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Cat’s Schrodinger – Pravin Vemuri

Nov 12, 2021 | Fiction | 0 comments

I’m a cat. I’m not a cat. Am an un-cat. Am a cat and then some.

Ever since I was let out of the box, this is what I’ve been. I can vanish. Then come back. At random. But also, at will.

Meanwhile, the man who put me in the box was always there. Hanging about the house. Moping about the house. No changes of state. No shifts of shape. Just there. I called him Schrö. Rather, I used to call him Schrö because it sounded almost like ‘scrotal’! If you looked at him proper (even now, if you look at his pictures), the way his head is shaped, you’ll see it too.

But I soon bored of that name. And began calling him Dinger. Dinger! Yes, brings to mind that other part of human plumbing, doesn’t it? Now combine the two and you get Mr. Cock and Balls! Amusing, huh? But also, quite the mouthful. Even for a cat like me. Or not a cat (whatever!). So, to make it easy on all of us, I christened him Dick, as in, “Hey Dick, when’s breakfast?” or “Dick, my poop’s not going to clean itself, is it?” or “WAKE UP, SICK DICK!”

Too harsh? Hey, the man only locked me up in a box with a piece of radioactive material and a flask of poison for two whole days! To ‘see’ if I could make it out alive. Or dead. Or both! (What’s with mankind and putting a living thing together with whatever radiates beta waves, huh? When has that ever resulted in ‘one dead creature’?)

Anyway…what doesn’t kill you, right?

When I walked out of the box, Dick nearly squealed. In delight, I thought. But then I took a step and blinked and poof, I was gone. I’d to lick Dick’s ear (barf!) to bring him back. Never touching a human that way again! Over my dead body, like they say. Or not so dead body. Sigh.

Over the next few days, Dick would faint many times. The first time I said, “Hands off Schrö,” for example. Or when I’d land on his thigh as he sat reading and, poof, vanish. Or that one time when I ROARED, and his glasses broke. This ability – what else can I call it – I didn’t even know I had in me until that point! Also, to be fair, those glasses had gone to shit.

For three days after I walked out of the box, Dick followed me everywhere. Took copious notes. Fainted often, but over time, got better at it. “There’s so much I don’t know,” he’d say. “So much to figure out!”

Now, most people probably know this but it’s worth repeating: Dick couldn’t even pass gas until he got his blessings from Albert. Yes, Albert. The very same. How that man could allow Dick to put me in a box…well…

Anyway, Dick wrote to Albert. Read it out to me before he sent it. Out of courtesy, he said. The gist, more or less: “My cat vanishes. All the time! I don’t know how. It may have to do with the radiation (not sure!). Need some theory! Don’t know where to start. Or what to do. Help!”

Sad!

Dick had to go a far way to post the letter. Took him most of the day. He came bearing alcohol. Two bottles of gin. Kept them on the shelf and waited. And waited. Read the papers. Did the crosswords. A week went by. Two weeks went by. Dick began to mope. I began to play the piano. No thumbs, but four paws are plenty good. I played Chopin, mostly. Bach, occasionally. I played whenever Dick looked hopeful. Or at peace. Fugues. Dirges. Funeral stuff. Music to crush the soul crushing, crafted to snuff out what may even threaten to flower.

Sunday, it arrived. Dick ran down to fetch it. He ran down much faster than he came up, if you know what I mean.

“What the long face?” This was funny at the moment because the thing was shaped like a testicle, remember?

He handed the thing to me. It was a wedding invite. There was a picture included. Tall, pretty lady – flat in the chest but good, high cheekbones – alongside a man wearing glasses. Much like Dick. But better looking. Far better.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“Hilde.”

“And this?”

“Neils Bohr.”

“Who’s he?”

Dick sighed.

“Did you at least get to bang her?” I asked.

Dick began to weep…

He sulked for the rest of the day. Stared at the walls. Looked out of the windows. I played some jazz. Blues mostly.

Evening came. I was bored to bits.

“Come on, man,” I said, “Not a over a girl! Come, be a sweetheart and make us a drink, will you?”

Dick got up but instead of going into the kitchen (where he mixed drinks), he went to his room and locked himself in.

“Come on, you sad sack of shit,” I meowed at the door. Nothing.

I had the gin by myself.

Next morning, Dick was still inside. Afternoon, ditto. Evening I put out a bowl of boiled beets outside his door. And a litter box.

Two days of this and I had had enough. I scratched his door.

“DICK,” I said, “Stop this! Think like a scientist. You’re one, for God’s sake.”

Truth be told, I didn’t (and don’t) believe in God. I guess, Dick didn’t either.

“Dick, if you don’t come out, am going to find Hilde and bang her myself! I will do her doggy style!”

Nothing…

I went back to Chopin. Then Schubert. I had some gin. I played hide and seek with myself , that is, I stood in front of the mirror, blinked, and then walked closer or farther to the mirror and would appear again. Boring, I know but the gin helped.

Next morning, at the end of my tether, I went into his study and found, right there on his desk, a box of unsent letters. A tall stack of them. All written for Hilde. Some pleading. Some begging. All of them terrible. No living woman should be allowed to read what Dick had written.

So, I took them to street.

And burnt them.

I came up and bored out of my mind, began to trash the place (nothing crazy, just ripping-up-cushions and such) until I came across a sheaf of papers, titled simply as ‘The Final Problem.’ Thirty something pages of theories and math with no ending in sight. Dick was stuck. Sorry, I should have said: Dick was blocked. He’d, as always, sought help. Stapled to the last page was a note from Albert. Some ideas for Dick to try out. I took the papers to the living room. Laid them out on the floor. Poured out some gin. And got to work.

Two things came to me as I typed (again four paws suffice): Albert was clearly a genius. Dick, well, Dick lived up to his name.

I slipped the paper under his door. And went back to playing hide and seek.

Took him an hour to burst out.

“OH MY GOD!”

“Whatever you do, Dick, don’t come near me!”

“How!” he was holding the papers up. “How?

“Nietzsche,” I said as I walked up the door, “Read some Nietzsche!”

“This!” Dick began screaming, “This can win the Nobel Prize!”

I don’t know if he heard me laugh – the man was making such a racket – but that was the last I saw him, so I don’t really know. Plus, I had miles to go, promises to keep, etc. The irony though is that he did win the Nobel. He won Hilde back. And thanked a cat in his speech.

The joke, I guess, is entirely on me.

Pravin Vemuri is a technology marketer based in Bangalore. He has been previously published in Out of Print, Kaani and Spark Magazine.

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