In a particular village, a wealthy man had a daughter named Sukumari. She was so hopelessly lazy that she never did a stroke of work but always played with kittens. When she was old enough to marry, Sukumari turned down several. Youths before, she chose a good-looking but poor young man. Before marriage, she made him swear that he would never scold or hit her.
After going to her husband, Sukumari did not change her habits. She played with her pet kitten all the time. She seemed to have no other interest in life except the kitten. Her husband did not know what to do about it. The house was in a state of utter neglect. His food was never ready in time. If he questioned her about these things, she gave evasive replies.
The poor fellow very soon came to the end of his patience. He had a great urge to chastise his lazy wife. But he restrained himself.
Ultimately, he thought of a way to teach the girl a good lesson. As he was going out one morning, he addressed the kitten she was playing with, “Look here, Pussy! By noon when I return, keep the whole house in order. Cook food and keep it ready. I shall punish you severely if 1 finds anything amiss!” Then he went away.
When he returned home, nothing had changed. Sukumari was playing with the kitten as usual.
The husband got wild. He tore the kitten from his wife’s hands, and the kitten tried to hold on to her so desperately that Sukumari’s hands were severely flawed.
“What did I tell you this morning?” he shouted at the kitten. “Why didn’t you obey me, you wretch ?” With that, he began to beat the kitten severely.
On top of the pain caused by the scratching, Sukumari was hurt to see her pet being beaten. “Stop it!” she cried. “What is the use of beating the poor thing? I can’t even understand you. How can you expect a kitten to keep house and cook?”
The husband flung the kitten away as he said, “I don’t know all that! I know that I have a right to dictate to the kitten only. I shall exercise that right.”
Even after this, there was no change in Sukumari. The next day the husband found no improvement in the state of affairs when he came home at noon. He beat the kitten very severely for it. The kitten once again clawed Sukumari.
Sukumari was astonished at her husband’s behavior. “You’ll kill that cat quite unnecessarily. It can never understand what you want!” she told her husband.
“But you understand me, don’t you? If you are afraid of losing the kitten, you can do what I want the kitten to,” her husband retorted.
After that, the house was always neat, and the food was ready on time. Love for the kitten transformed Sukumari into a good wife.
Chandamama December 1955 | S Krishna Prasad