When I was small, I used to sing a little nursery rhyme when I am home alone: “In my own little corner on my own little chair, I could be whatever I want to be…” I would then continue the rhyme with imaginations about the world. Amelia Earhart across the Pacific, a black lady with a pot above her head in Bombay, a shepherd by the Alpines, a mountain ranger in Rocky mountains, diving the Great Barriers Reef in Australia, among the wolf packs in the wild, walking alongside a white and black panda in China. I could go on for hours, not realizing how time passed by as I continue to work on my chores.
When I grow up, however, just like anyone else, I lean to embrace the dull lives of an adult. Get up, make breakfast, go to work, do this and that, go home tired, sleep like dead, get up in the morning….
Gone are the playful days, and the many distant dream that I once so determined to live for, the little wants that keep our heart sparking with fire, and anticipating new days. Though I have not yet outgrown the Peter pan and wings, I bitterly accept that I am too old for tales of knights and kings. I am now a full time salary-woman and a part time animal welfare fighter.
As the calling of my humanity grow louder, I took an utterly brainless decision to be a full time rescuer, and part time salary-woman. I know that my life would go downhill after that. No more designer’s shirts, no more expensive make ups, no more fancy food. I simply gave up the life of a princess to become a desolate pariah in the unforgiving consumerism world.
Even as I walk through this hard life with joy and genuineness, routine is my worse devil. It’s not easy to juggle between work, life and rescue; and since work and rescue must go so I can live and let my refugees live, I crossed out life.
With that, gone is my remaining day dreams. Life is a stereotype. A rat race, said Robert Kiyosaki. When people send messages to each other to live as if today is last, I know how it feels. It tasted just like how I have been spending my last dime every single day.
After I lost the golden kitten who was about to be a chili sauce (read my other post: Child’s Play), I ran away from my failure into more work, and more rescue. After all his pain all I can give is a name. Topaz Tanenah d’Angeli. Topaz for his color, Tanenah for being such a cute, tiny golden lion, and Angel for being one, but aside of that, I fail to save his live. I loathe my homeland for being so ignorant to neglect animal welfare law, and I curse them in life and death by being so corrupted to let so many cruelty take place and don’t even feel anything.
Two days after his passing I work late that I missed the garbage, so I got to dump the trash by myself in a landfill about ten minutes bike ride from home. As much as I hate it, the rain has just stop. The road was muddy, and it’s cold outside.
As I dump the trash bag, I felt something creeping on my ankles.
I hoped it wasn’t a cockroach. I fear cockroach, and in respond to that fear, I froze. At home, I can just jump and run to get some insecticide, but at the landfill? Should I scream for help?
I dare myself, and peeked down.
There it was, a pair of furry, white claw and big round eyes, looking straight at me, with tail swishing happily, wanting to play.
I cannot believe what I see. What is this little kitten – just as big as my fist – doing here?, but I don’t have plenty of time to think. A man with a small bulldozer is coming, so I scoop him up and step aside to give way for him.
“There were two yesterday”, he said, answering my dumb eyes as he passed by. “I think it was twin, but I’m not sure. I’m old, so my eyes were cheating on me often”
We laughed. He laughed to cheer himself on the sad fact, I laughed in relief because his eyes were not old enough to just ran over the two kittens with a bulldozer.
It will be all right: Nevaeh giving Tanenah a hug
Besides, I know where his twin is. In my house. I found him staring to a puddle at the side of the street the day before, just outside the landfill, and I scoop him up. He was the gray and white kitten who gave that warm cuddle to Topaz Tanenah d’Angeli.
A friend of mine named that gray and white kitten “Nevaeh” (try to read it backward to find out what it means), and he looks almost exactly like this little kitten I just met, it’s just that Nevaeh’s gray is tabby gray, while this one’s gray is plain gray.
I pushed him into my pocket, and give him a ride to his home; our home, and as soon as I put him down at the door, Nevaeh run like hell to him.
Last time it’s child’s play, this time it’s fate play.
For some weeks, I have no idea how to call the new comer, more so because his brother had heaven as his name, but I come to call him Eden.
Actually, the name is only to match that of his brother’s, but as he passed his days with the syndicate, he add more meanings to his name.
He is Eden, pure, full of spirits, so he play all day long. Running here, going there, nagging the older cats, tumbling as he run.
He is Eden, bright, free, and innocent, so he climb (my leg, usually), jumps, rolls. And when he cannot wait on the line for the other cat to finish eating, he’ll just push his head into the bowl and munch. “Sorry folks, I am growing, I need plenty of food, and I need it now”
Eden is joy, happiness, Eden’s spirit is contagious. For as long as my rescue life I have never met a cat with such shiny attitude that pass through the other senior to every corner of the syndicate’s den. Wherever I am in the house, I can locate Eden only by the brute noise he made while playing with the others, older or younger.
Even to myself, the little fur ball never fail to brighten my morning, rolling (literally) all over to somersaulting from one pile of boxes to another, to biting the tail of one of an older cat. He balanced out my crying and stressful life with laughter and sheer delight. Unknowingly for me, Eden had taught me to keep the sunny side up because nothing more will come out of a burnt out face. Enjoy every day, make it the best always, and never missed the courtesy of small good things that come in each our step.
The back side of it, though, I have to be extra careful with his boldness. He followed the older cats playing in the garden, and even tried to get past the fence, which gave me heart attack all the time. With bunch of torturous kids living next door, Eden’s fearless joy can land him in trouble, especially since kitten his age has not yet learn about proper sense of direction.
