TOOTH & CLAW

She opened her bleary eyes when the cat, all seven pounds of squirming flesh, climbed onto her belly. Squinting into the sunlight streaming in from the open window, she discovered that she was now the weary possessor of a pounding headache, and at some point, had managed to lose both a tooth and a spouse.
She was in a dilemma whether to mourn for her fallen tooth or to rejoice getting rid of that sick man. But after all he was her lawful husband and the tooth was really giving her trouble for last few weeks. She remembered all that happened last night and still she was bewildered to react. But she felt that she should do something to get out of this creepy spell. She decided to get up first as she was lying on the floor. But to get up she needed to thrash the lousy cat off her belly. But she could not be that harsh to the poor creature rather she patted on the head of the bulky tomcat requesting him to move away from her tummy by gestures and for the first time he honoured her wish. After getting up she started looking for the beautiful new born kitten. Oh there she was sleeping on the bed cuddled like a snow ball. How sweet! The name sounded fascinating to her so the kitten was christened Miss. Snow Ball. She took Snow Ball in her arms and affectionately kissed on her forehead. The poor baby opened her mouth in anticipation of being fed. Mrs. Gonsalvez realized how hungry snow ball was and arranged to feed her with a feeding bottle. She was not new to fostering of kittens. She had a collection of almost two scores of cats in her house. Perhaps it’s only cats and cats were all she had to keep her death away. Mrs. Gonsalvez smiled on herself for cannibalizing words of Elvis Presley. Soon her pleasure turned into anxiety when yesterday’s incident invaded her thoughts again. She must share everything that happened yesterday with trusted someone. For the sake of relieving herself she thought of calling her dentist to register the obituary of her lost tooth.
She looked for the desired number from her customised directory and called her dentist. But she was a bit surprised to hear a female voice from the other end. But Mrs. Gonsalvez continued.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – Hello! May I speak to the Dentist?
The lady replied – I am sorry but probably you have dialled a wrong number.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – Is this not my dentist’s no.?
The lady – No there is no dentist over here.
Suddenly Dr. Khanna snatched the receiver of his landline from his girlfriend Paramjit. She was a new catch of the sexagenarian doctor. A great catch indeed. Beautiful young Param was her student and in her final year of Medical studies. Dr. Khanna put the phone on speaker mode and kept the receiver down.
Dr. Khanna – Hello Mrs. Gonsalvez! Good Morning to u. Yes I am your dentist. Please tell me.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – But some lady just told that no dentist is there.
Dr. Khanna – Please pardon her Ma’am. She is a new appointee. She is ignorant about the fact that I am a dentist. Forget about her. Tell me what happened! It must be something really exciting otherwise I won’t be summoned so early in the morning.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – I have good news and even a bad one.
Dr. Khanna – Ma’am let’s hear about the good one first.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – No, I am feeling very sorry for you. So I must let you know the bad one first.
Dr. Khanna – Please go ahead Ma’am.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – I won’t need you anymore from now. I lost the troublesome tooth.
Dr. Khanna – Not an issue Ma’am. We doctors are there for getting people overcome their ailments. So when you got rid of your suffering then I am the happiest man on this world! Now tell me the better news now.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – I managed to set myself free from that devil. Philips! He is no more the same person.
Dr. Khanna – Oh God! How come? What happened?
Mrs. Gonsalvez – It happened last night. Will you allow me to narrate it vividly?
Dr. Khanna – With pleasure Ma’am! I am curious!
Mrs. Gonsalvez lamented the last night’s incident in every detail.
It was pouring heavily from the noon. As usual Mrs. Susan Gonsalvez was all alone in their dingy bungalow with her pool of cats since Mr. Philips Gonsalvez had left as per his daily routine despite of the worst mood of Mother Nature. Philips had been a dipsomaniac from the very beginning of his conjugal life with Susan. He had inherited huge ancestral property so he had no worry of earning bread and butter. He devoted his livelihood to drinking, gambling and womanising with utmost dedication. The unusual Sunday of summer was bizarre not only because of the downpour was taking the form of a deluge but also for the aching tooth of Susan which had been troubling her from the morning. The top right incisor, first one from the centre, had cavity in it which often tortured her. But now the pain seemed unbearable to Susan. She thought of calling her dentist for some quick remedy but could not find her telephone directory anywhere around. She could feel that her cats were concerned about her suffering. But like her the cats were also helpless. One of them, Miss Moppet, climbed up Philips’ cupboard and started licking the only bottle of Brandy kept in stock. That was a nice idea, Susan thought. Perhaps the severity of the pain could be diluted by some neat shots of the liquor. Without wasting any more time she gulped few sips of Brandy which gave her a bit of relief. She even poured some of it into Miss Moppet’s mouth and also to other willing peers of her. The unplanned booze party continued till the last drop of the bottle making Susan droop on her bed.
