By Yoginder Sikand
Dear old Aunt Morlini lived by herself in a lovely little cottage on top of a hill. She wouldn’t have traded living all alone for anything in the world. But, as she grew older, she began to feel a little lonely.
‘This won’t certainly do, my dear,’ said her friend Rebecca, who dropped in for tea one afternoon and noted how sad Aunt Morlini seemed. ‘You need a pet to keep you company. You’ve so much love to share, and you could do with some of it yourself! There’s nothing as good for all that as a pet.’
Next morning, Aunt Morlini awoke to a loud chorus of yelps and meows. She opened her front door and, to her utter amazement, she found, all neatly wrapped under a blanket in a little cane basket, a beautiful white kitten and a spotted brown puppy smiling up at her”a gift from Rebecca!
Aunty Morlini’s tender heart melted at the sight of the two lovely things, and she took them in. And that is how Toddles the cat and Terry the dog came into Aunty Morlini’s otherwise rather quiet life.
Toodles, Terry and Aunty Morlini were an inseparable trio. You might have thought that Toodles and Terry would have constantly been at each other”for that is how cats and dogs generally are”but if you saw those two you wouldn’t believe what wonderful friends they were! They liked nothing more than playing ball with each other in the sun, and when it was lunch-time they insisted on eating together from the very same bowl. At night they would curl up together on Aunty Morlini’s fluffy pillow to keep themselves warm.
Soon, news about Toodles and Terry reached the dogs and cats of the town nestled at the foot of the hill below Aunty Morlini’s cottage. You won’t imagine what a great stir this caused, for no one had ever before heard of a cat and a dog being friends. The agitated dogs of the town called a convention of the Grand Grolwers’ Association to condemn the two. The furious cats hurriedly followed by taking out a mammoth rally of the Pussies’ Welfare Club.
At the dog convention, which was held in the town hall, fiery speeches were delivered denouncing Terry for his ways. A resolution, signed with their ink-stained paws by over a hundred dogs, declared that Terry had been expelled from the dog community. ‘If you love pussies, there’s simply no way you can be a dog!’ the President of the Grand Growlers Association thundered. ‘Terry has violated the law of our revered ancestors,’ the head-priest of the dogs, a ferocious-looking bearded bloodhound, declared. ‘The curse of our doggy-gods be upon him!’ And, lo and behold! The dogs turned their heads towards the heavens and thought that they had just heard a great thundering howl come tumbling straight from high above. ‘Down with Terry! Down with Terry!’ they angrily barked in chorus as the head-priest roused them into an uncontrollable fury.
It was hardly different at the grand cat rally, the biggest that the town had ever seen. Every single cat that the town boasted of was out in the streets that day, waving placards and shouting angry slogans denouncing poor Toodles as a traitor. ‘No honorable cat would ever cuddle up with a dog!’ they chanted. ‘Shame on Toodles!’ they screamed. The head-priestess of the cats, a fat pink Persian cat with a pair of angry green eyes and a scowl stuck on her face, clambered atop a podium and lifted her paws to the skies. ‘May the cat-goddess drag Toddles off to hell, where she can rot for all time to come!’, she cursed. And, all at once, the cats all turned their heads upwards and imagined that they had just heard a monstrous screech come crashing down from heaven, as if the pussy-goddess had answered the petition of the priestess.
And do you know what happened next? The deafening shrieks from the cat-rally attracted the attention of the dogs in the town hall. They thought that the cats had ganged up together to wage war on them. And so, like an army heading for battle, they all rushed out of the hall and into the streets, where they set upon the cats, who were taken all by surprise.
You should have heard them fighting”really ‘like cats and dogs’, as the saying goes. How they hissed and spat, shrieked and scratched! How they growled, barked and bit! Oh, it was a terrible sight indeed, the like of which the town had never witnessed before.
The awful din that they raised soon reached Aunty Morlini, up on the hill, waking her up with a fright from her afternoon siesta. And you know what she did? She promptly rang up the police to complain! In a short while, two big vans arrived in the town, along with a police-jeep. The men in the vans took out menacing looking sticks, with which they drove the dogs and cats into their vehicles, and then sped off, goodness knows where. And so, if you visit the town now you won’t find a single dog or cat, except, of course, for Terry and Toodles, who are still the very best of friends, as dear old Aunty Morlini will tell you!