A CAT & MOUSE STORY

There were two great friends—the Cat and the Mouse. They lived next door to each other and used to play together every day. One day, they were walking down a corridor in the Cat’s house, talking of many things. Just as they were walking and talking, all of a sudden, the Cat leaped up into the air, his fur all bristling. The Mouse was beside herself with wonder and surprise because there wasn’t anything in the corridor that could have possibly caused this unexpected reaction in the Cat. But just as suddenly, the Cat landed on his four paws and resumed his walk and talk where he had broken off. This unwarranted coolness of manner disturbed the Mouse’s curiosity and she asked: What happened? Did you prick your foot or something? The Cat turned to the Mouse: What do you mean? Nothing happened. Why do you ask? The Mouse was bewildered: But then… why did you jump just now as if you had stepped on hot coals? The Cat looked amused: Wha-? You are imagining things, Mouse. I was walking all this while with you. I didn’t jump, never. With a smirk, the Cat continued. The Mouse thought best to keep quiet; the Cat looked like he was pulling her leg. Jump or not, it was best forgotten.

They walked further on (for the corridor was quite long and never-ending) and they reached a bend in the wall. The Cat was speaking about how things have no real existence and the “insubstantiality” of substances (by which he meant nearly everything). The Mouse was a little in awe of the Cat’s intellect and besides, leaving him to his fanciful ideas of the world was the best thing to do, rather than trying to get specific answers to specific questions out of him. The Cat kept right on, engrossed in his talk as Cats usually are, when, out of a mystic, intuitive feeling that crossed his brain, he turned to his side and realized that the Mouse was not with him. He turned around to look down the corridor. But the Mouse wasn’t there. The Cat sprinted forward to look down the bend, but there was no sign of the Mouse, the four white sides of the corridor lay stretched out deep and distant meeting a point of darkness. The Cat waited there a long time, hoping that the Mouse would leap out from somewhere saying Fooled Ya, like she earlier tried to fool him with the fancy that he had leaped in the air just like that. The Cat waited therefore, waited for a long time that he fell asleep on his paw. In his sleep he saw a dream. In the dream, the Mouse was running all over the corridor in search of him. But he was all the while with her. The Cat woke up out of his frightful dream and imagined that the Mouse was with him though he couldn’t see her. He heard her speaking, but the voice was his. He shivered in his loneliness. The Mouse kept walking close by his side talking incessantly about how substance is nothing but faith, but which is faith materialized, and of the ways to destroy substance in order to free faith. The Cat understood precious little but listened rapturously to the voice beside him, which sounded like his.

Then the corridor wobbled and it slipped away slowly from under the cat’s paws. And he woke up with a jerk as the boy pulling the rug from beneath the cat, extended a hand to tickle its chin. The cat got up, shook itself and walked away disgruntled.

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