MY advice is not to read this immediately after you have finished the previous cat book, because while this is also a book about a cat, it is startling in its presumptions and occasionally disconcerting in its use of language to describe sex between cats, and just under the female cat veneer can be discerned the persona of a young man who gave up a career in sales to pursue writing.
The Kitty Buddha is his first book and hopefully there will be many others, because the basic premise is definitely interesting. Here is a cat. “pampered and privileged” and also named Kitty. She meets Tommy, a macho – well – tom - with whom she has sex and by whom she is dumped, a procedure considered completely normal in the cat world which is really not big on fidelity.
But Kitty is different and goes on a tour of Mumbai, encountering one character after another. She is looking for Tommy and finds life instead, lovers on beaches, contract killers, drug peddlers, koli women, security guards and the like. In other words, people who are pretty much a cliché for Mumbai, city of Bollywood, mafia of various kinds and of course, some with hearts of gold.
Kitty is also given to quoting people – Martin Luther King, using the language of the street to describe her experiences and talking out loud like any young, urbanised human who has had too many unsavoury experiences. The spiritual development bit is a metaphor for her own enlightenment, at the end of which she proclaims herself the Buddha, having left her life of comfort to travel the world, looking for something. But it’s just a “stud cat” she is looking for and instead received “enlightenment” and that is the part one tends to find disconcerting. Plus there are too many rhetorical questions Was I really enlightened? Could it be mere hallucination?
Apparently not, because as Kitty is talking to a big black bird, thinking, “I’m going to teach you a thing or two, ‘enlightenment strikes’. And that’s when it hit me. That was the purpose of my life, my purr’spective, whatever you might call it. To teach others the true meaning of life! All about the lovely seventh sense. About letting go! That’s what the Buddha had done, hadn’t he?... Could I be missing something...?”
We could ask the same question.
The Kitty Buddha
By Rohit Trilokekar
Published by Palimpsest, 197 pages