a cure!” Tom’s face tightened.

“As if we had ever received treatment when we felt sick. It’s just those guys living in human houses that have such luxury. We live on our own and are cured by nature.”

“What about people leaving their leftovers in the bin for us?

“I never eat from those filthy bins. It’s food only for hungry crows.” Minnie pointed with her eyes at the crows sitting on a nearby kodom tree and crowing incessantly. “I’d rather live on rats.”

“Well, what about when you walk around street shops or rub against the legs of a human and plead to have their food? Now if these people are infected and die, what will happen to our food supply?”

“Are they all going to die?”

“How can I say? But they are locking down everything. Many have left the city already. Wait for the day when you won’t find enough to eat anywhere, let alone the bins!”

Minnie couldn’t believe Tom’s last words. She couldn’t believe it when streets began emptying day by day. So did the bins. The only phenomenon around now was fear.

Fear of contact. Of touch. Of sharing.

Tom had left the place after two or three days following their last conversation. She did not know where he had gone. Perhaps to a safer place, of plentiful food and no disease!

Days became harder to pass for Minnie. She could not leave the place. She had been living here since birth. The place was cosy and full of rats.

But one day even the rats disappeared. Either they had left the place or had been eaten up by her starving neighbours.

Days became impossible to pass for Minnie. Moreover, she was pregnant.

On lazy afternoons, when she felt emptiness in the bin, the air, the sky, and her belly, she felt anguished because Tom had left her with the child but without any food. This was her first pregnancy! It was so scary. The times were scary. An empty stomach was scary. She woke up every morning feeling hungry, every days and every night hungry. Now Minnie did not have to close her eyes or hold her head high or lift her face up to the sky. The air was filled with fear rolling, slithering or whirling invisibly around, devouring anything and everything on its way.

Fear of contact. Of touch, infection and death!

Minnie had to go to her mother’s old palace. She had to have food and a refuge.

But look at her poor old little mother. She looked as shabby as the old broken palace itself. Her eyes were dry and vacant. The dirty muddy hairs on her little body was anything but furry. An enormous feeling of guilt enveloped Minnie’s heart, blurred her eyes and choked her throat. Why had she not come earlier to see her? She greeted her mother through tears. Without complaining or shedding tears, Mother only closed her eyes. Several moments passed, but Minnie could not see any emotions passing on her poor mother’s tiny face. Someone must have lost their senses today – her mother or herself.

Minnie spent the days looking for leftovers in the streets and the bins. But suddenly the humans, who wasted tons of food, had become ultra-cautious. Had they also run out of food? Were they starving too?

One day she returned from her search for food to find her mother lying on the ground and moaning. The poor old thing must have died in the evening.

A few hours later Minnie gave birth. But no one came to see her dead mother or her new born

baby. Her mother was died because of the virus. The body had to be removed at once, Minnie

heard some invisible voices. Must be her mother’s neighbours whispering in distant corners.


Pushing and dragging her dead mother with her mouth and head, clenching one of her leg

between her teeth, Minnie took it far from the palace to a deserted grassless graveyard and

buried it in a lonely corner all by herself. She then hurried back to the palace where she had

left her baby all by itself.

All the while, half of her mind was sick worrying that she would not see her baby again.

What if it was devoured by a rat bigger than the child.? After all, it could be taunted to death

by any human. Minnie’s heart was pounding loudly, as if it would smash the whole palace to

the ground.

But Minnie was relieved to see her baby where she had left it. She licked its mouth with all

her strength at which the baby began to move a little, exhaling and, half-opening its right eye.

It then went back to sleep. Minnie continued to cleanse her baby with her saliva and tears.

Shunned and abandoned, Minnie left the palace the next morning, holding her newborn between her teeth. Where would they go? She looked around the deserted streets. She was startled as a van stopped by her. Would they beat her or take away her baby? She had heard that humans often abducted stray kittens. She ran fast, clenching the child tightly between her teeth and hiding it under a broken tin left by a street vendor. She cautiously peeped through her shelter and eyed the van. Two humans got down the van. They were all covered in some strange blue plastic attire she had never seen before. Recently she had only seen human faces – of men and women – half covered with niqabs. Supposedly “masks”. But what did the plastic attire mean? The two men went to the back of the van and took out a long white object. They entered with the object through an unguarded gate. A few minutes later they came out without the white thing and jumped back into the van and left. Minnie was scared to death for no reason because the men had not even noticed her.


Minnie resumed her journey. But where could she go? She examined the streets for a bin. But she did not fancy fish or meat. If she could only get something edible and filling.


She found a bin! Some crows were hovering over the bin. Very quickly they snatched away some food from the bin before big Hulo hissed at them and bit their legs. Minnie ran to the bin, but was stopped by Hulo before she could touch the bin. Hulo growled. Frustrated and desperate, Minnie looked up at Hulo and prayed silently for a small share of the food.

Hulo stopped growling. He began to eye Minnie carefully. No, he was not looking at Minnie or listening to her. He was eying the baby in Minnie’s mouth. Minnie knew she had to run at once, but both her legs felt paralysed and too heavy.

Silence echoed in the deserted air. The crows had stopped crowing and were hurriedly eating up their meals as Minnie and Hulo kept eyeing each other.

Very slowly, Hulo left the bin. Even more slowly, he moved towards Minnie. His eyes were shining and they scared Minnie to death. Some voice in her brain told Minnie, “Run!” Minnie was on her feet in a second and so was Hulo. Once when Minnie used to play hide and seek and chase with her mother, Lucy, Lily and Tom, when the world was full of cats, rats, dogs, birds, humans, bins and food, she had always felt joyous. But today’s chase only frightened her. If only she had the wings of those crows, she could have flown away in a second!

Minnie ran fast through a lane and a few gates and finally spotted a small bush. Quickly, she hid both herself and the baby there. The baby gave a sharp cry. It was hurt. Minnie placed it on her breast to hush it. She was breathing fast. Her whole body shook. Her lower abdomen hurt as if scissors were piercing through her belly and shedding blood along the way. Tears fell on the baby’s body but the poor little thing was already fast asleep and did not feel anything.

Minnie looked around, but could not see properly. She did not know if her eyes were blurred with tears, hunger or postpartum pains.

Date: December 24, 2021

LitWrite Bangladesh is a blind peer-reviewed online biannual journal published by AstuteHorse

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