Daksha (दक्षा) is a Hindi word meaning “skillful” or “brilliant.”
When he was adopted, the shelter had named him Van for his breed. Daksha was better. On his right flank was a little orange-brown spot. His Spot of Allah, as Turkish Van aficionados call it.
He was very particular about his water and his food. He could be contrary and ornery, but never mean. He didn’t tolerate over-sleeping that kept him from having breakfast any later than 6:30am. And he expected a nightly little snack around 10pm.
He would sit in the front foyer of the house and look out the window-pane of the front door. From there, he and his sister defended the house from other cats in the neighborhood that dared to step onto the porch. He’d rear up and bat loudly at the window until they left. Other times, he would sit on the window sill in the kitchen, behind the curtains. When he would sit there, if you batted at the curtain, he would bat back with just one paw.
He knew when people were coming home, his little face at the door as headlights shone when turning into the driveway.
He didn’t like leaving the house for any reason and would complain immediately. NPR on the car radio would soothe him sometimes when he needed to go to the vet, either for checkups or more serious things. His doctors and nurses kept calling him “she” — usually with “she’s so pretty.” I didn’t always correct them.
He liked to be scratched behind the ears and under his chin. He didn’t purr easily. You had to earn it. And it was always worth the little extra effort.
He made little cat sounds. Little grunts, or little trills like a turtle dove. “Prrrble” sounds.
He would walk into a room, decide it was time to stay put, then flop to one side with another little cat noise. As if sometimes relaxing was far more important than being graceful. Once on his side, he would maneuver across the carpet like a little sidewinder snake, just dragging along. Even when he had all four legs.
He loved shopping bags, the eco-friendly kind. Running into them and making them slide on the carpet and then hiding in a little cave of his own making. A cat in a bag.
He would bump your leg if he liked you.
He had favorite blankets. He would know when I was about to take a nap and hop right up on my chest and settle in, tucking his paws under and purring and looking at me.
If you couldn’t find him, chances are he’d be nesting in a hamper of dirty clothes. Or he’d hide under the bed, at the head of the bed, just too far for an arm to reach.
He was the best model. I taught myself how to use my DSLR (and any new lenses) by taking pictures of him. He would pose and be regal and I’d get used to focal points and how they worked.
He would place himself in the doorway of a room, positioned and angled just so he could watch the whole room but also the hallway. In the winter, he loved sitting by the heater, his heater, usually curled up in a little sherpa. Some nights I would find him just sitting in the middle of the living room. Sitting there in the dark. Sphinx-ing, I’d call it.
After he lost his leg, he was faster than he was on four. Could leap just as high and landed without a sound. Made his way up and down stairs and never needed to lean on any wall.
Had no patience for bad weather, not liking the sound of any weather that was louder than sunshine. But he did love sunshine. He sought out sunbeams and would find them to nap in, even if the floor was hard and uncomfortable.
He was such a very good boy.