Susan regained her senses late in the night when she was kicked at the back by Philips. Still being tipsy she lingered to fathom the demand of sloshed Philips.
Philips – You bloody whore! How dare you finish up my Brandy? Now go and bring wine for me from anywhere.
Susan – I was having toothache so tried the drink to get rid of it.
Philips – You sulking witch! Now you will have neck ache as I will break it with my hands. You mad woman, where will I get to drink now? Its water everywhere out there. I won’t get a single drop from anywhere now.
Susan smiled unmindfully which aggravated Philips’ fury. He pulled her hair and yelled.
Philips – Why the hell are you laughing idiot? You want me to kill you today?
Susan – You reminded me of the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Susan released herself from her husband and recited few lines of the poem.
Susan – Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
Susan moved at a distance and giggled at Philips. He wrathfully advanced towards her but stumbled on a cat lying on the floor. Susan came forward and gave her hand in support.
Susan – Believe me Phill! My tooth was paining intolerably.
Philips pulling her hand got up from the floor.
Philips – Which one? Show it to me.
Susan opened her lips to show the troubling tooth. All of a sudden vulgar Philips punched her on the face. Susan screeched and bled profusely. A little after she started coughing severely being choked by something in her throat. Philips mellowed down a little by her strange reaction.
Philips – What happened? Have some water.
Susan had some water and got relief after a while.
Susan – You have broken my troublesome tooth and I swallowed it. Thank you Phill! I can’t feel the pain anymore.
Philips – Drama? You are good at it. Now just get lost and let me go to sleep. I wish you are dead soon. I am sick and tired of your insanity.
Philips went to sleep. Susan was still feeling drowsy so tried the same. But after few minutes of silence in the room Susan wailed again.
Philips – What happened?
Susan did not reply. She kept on crying which forced Philips to switch on the lights. Susan was wincing of pain holding her tummy. Within few moments Philips could make out that her belly was enlarging like an inflated balloon. Philips got panicked.
Philips – What happened to your stomach now?
Susan – Labour pain!
Philips – Oh Jesus! You never told me that you are pregnant!
Susan – Even I was not aware of it!
Philips – What shit are you talking?
Susan tried to deliver the baby with regular pushes. Philips rendered his support and after a lot of toiling Susan delivered a baby. Philips almost collapsed to see the baby. The neonatal was not a human but a small white kitten.
Philips could not believe his own eyes. Susan got up and picked the kitten in her arms.
Philips – By the Holy Grail, I don’t believe this!
Susan – Wooo! She is so sweet! Look she looks exactly like you Phill.
Philips – How is this possible? Can a human breed a cat?
Susan – Even I am surprised. But I can guess that what happened actually.
Philips – You quenched your physical thirst by these filthy animals?
Susan – What nonsense. See you hit me and I swallowed the tooth which went into my stomach. This baby is born from that tooth.
Philips – Shut up! Do you think I am a kid?
Susan – See Phill it’s possible. My tooth and your blow! Just like ovum and sperm. A new life out of mutual contribution!
Philips – How could you be so mean? Having sex with cats! I feel like to vomit over your face.
You sick whore!
Susan – Believe me Phill, it’s not true. They all are like my children.
Philips vigorously kicked Susan on her abdomen. Susan groaned and all the cats inside the room cried in chorus.
Philips – Get out of my house! Take all these offspring of Satan away from my sight.
Susan lost her temper this time. She protested boldly.
Susan – They are far better than you bloody bugger! You drunkard what have you given me in life? You are even incapable of giving the basic need of a wife.
Philips- Sex! That’s why you will have it with those leechlike animals?
Susan – Company! I am talking about companionship you shit headed rascal. These cats compensated your love and affection in my life!
Philips – Wonderful! Should I bring an orangutan to compensate me on the bed? You will get more pleasure and at least your baby will be able to walk on two feet.
He kicked her again. But this time Susan retaliated with her legs while screaming. The cats growled this time along with her.
Philips – How dare you slut! Okay! I know what to do. I will kill your baby right now.
