Vivek

Mr. V.K. Goswami was quite alone since his orange calico died the previous year. His studio apartment, though small and cluttered, felt vacant without her. He did sometimes think of taking a streetcar to the Toronto Humane Society, but on reflection decided another cat could never replace this particular calico. Smelling like buttered toast, a huge cuddly thing she was but with an extraordinary talent. Should she mewl and curl up beside any of the neighbours, most of whom were ailing, the next day they were certain to be dead. The first time this happened, it was to the yoga instructor across the hall; he was not the youngest of the tenants, but he was certainly the fittest. Coincidence, thought Mr. Goswami, mustn’t succumb to superstition. Then it happened to the old schoolmistress one floor below, then the veteran soldier, and so on. Mr. Goswami felt himself invincible: after all, the cat curled up beside him daily and here he was, still breathing.

None of the other tenants ever knew Mr. Goswami by name; to them he was only the cat’s caregiver. Since the death of the cat, none of them ever bothered making small talk with him.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 6. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“He did sometimes think of taking a streetcar to the Toronto Humane Society, but on reflection decided another cat could never replace this particular calico . . . ” —Toronto Humane Society

“He walked slowly through Allen Gardens, which filled a city block square. The evening was purple and a lace of white clouds fringed the horizon in all directions . . . ” —Allen Gardens