Meows of Change

by Chandra Sundeep
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Meows
Meowing Grove was lapped in festive cheer. After all, it was Whisker’s Valour Day, the day when all tomcats had to prove they were worth their paws by glomming a queen. And no, she couldn’t be an ordinary jungle cat. She had to be pretty, svelte, and slim.

Yes, despite being a no-man’s-land, Meowing Grove was steeped in misogyny.

While other tomcats queued eagerly at the arena, Racipso paced in the garden. A laid-back and well-groomed cat, he enjoyed chasing butterflies and birds and dipping his paws in the koi pond. On any other day, he would be grooming himself furiously. He knew about the dangers of the accumulation of parasites, ticks, and dead skin cells. But today, his coat was covered in dried leaves and twigs and he couldn’t care less about it.

Racipso gazed at his reflection in the pond. He longed for a pedicure, but he couldn’t bring himself to dip his paws in the welcoming water.

“What’s wrong, buddy?” His best friend, Cusamel, the garden rat, squeaked, catching him by surprise.

Racipso blinked his tears away. For two consecutive years, he had skipped Valour Day celebrations, thanks to a book titled ‘Foods Cats Must Avoid.’

“I don’t like this… forcing someone to be your partner. What about the queen’s consent? Why doesn’t it matter? Dad and Mum want me to bag the prettiest queen, just like my brothers. If I don’t, they are going to be disappointed. I don’t want to do this… I wish I could run away.”

Cusamel’s tiny head bobbed as he nodded, “But you can’t run forever.”

“What should I do? Tell me!”

“You gotta take the call, buddy.”

Racipso rolled around on the grass for what felt like ages. The sound of a bugle sent him racing towards the arena. The chief guest, a chonky cat, was yowling into the mike when Racipso lunged at him. Purring a hurried apology, he snatched the mike. “I’ve to say speak up. This madness has to stop!” He paused, scanning the crowd for his parents. As expected, disappointment flickered across their faces.

After a deep breath, he snarled, “Why should we act like barbarians to prove our worth? Who made these rules? The humans? The same humans who are extinct because of patriarchy and misogyny?

Who remembers what life was like when those humans had us as their pets? Aren’t we much happier now?”

Someone cheered and the sounds of applause spread through the thick greens like wildfire.

Many Gen X and Millennial cats murmured their dissent, but Gen Z’s sloganeering boomed loud and clear: Misogyny Dies, Consent Matters, and No Human Rules. The festive atmosphere turned tense, enveloped in a volatile exchange of fiery words. Thankfully, the voice of sanity prevailed soon. The cat-izens of Meowing Grove agreed to rewrite the rules. Misogyny would not be the end of their kind, too.

A delighted Racipso beamed as his parents licked him generously. He’d never have to hide his paws in the closet.

 

Meows of Change was first published on Penmancy and received the winner prize. The prompt was to write a story with the sentence – you can’t run forever.

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