But he played on, and one day, slipped out to the street and ended up stranded in the next door garden.
It’s the first time I heard him cry. I know he fear, but I cannot go inside the neighbor’s garden because they lock the door and won’t come out, so I tried to coax him from the small opening under their fence. As he gingerly move closer to me, however, my cruel neighbor come out and spot him. He mumbles several nasty words, and the next second, Eden come flying over the fence like volley ball, right into my arm.
The man kicked him. Hard enough to send him flying over one meter fence.
Though nothing of him is broken, Eden learned his lesson.
Feeling kicked out (literally)
For the next few days, he is more quiet, and he never get out of the house. He went out to play (can’t resist the call I guess) but only as far as the front porch. He sleep alone (usually he perched on top of the other cats), so I spend some time with him just to cheer him up and bring back the sun of my syndicate.
In the next days, although I always stay by his side, and it cheer him up considerably, Eden is never the same bouncy spirit again. He is more solemn, calmer, laid back.
Though he bounced back into the merry, playful kitten soon after, he limit himself to the edges of my porch.
Sandwich? Hotdog? er.... hotcat? Eden, River Phoenix and Nevaeh.
The other joined him. It never cease to amaze me how cats: an animal said to be indifferent and self centered, can be so communal. When their play extended to the fence of my garden and Eden stopped, they stopped. When Eden returned and play alone on the porch, everyone follows. Hadn’t I seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how a small kitten make such big difference.
I took it as a lesson for myself. I learn to believe that though we might seem insignificant, if we put our best effort and our whole heart into something, the world will turn in our favor. We just need to make the most out of everything, no matter how small and insignificant it is.
I learned to count my blessings, in the courtesy of small things along my way. The cold morning breeze, the calling of the sunrise each morning, the tiring yet satisfying duty of running a shelter alone, and the solace of being a potential outcast for believing in different things.
Eden had taught me to never be afraid to reach out. The world is a hazardous area, but it shouldn’t shun us away from doing the best, making the best, and enjoying the most.
Eden taught me that while we might be beaten, we should not be broken.
Nearly two weeks from the kicking event, Eden start to lose appetite. He lose weight, though continue to be fluffy. He slept more, and less playful. His vet fans found nothing wrong with him, but being a psychologist myself, I had the feeling that Eden got PTSD.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is health disturbances as delayed response to stress after certain event. It can vary from a simple headache to nasty migraine, to organ failure, or total loss on reality (meaning you become crazy). In Eden’s case, he might not be showing symptoms as soon as he got kicked, maybe because of his supportive peers, but his young body is too frail to suppress the stress too long.
It is the challenge of Animal Psychology. Though the basics of the theory is the same, on human, we took the advantage of the same language, while in animals, we should solely rely on their body language, which can often be deceiving. We can analyze their outer behavior, we can look into them and be sure that nothing is wrong, but their heart belongs to them alone.
Especially in the cases of domesticated stray like Eden, or the syndicate, and many other, we can never know fully what they have been through, how hard they took it, and therefore cannot fully anticipate the effects of their hard life prior to their arrival. We can only perceive, but never sure, at least not as sure as we can with fellow humans. I strongly believe that such mistakes, wrong anticipations, is what causing problem in adoption process. With all due respect to the well intention of the foster or parents, even the best treatment will not be effective if it’s directed to the wrong place.
Cats are more like human. They can be social, they can be communal, but each of them have unique individual traits that need to be respected. They have private areas that we cannot enter, more so because they speak different language than we are.
Putting these challenges the Eden’s way, I take my relationship with each of the refugees like the meeting of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail” So much twists and turns, and pain and energy consuming, but if we truly wish for the best, and listen to our heart, all that started good, will end good.
Well, most of the time, because I am often got Lost In Translation.
Dealing with Eden’s set back, we (the syndicate and I) continue to support him, we continue to play with him, spend more time by his side, and he got better and better, but heaven got its own plan. Eden does not belong to this dark and evil world, he belong to a bright sun, he belongs to the rainbows, and green pastures, and many butterflies.
Eden belongs to eden.
This morning I saw him sleeping, non stop, while the other already awake and play. I nudge him and he got grumpy, I thought he was just sleepy, so I took his picture while he sleep because he’s so cute.
In the evening, however, when I came home from the office, I found him on his favorite towel, curling up on his side, breathless. His face calm and peaceful.
Next to him Nevaeh sit quietly, and when I pat his head, he went away. Behind me all the other cats gathered, sitting and watching. It seems to me that all of them already know what is coming.
Again, I was lost in translation.
That night when I took him to be cremated, I relive all the wonderful lesson that he had shared me. To stay courageous, to never let cruelty take hold of your heart, to make the most out of everything, to bounce back where you fall, and to keep your cutest pose to your last breath, and to make everyday a special day.
Eden is here for a mission: to teach me to dare to reach out into the darkness, so that I can take someone’s hand into the light, just like he reached out his paws to me in the dark, so he can shine a light into our days.
When I almost believe that teaching human is mission impossible, his brief visit to my life is a huge mission accomplished.
Too bad it isn’t a happy ending like fairy tale, where Cinderella goes to the church and Fairy Godmother moved on to her next client, but, who knows? He might be clawing someone else’s ankle right now, with a brighter halo on his head.