The crisp air whipped the faces of the passer-by on the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Everyone was in a hurry to go somewhere. Even the tourists seemed to be making haste. One would think considering the purpose of a tour they might take a moment to look around and soak it all in. Their tour guide who seemed to be the shepherd coaxed the group into Fragonard Musée du Parfum.
A wave of sweet intoxicating fragrances encapsulated them once they set foot inside the perfume museum. After being ensconced in 19th century interiors for the better part of an hour they were led into a quaint looking shop. Right from delicate perfumes to scented candles, various little knick knacks called out to the tourists to come forth and make their wallets a bit lighter.
Not once did a flicker of second thought appear in their minds as they shelled out exorbitant sums for tiny bottles of sweet smelling scents. The thought of taking it back home as a sign of visiting the famous perfume museum; nonchalantly suggesting to their friends back at home as to how luxurious these perfumes were and gifting it to a handful of people to give an aura of being someone who can afford to dole out such lavish gifts, played in almost everyone’s mind.
As they stepped out, mingling with the crowd that didn't show any signs of thinning, gripping their decorative paper bags containing their haul from the museum, they made their way to the shuttle.
Always in a hurry and not even sparing a look towards an old woman seated on the pavement in a corner opposite the museum, the group jostled their way through the crowd.
She had the look of a sun dried peach. She sat there wearing clothes that had seen better days. A shock of grey hair was her crown. Yet, her eyes sparkled like the ocean, hinting at the colourful past she had lived before degenerating into the state she was in today. There was a slight movement at the corner of her coat. For a minute, it appeared as though the apparel had a life of its own but on closer inspection, it was clear that it was only a kitten which had blended in with the grey washed out clothes draped over the woman.
It purred and clawed and yawned. But the old woman looked at it as if it were the only kitten able to do so.
A few yards away, a daughter bickered with her parents about not having bought enough vials of perfume. Snatches of the conversation floated towards the old woman but her thoughts went back to the silver kitten mewling at her side. Her provision of food was running precariously low. She had to scavenge something to keep the little one’s heart beating.
The bickering had now escalated to a full-fledged fight. The daughter who was throwing a tantrum was now refusing to eat her lunch that was now being handed out in small boxes to the entire group before they boarded the bus.
A few months ago, the old woman had stumbled upon this ball of fur, silent and curled up next to the mother who was fogging the pavement with her last breath. And ever since, that silver feline had become her responsibility.
The angry daughter was storming away from her parents towards the old woman. She threw the box towards the trashcan, running out of ways to express her annoyance. She gave a pause and marched back into the bus without acknowledging the pained look on her parents’ faces.
The box had bounced off the rim of the trashcan and landed on the pavement. An inexplicably good shot of luck. She hobbled towards the box and brought it back to her corner. A croissant, an apple and a tiny plastic bottle of orange juice. The worrisome look on her face dissipated. Today would be a good day.
Months later, the silver streak that kept the old woman company had moved on. Moved on like the boys she had raised as a nanny at the Loys Chateau. The kitten was now a cat.
Déjà vu was the only card fate dealt her.