It was a beautiful Friday morning in Chimbai, Mumbai. My friend Anto had set us up for a casual stroll through the streets of Chimbai with Jyotsna, a wonderful woman that feeds stray cats in her village. Everyday. Twice a day. Now for 7 years straight.
If that sounds fascinating, it’s because it is. She considers these cats, over 150 of them (and counting), her extended family. And, like her own family in Mumbai, she cares for them every single day. It felt ritualistic; to begin every single morning with this simple act of kindness.
A Cat Named Jova
She knows all of them by heart. How could she not; she’s names nearly all of them. Sometimes, we were told, it is her two young daughters who have given them names. That’s why on a particular street corner you may find “Belle” chilling with “Sebastian.”
The cat you see here was a recent newcomer to the family, so nobody had yet come up with a name for him. As soon as I approached him, he came closer to greet me by purring and caressing my leg with his body and tail. I usually don’t receive this treatment from cats, which anybody who knows me knows as well that I’m not a “cat person.” But this connection felt different. Jyotsna, perhaps noticing our immediate bond (or that our color coordination was on point), told me I could name him if I wanted to. It felt like such an honor; being granted the opportunity to name one of her children.
And I did.
So from now on, everyday when she walks around feeding her extended family, whenever she reaches this specific corner in Chimbai, she will be greeted by a cat named “Jova.”
May we all leave pieces of ourselves wherever we go. And may we also carry beautiful stories from elsewhere forever in our hearts.
The Artidote is a passion project running on love for the past 3 years by a team of one. But I’ve finally let go of my fear of asking for help, which I need more than ever to sustain the amount of work it requires today to keep it running. Please consider contributing to its financial sustainability so that I may be able to keep this dream running <3