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Lajo Cat was famished. Her stomach was growling and she hoped that she would come across a plump rat soon. She tiptoed into a house and crept inside the kitchen.

Lajo Cat wished that she would find a few rats scampering there. If there were no rats, she hoped that she would at least find some milk or curd.

But to Lajo Cat’s dismay, there weren’t any rats in the kitchen. And the milk and curd were inside the refrigerator. “Sheesh,” Lajo Cat muttered.

“Why do people use refrigerators?

Refrigerators have doors that are hard to open. They deprive us cats of milk and curd.”

Lajo Cat felt disappointed and turned to go when a sound startled her. She turned to see if somebody from the house had spotted her and was coming after her with a stick. But Lajo Cat saw something that made her grin from ear to ear.

Two plump rats named Janu Rat and Manu Rat were drinking oil from an oil can. They were dipping their long tails, one at a time, in the oil can. They were then licking the oil off their tails.

Lajo Cat’s joy knew no bounds. “These rats are brilliant,” she said and giggled. “They are drinking oil from the can, without even touching it. I’m really lucky to have found them. I will catch hold of one of them for my dinner.”

Janu Rat and Manu Rat heard Lajo Cat giggling and looked up. They began trembling as soon as they saw her. They were sure that she wouldn’t let them escape.

But Janu Rat didn’t want to give up so easily. He gathered all the courage he had and said, “Aunty Cat! Come and look inside this box! It contains some buttery chapattis. I think you’ll like them. They are quite delicious!”

“I am not your aunt,” Lajo Cat hissed. “So, stop calling me that! I have made up my mind to feast on one of you today. Nothing can change that. Not even buttery chapattis!” |

“Er… Feast on one of us?” Manu Rat asked. He was shaking like a leaf in the wind. “Yes, I will definitely eat one of you,” Lajo Cat said and laughed. “And remember, there can only be one relation between us. That of a hunter and prey!”

“A hunter, huh?” Janu Rat said, thinking quickly. “Aunty Cat, have you heard of King Venkatraman Singh of Reeva? He was a great hunter too. My grandmother has told me many stories about him. He was very strong. It seems that every time he threw a spear, it would tear open the trunk of a tree.”

I’ve heard that too,” Lajjo Cat said, showing off. “I know what a good hunter King Venkatraman Singh was. I know many stories about him too.” Lajo Cat then tried to recollect what else she knew about King Venkatraman Singh. Janu Rat and Manu Rat noticed that she was distracted and tried to slip away. But Lajo Cat was quite sharp.

The two Rats

“Hey!” she hissed angrily. “Stay where you are! I am going to eat one of you now.”

Janu Rat decided that he would keep Lajo Cat talking. He then said, “Aunty Cat, did you know that the real hunting was done by King Venkatraman Singh’s favourite white lion? His name was Mohan. By the way, have you ever seen a white lion? I have heard that white lions are found in Reeva. Have you ever been there? I have always wanted to go to Reeva and see if it’s true.”

“No, I haven’t seen a white lion or been to Reeva,” Lajo Cat said. “But I am quite sure that white lions exist. We cats are related to lions, you know. We are cousins. And if white lions exist I’ll definitely meet them whenever I go to Reeva.”

Lajo Cat continued talking. She didn’t notice Janu Rat and Manu Rat tiptoeing out of the kitchen and running far away from her.