This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.

I had been asking the same question daily on rising from my bed. "At what time did Dolfy return home last night?"


"Very late.  Around midnight. But, today at 5.30 this morning," my wife answered that particular morning..


Isn't this too much to swallow for any father? 


"It's all your fault," I screamed at Dolfy's mother nearly losing my shirt that particular morning.  "You have given him too much of freedom to roam about where he likes and when he likes".  "Correct or not?" I demanded of my wife.


Wifey threw up her arms in utter despair.  "Well, I tell him.  I explain to him the bad effects of late nights; I raise my voice at times and try to reason out with him too.  But would he listen to me?"  Her words indicated total helplessness in the matter. 


Realising her predicament I suggested that she lock him up in the room.  No outing whatever after six p.m.


"I tried that too," she replied.  "But the poor fellow cries and howls and does dozens of somersaults  and rolls and rolls pleading and wailing."


"So, what did you do then?"


"So, I let him go.  What else could I do?  But I allow him out only after eight p.m.

After all, I am a mother.  All mothers have a soft heart, you see?"


Then I suddenly remembered.  "Eight p.m. you said?  Oh, that's how I happened to see him outside our house when  I was returning home from work.  You know he was with a girl?"


"Are you sure it was our Dolfy?" she asked screwing up her forehead.


"Sure, it was him.  Can't I identify our own offspring?  'Dolfy, Dolfy,' I called out at the top of my voice. "


"Did he stop and answer you?"


"He did turn his head in my direction but ignoring me completely; he took an about turn and ran away with his girl friend.  Awful. I felt insulted too. See how he treats me…?"


"Oh, that's bad.  Very bad," wifey added sympathetically.  But there was no hint of any anger in her tone.


"He must be having several girl friends in our area," I commented tapping my head.


At this point, wifey came out with a kind of rejoinder.  "He is always in a hurry to get out, you see?  He misses his dinner too quite often or takes it very late at night or early morning."


"Did you notice that he has become a full time night shift worker these days?. He is out the whole night. And to make up, he sleeps the whole day.  What a routine for an young man?"


"Yes, I know.  I know.  Usually, I have to shake him out of his bed for his breakfast and lunch."


"Can't we do something to modify his behaviour and routine? The neighbours too have noticed his gallivanting habits and are gossiping about it."  


My better half made a sincere confession. "It's impossible to reform him.  He pays no attention to what I say.  We must admit our joint failure at our bringing up this male.  What do you say?"


The time then was 0730 hours.  Dolfy walked in nonchalantly, tired  and worn out.  He cast a side-glance at us rather casually.


"Where were you the whole of last night?" I thundered at him.


He raised his head with a look of annoyance.  "Meow.. meow….," he blurted  as  if to say, "It's none of your business."


Dolfy was our pet Tomcat.  He died recently.  I should think, due to an excessive sex life.  He seemed to be the only father cat for dozens of  felines in our colony and had been over used!


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                                                              Israel Jayakaran [Sweet grace]