Philips picked up the white kitten in his hand and held it high up on the air. Susan became furious and jumped down from the bed. She hastily crawled towards Philips and clutched her jaws on his legs. Philips put down the kitten and tried to set himself free from Susan’s deadly bite. But Susan was obstinate this time. She attacked Philips like a wounded tigress. Following her at least ten of her cats attacked Philips. They jumped on Philips and started biting him at every inch of his body! Desperate Philips tried to save himself in every possible way. He got the empty bottle of brandy in his reach and picked it up. Clouted it randomly on the attacking cats but all went in vain. Impulsively he then banged the bottle on Susan’s head. Susan left him and was about to lose her consciousness. But before that she could see that rest of her pet cats attacked Philips revengefully. Philips was giving up and he was shrinking too. Furs were coming out of his entire body. Philips was meowing desperately and was gradually turning into a cat. Susan fainted.
Susan narrated the entire story to Dr. Khanna. He heard it patiently and Param sceptically overheard.
Susan – This is the happiest morning of my life Doctor. I opened my eyes to see that my Phill was sitting on my belly and my darling daughter Snow white was lying beside me. Moreover I got rid of that evil tooth. But Doctor I am feeling sorry for you.
Dr. Khanna – Absolutely don’t be Ma’am. I am so happy for you. But I have a request. Don’t ever reveal this incident to anybody. You know turning human into any form of animal is an offence. You can be charged against law.
Susan – Is it so? Thank you for the advice. Please forget that I have spoken to you too regarding this. After so long my life has taken the right course and I don’t want to spoil it again. Ok Doctor Bye!
Dr. Khanna – Bye Mrs. Gonsalvez! Please take care!
Dr. Khanna disconnected the line and breathed a sigh of relief.
Param – Will you kindly throw some light Dentist Sir! When did your degrees in Psychiatry turned into Dentistry?
Dr. Khanna – Darling it’s a long story.
Param – Please honey tell me! I want to hear.
Dr. Khanna – Of course! It’s a good case study for you. Seven years back, I was voluntarily helping an NGO which worked for accused with mental disorders. Mrs. Susan Gonsalvez was charged with the murder of her husband Mr. Philips Gonsalvez, who was an abusive alcoholic. But unusual fact was that Philips was bitten and scratched to death by her wife. Police investigation went against her and she was about to be declared convict by the court. But my study revealed that Susan’s solitude and staying with her pet cats made her schizophrenic. I proved that toxoplasma gondii parasite found on cats was the reason for her mental illness. She started believing that she was slowly turning into a cat. One day when Philips being intoxicated abused Susan, she reacted thinking herself to be a cat and killed him. Philip could not defend much due to the numbness caused by alcohol. I saved her from law and she is under my treatment since then.
Param – But why was she calling you a dentist?
Dr. Khanna – Oh that’s a trick! She has no connection with the real world now. She is still suffering from mild schizophrenia. She experiences fictitious events at regular intervals. But her weird thoughts have a particular pattern. I have gauged the pattern and identified the people whom she would like to communicate after such hallucinations. There is a customised telephone directory kept with her which bears only my contact number against every name.
Param – Sorry but I didn’t get you!
Dr. Khanna – Like she often calls police to admit about her guilt or priest of the church to confide her sin. In normal cases she calls veterinary doctor for her cats or dentist for her teeth problems. I enact all the roles over telephone and do the needful. I send the appropriate men in her service after assessing her genuine need.
Param – You mean to say that you monitor that mental patient solely through telephone that too depending on her whims to call you.
Dr. Khanna – No there is an attendant. I appointed Tom for her when she was released from the mental asylum. He takes care of her 24 x 7. He keeps me informed from time to time. Even I visit her once in a month for check up.
Param – But why are you doing this much for Mrs. Gonsalvez?
Dr. Khanna – Primarily for the ethics of a doctor! Mainly for wealth! Don’t forget darling that Susan is the possessor of huge property without any next to kin. She has no contact with the world. So I am the sole legal heir of her huge property.
Param – What if her servant claims the legatee?
Dr. Khanna – Ha ha! I told you dear that he works for me. I am his lord. If he gets everything then it’s logically easier for me to take over the property of Gonsalvez. Don’t you think that I am a genius?
The telephone ringed again. Param picked up to hear somebody looking for Father D’Costa.
Param – She called up again!
Dr. Khanna – Hello!
Mrs. Gonsalvez – Hello Father, I can’t come to the confession box of the church. Can it be done over telephone?
Dr. Khanna – Yes my child. Please go ahead.
Mrs. Gonsalvez – Father I have committed a sin unknowingly. Being drunk probably I had sex with my pet cat. I got pregnant and delivered a kitten last night.
Dr. Khanna – Nothing is wrong my child. All your sins are excused. Don’t reveal this to anyone else. God will bless you. Amen!
Keeping down the phone Susan smiled. Tom winked and smiled too.
Tom – Relief for two weeks!
Susan brought him close to her holding his hair and both smooched passionately. One of the cats purred, probably the tom cat of seven pounds.

— END —