The Master And His Student
It is said that Internet is for cats. And a casual flipping through the pages of the world wide web amply serves to consolidate that impression. Even to someone like me, who is an inveterate dog-person, and who vocally professes not to like cats, adorable furballs adorably engaged in various adorable antics can often seem adorably irresistible; oh, did I mention they are adorable?
It is that same internet that alerted me to an awesome program at the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of the Berks County in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. This program, known as the BOOK BUDDIES, "invites children in grades 1-8, who are able to read at any level, to the shelter to read to the cats in their adoption room. The program will help children improve their reading skills while also helping the shelter animals by providing socialization and human interaction." According to ARL, "cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing."
Best of all? The children showed remarkable improvement in reading, and this program has been well-utilized by home-schooled children, parents who want their children to form a bond with animals, parents of autistic children, and so forth. The Book Buddies link points to the Berks ARL webpage with adorable and delightful photos of young kids reading to cats. Enjoy!
Changing tracks, let me tell you a little bit about one of the greatest poets from India, Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), poet, author, philosopher, artist - a much-beloved, well-respected polymath, whose glorious work has been inextricably interlinked with the psyche of people from my part of the world, comprising Bangla- or Bengali-speaking folks of at least two countries (Indian and Bangladesh) as well as diaspora. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for "his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West."
Tagore, Left; Tonks, my sister's cat, Right.
So... From adorable feline cuteness to beloved poet Tagore, did that seem too much of an abrupt segue? Perish that thought, dear Reader o'mine. In a collection of verses for children, Tagore wrote "Master-Babu" - the Master/Teacher - a first-person narrative about a little boy who wants his cat to emulate the quintessential Bengali good boy, Gopal, and concentrate on his studies. To his consternation, the cat has entirely different plans, as cats always do - much of it directed towards world domination!
Since, sadly, most of you do not read Bangla, I made an attempt to translate the poem to the best of my ability (which, admittedly, is not much), retaining the original meter. The translation, of course, does nothing to convey the pure sweetness of the source poem, but... I hope you'll pardon me.
I dedicate this post to the pseudonymous poet-blogger, Digital Cuttlefish, whose verses are always a source of enjoyment and inspiration.