as featured in:
Care2 by Laura Simpson of Animal Rescue Chase
Katzenreporter by Coco Katzenreporter (in German)
As January creep away, the hype of the holiday vanishes back into the routine; and so is my confidence.
While taking various part time jobs to keep the cat food bag full, I re-established Whiscraft, a handmade-gift shop that I started in 2010, but soon abandoned due to the increasing hectic wave of my day job. The shop was a hit during Christmas, so our savings went a little bit thicker, and I kind of think that it might be enough for the drier days.
But as soon as the holiday rush ended, so is the sales, and the revenue graph is still flat until today. All the revenues that we have been making during the holidays are dwindling fast, and before long finding myself scraping for extra cash to pay the bills.
Soon enough, I am facing the same intersection that I always been facing: go find a regular pay check again (and make the rescue an after-work job), or stick with my current path and continue to make Whiskers' Syndicate my ultimate and permanent job. Deep in my heart I can't believe it. It's been only a month and gone are the days where I wake up in gratefulness because I do not have to do the long commute any more.
At that time, an email from a past business associate (from my previous job) offering a (good) position in the newly opened branch, seems like a promising way out. I don't believe in coincidence, only fate, so while I knit my eyebrow in front of His cross, I answered the email and arrange a meeting last Monday.
We went into a deadlock negotiating my salary, and I told the other side to consider and give me a yes or no decision next Monday. He offered to drive me halfway home, and I joined him so I can save transport.
He live in an apartment down town, in a legendary street called Braga. It is the street that originally give Bandung the title of "Paris Van Java" because the road technically has endless row of hotels, and pubs, and other sort of night entertainment (e.g: life pretty girls), just like Champ Elysée in Paris. The location is surrounded by one-way roads, and since it's the city centre the street and the surrounding areas are always dense, if not tightly packed.
The problem started when I heard a kitten's panic mew from inside the car.
Looking out, I saw a box right at the lip of the heavy traffic, at a bus shelter. At the side of the box I saw a white tiny kitten yelling endlessly in terror calling for its mother.
I hate that moment the most. I can't jump out from the car, I cant help the kitten, and I can't do anything to solve the situation. The best I can muster is go back to the shelter as soon as my associate drop me off in front of the apartment building; and during that awfully long time (despite just 30 minutes) I beg and pray and demand that God took care of the kitten until I am back there to pick him/her up.
When the car finally pulled over, I jumped out, politely declined his courtesy of a cup of tea, show my sincere appreciation of his willingness to drive me all the way, remind him that he has one week time to think about the job offer, and hit the road.
I told you that the area is surrounded by one-way roads right? If I took public transport it will go round and it took long time, not to mention the traffic jam, so I cast my bag to the back and do what I always do when I need to act fast: run.
I ran against the flowing, honking, speeding, uncaring cars, and motorcycle, and whatever. My ear was filled with the sound of the kitten's pleading, and I eventually prayed Hail Mary out loud just to keep my mind focused while continue to run against road flow.
Half an hour later, I was panting right in front of the bus shelter, but the box is gone. It's getting dark, and the only hope is the faint mew that I heard from the bushes behind the shelter, so I fall on my knee and start to crawl. Heck with people thinking I am crazy. That time, I am.
I got one. A tiny calico who has been yelling all along, and a lifeless tuxedo, just as tiny, not far away from her. I didn't realize that all the while, a pair of eyes was watching me.
When I finally cleared out the bush, and gone back standing with two kittens as big as the palm of my hand, my eyes met those of an old man.
He just stand there, watch me in silence, and follow me with his eyes when I walk toward the box that I saw earlier and peeked inside. The box was empty.
"There was three", he said, cautiously. Older Chinese generation in Bandung always told us to be careful with strangers.
I looked at him, not saying anything, but I guess my eyes said it all. He pointed his finger toward the road behind me, where cars sped up like tomorrow is the end of the world.
At the end of the pointing finger, I saw a remain of a kitten, a fleck of white with black spot, flattened to the road.
It was the time the world stood still. At least my world.
"That one is also dead"
I look back at the old man. He is pointing at the tiny tuxedo in my hand. The Calico is still crying loudly. "He is too tired yelling, and it's cold"
The old man is right. The tuxedo kitten was dead.
"Did you see everything?" I asked.
I want to ask why he didn't do anything, especially when the spotted kitten went over to the road, but my tears went before me. So I just stand there, looking at the white spot on the road. Every two second, a tire went on it like an iron on a cloth.
"I can't walk fast, I am old" said the man with a low voice. "I asked the parking guy to take the remaining kittens and the box under the bush so they won't go over to the road"
My speech hasn't come back, and my tears are still falling, so I tried my best to smile, and nod. "Thank you", I whispered and walk away.
I saw a bus coming, and wave my hand to stop it; but as soon as the driver heard a kitten crying from inside my jacket, he closed the door before I stepped in and went rushing ahead, brushing my arms.
I am not surprised. Bus drivers or other public transport had been rejecting me all the time when they know I bring a cat with me.
I don't have money to take a taxi home, so I just stand there, who knows for how long, waiting for the kitten to get tired and sleep. Then I took a ride home.
The new baby of the Whiskers' Syndicate is called Monday.
She lives off kitten formula, and unusually quiet at the first two days, but she seems to catch up.
Until today, when she just sit there, looking at me, while I was answering email, and got mad that Care2 still lock me out.
I didn't realize she was staring at me until I accidentally look over to the window to check on the other cats at the backyard. I don't know what she was thinking while looking at me, but I was sucked by the bottomless sincerity that overflow her tiny dark eyes.
All of a sudden, tears start to flow on my cheek again.
This little baby probably doesn't know what is going on. She probably just sensed that she was in danger, but is helpless to resolve it. So she did what she can: cry. Like her tuxedo sibling, they just cry. Whether they make it or not, they just do what they can do.
And then it dawn on me that I want to keep that sinless eyes shining. I want to keep those small breath blowing, I want to keep the little step going, I want to see her made it through. I want her to know that because she asked, it will be given, because she knocked (or make some noise) the door will be opened.
That one hour, two prayers went to heaven, and answered. God sent me to her, and at the same time, sent His answer to me through her.
Maybe I just need to do what I can, and let the other follow by itself. Whether at the end I make it or not, I just do what I can.
This afternoon in church, I looked at the giant cross above, and made my promise. I will keep on writing, it's my calling, it's what I can do, so I will keep on writing, and rescuing.
One hour that change the lives of two. One hour that last forever.