Yang Pergi

Indonesian, if you haven't guessed the title. In English it literally means "which/who/that go (away)".

I choose that title because it contains "Yang" of the "Yin and Yang" which go away today, just as stealthy as he came into our life, in the same dark and rainy night like today.

He was hiding there, under the bushes across the house, watching me feeding the street cats who missed my nightly rations and go to our house to ask for theirs. I can't spot him; he is all black, and it is, as I told you, cold, dark and rainy at night, and there's no street lamp except the light that travels from my porch.

When I finally noticed someone's watching, I was done. There's no more Whiskas Pouch in my hand but he is lucky because I stand right in front of our house. I spotted only the pair of his big, round, yellowish golden eyes and try to talk to him through mine.

I'm OK. You're OK. Just wait there and I'll be right back with more food, OK?

Then I ran back in while, apparently, he squeeze himself further into the bush by the road because I can hardly see him when I came back out. I saw his golden eyes deeper in the bush and stretch out an opened, great smelling Whiskas pouch.

He darted forward, but didn't came out from the bush. I emptied the pouch on a paper plate, and  backed out.

He came closer. I knew it from his eyes that went rounder and bigger, anxious and eager, but he won't come out still; so I step further back.

Then he jumped onto the plate, snatch it and ran away with it into the bamboo "forest" right across.

I didn't mind he did it, I mind only at the fact that he snatch the plate in such fashion that all the tuna trailed behind him so I guessed by the time he stopped running, the only thing that left is an empty paper plate.

He didn't come back that night; but I found him at the same spot the next night.

I was glad he learn fast.

That time he just snatch the tuna, went back into the bushes and munch away.  When the bits in his mouth was gone he went back snatching the tuna, and backed off into the bush.

The fourth day, he let me touch him. I didn't waste the time. I know he is still timid so I left the fence open, stretched out my Whiskas Pouch way beyond the bush so he had to go out from his hiding to eat and when he momentarily focus all his attention to the food, I snatch him and ran, carrying him like a professional Rugby player.

Everyone of you decided to call him Licorice. In Indonesia, it's called Akar Manis (means sweet root), but Licorice sounds a lot cooler.

He was big (still is), familiar with human, and within the next day, as you can see above, he's already snuggling me.

But he never get along with Frost, and my Yin even looked down on the new comer, but eventually, they just learn that they are just the same. They both has long hair, big round eyes, same size, same build, same bob tail; the only difference is that Frost is all white, and him, Licorice, is all black.

Licorice - a cough suppressant - is cool. He is aloof, carefree of the many antics of his surrounding. At home, you will find him inside the cattery, on top of the big cages, stretching out, sleeping, or just hanging out watching the wild world that hurl and curl and furl around him.

He is not normally fond of kittens, but once in a while, he shows the warmth of his personality, just like the black yang always has its white dot.

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But there's also something that he always kept in the darkness of his life. Never told, never known. Occasionally I would notice that he eats less, but his belly is always big and hard, just like everyday. At other time, he eats like a horse, or an elephant, perhaps, but he didn't grow bigger.

At all time, he retains his laissez faire personality; except when he feels like being spoiled, he will follow me wherever I go, and pinch my hand, or hang around near the table where I prepare medicine, or crushing supplement pills into powder, and when I look at him and talked to him, he'd just meow and I know that he said he would rather me put my hand on his head.

These past few days, he was on the eat-less-steady-weight mode, but it concerns me less because he looks healthy. He eats, he sleeps, he plays, he rolls around.

But this morning I found him yellow.

It's that dark secret of his that leaks and blots into the surface like stain over white cloth.

I rushed him to the vet, I remember whatever food he has, whatever supplement, and that I didn't give him any medicine. He was never yellow before, he never really been sick, he was perfect.

The vet told me that he probably got it even before he came into The Whiskers' Syndicate, looking at how fast he dropped down, and since we didn't know what his life was like, they couldn't pinpoint what cause his liver problem.

His jaundice was so bad, his eyes lost the green part, and the vet told me straight on that he didn't look good. The outlook is even worse.

They put him on ICU none the less, and I left him in the clinic because Catherine called and told me she has been feverish for three days and it won't come down. Her husband was out of town, so I went to her place and escort her to ER, the human one. She has urinary tract infection.

Then I went to the bank in the hope of picking up donation that Lori had transferred through Western Union, and you bet, it's not easy either.

In the past two years, Indonesia government has been "massively" trying to convert our mundane, manually typed and printed ID cards into electronic ID. Their target is that by 2016 we have single national ID with retina identification (no, it's not part of an iPhone, it's the print of our eyes) and finger print, but like other things, the budget went into everyone's pocket and people left with limited tools and equipment, so even after two years, some areas still doesn't have an e-ID.

Including me.

When  got to the bank they ask for my ID and MTCN number, which I gladly comply. However, the bank only want to release money to people who have e-ID. Whatever the reason, no e-ID, no money.

Sounds familiar? I am dealing with another PayPal.

I left them and try other bank, calling Western Union on my way and suggested to bring additional identification. I was about 15 minutes from the bank when the vets inform me that Licorice went down and I might want to see him while he's here.

I changed course.

He was calm, and he greet me with a long meow, protesting me for leaving him in a strange place, though he actually enjoy the vets spoiling him and marveling his soft, shiny fur. I noticed that his eyes were already completely yellow, and so is his black skin, I picked him up, cradle him, and let him rest his head on my shoulder.

I carry him around the clinic while he purred, with heavy breath. It seemed that he was very tired.

Then he cough, once, twice. Purr again, cough again.

When he finally fall asleep, he didn't wake up.

The balance tipped over then; though I didn't know what to do. I felt guilty because I interpret his "fatigue" as his personality instead of sign of sickness, but he ate normally for his size. He gained weight and lost a little, but aren't we all?.

I guess I'll never know. If it's my sin because I was being negligent about those signs, then I'd go to hell when I die, then I'd willingly go to hell. The only comfort at that moment is Licorice's relaxed corpse, draped over my shoulder like a baby. A fraction of that comfort was that he lived in abundance, though for such short time. He is loved and respected and has enough food, and plentiful of catnip whenever he wants. He lived like a king, he lived like a sentient being. He has family.

Such comfort kept me intact long enough when I picked Catherine up from the hospital and take her home, bought her medicine (thank God she has insurance), accompany her all the way until her drugs made her sleepy, and left her house, twenty minutes drive from mine.

It was half an hour late to pick up the Western Union, but I am very grateful that we still have approximately USD 60 and a sack of cat food, though I will have to make sure I pick it up tomorrow, or the cats will be starving starting next week.

When I brought Licorice home and show his body to Frost, he just sniffed, looked at me, sighed, and be gone; but the whole afternoon he just sleep on the corner, on top of the cage, where Licorice used to sleep.

He didn't sit on the cabinet watching me doling out cat food into the bowls like he used to, but sit on the floor, where his departed counterpart used to sit.

Tomorrow half side of their blanket is going to be empty.