The prayers rally had begun. People are rushing home with their motorcycles, or cars, weaving a random mess on the main street from my house. The impatient honking, the urging zooms, the careless turning.
It will be the same any given day, but it’s worse when people just want to get ready to party.
At the break of dawn tomorrow, when all this chaotic noises will fall silent, a cursed day will be upon us, upon me, at the very least.
Literally across the town, and around this merciless country, the floor of every mosque will be bathed with blood from animal sacrifice. The pure, light air of the hillside will be temporarily replaced by the suffocating stench of bloody iron, mixed with the sickening odour of raw flesh, and then, burning coal, and after that, barbecues.
The ritual supposed to revoke within human heart, the spirit of sharing with the less-than-have, and by doing so, flush the sins of greed out of ourselves and purify our heart in the face of God.
Somewhere in time, however, the ritual shifted into get together time for families, and then it drifted further into barbecue party day. People still brought in their goat, or cow, but those who purchased the sacrifice also waited in line, at the very front, choosing the best parts of the animals that they want, go home with plastic bag stained with blood, where their wives and children awaits with seasoning and watery mouth, impatient to start the joy. Leaving the worst part for the less-than-have. They are of lesser degree, they deserve the less.
According to the newspapers, or internet, or whatever channel people are watching or listening, every year, those less-than-have have to push and squeeze each other to get their rightful share, running from mosque to mosque to get their prize, and growing number of those are crushed to their death among the pile of men trying to get hold of a barbecue party, just for that one day in a year.
My mind wanders for a minute as I joined the rush on the street heading home, about what kind of God that demands that the floors of his house be bathed with blood, but only for a minute.
Because really, I should get myself ready with my own sacrifice. It’s long weekend, and I only have two sheets of five thousand Rupiahs (about half a USD) in my pocket and a few small changes. If I am being a good girl and sacrifice some dinners I might hold on until Wednesday, when working day restarted and I can show up for some side job to keep food on the table. Meanwhile, I just need to save money by walking half an hour uphill in the cold wind so I don’t have to pay some bike taxi to get home.
And then in the corner of my eye I saw a cat crouching in front of a man selling traditional fried chicken, his body frail and seemingly so sick, trying to beg silently for a piece of meal, when the man leaning defiantly on his big motorcycle with one leg crossed the other, arrogantly puffed smoke from his cigarette as he ignorantly watching his cell phone, as if nothing exist between his world and this.
I am not suppose to look; and even if I see it anyway I suppose to ignore it. Every day, hundreds of street animals died, and another one shouldn’t be no different.
My house is full. One more drop, and the cup will spill. The rain already come, but my medicine bag is still mostly empty. Indonesian Rupiah against US Dollar plummeted, and after years of Pro Plan for the cats, I can no longer afford to pay over half a million Rupiah for a sack of cat food that lasted only 2 days and a half. The government keep saying that Indonesia is safe, safe, safe. We are strong, strong, and rich, but inflation is already 10% down below their thrones and fancy cars, and I can’t be sure if it will not be 15% or more by the end of this year, for which they will find another reason to blame.
There are about 15 cats waiting in line to be spayed or neutered before they start yowling, spraying and sitting on top of each other and brings an influx of kittens into my already overflowing backyard, and Whiskers’ Syndicate shall come down into chaos.
One cat overlooked is OK. One cat sacrificed for the sake of forty, it’s OK.
But even as I keep telling myself it’s OK to just pass, my legs made their U turn and in a few minutes I am already behind the crouched cat. The man had moved somewhere nearer to his fried chicken stall, leaving the crooked beggar in its current position.
You see? I am not wrong. For that man, nothing exists between his big motorbike and his damned cell phone, a pride of Indonesian man.
When I lift him up by his armpit the cat yowled; but his yowled a sore voice, far away to resemble a meow. His body is stiff out of cold,and his skin is hard with crust. His belly is round and big, but his body is only bone and skin. Every other breath I heard him struggling to draw some air into his lung.
As I carry him inside my jacket, I could feel he tried to resist, but too tired to struggle. It doesn’t take long before he just stay still, probably trying to feel the warmth that he almost forgot. I ended up using one sheet of those five thousands Rupiahs to hire a bike taxi and get me uphill faster.
When got home, I perched him on top of the table and give him another sacrifice. A bowl full of cooked minced beef and chicken with scrambled egg for the nursing ladies. Tomorrow I will use the last sheet of five thousand Rupiah to get the ladies another portion.
He eat like the devil.
I touched his skin, but he care only of the warm slur in the bowl that is a silver platter perhaps this only time in his entire life. I pinched his scruff but it didn’t come back down.
He is dehydrated, and even a raisin still look better than his chapped ears and wrinkling neck. I grabbed the fluid bag and get him ready for a subcutaneous fluid. I know he won’t care as much if something stings a little behind him, so I pinch away and push the needle.
I am right again. He didn’t care. He didn’t care even when I have to keep pinching for a while to make way for the fluid to come in, as his skin stick together in the absence of natural fluid.
My fluid bag is half empty in minutes. It dripped like rain.
Between his snort and sneeze he just gobble down his meat. I decided that since his sinus is so bad I took antibiotic first instead of de-wormer, and squirt it into his bowl. Again, he didn’t care, but he eat so greedily that he ended up throwing half of his stomach a few minutes later, including the medicine.
It is obvious that there will be no use trying to tell him not to eat so fast, so I just give him some more food, one spoon at the time, adding softened dry food, and re done the medicine.
He is into nebulizer next. When he’s done, green slime is oozing from his nose, but that’s not what made me shudder.
His face; his droopy, tired eyes, his crooked nose, his half ridden mouth cavity, his charred ear. The remaining two fangs that are in his lower jaw protrudes out in an oblique angle to end almost right under his nose.
And then, his crusty skin disease. His dried, wrinkled skin, his dandruff, the loose skin flakes dangling on his coarse fur, his discoloured coat, semi bald tail, his crooked back.
I saw worse, but it’s still hard not to gulp at such grotesque view that is now looking back at me, trying to figure what comes next.
Perhaps he went through so much already that nothing really matters. Perhaps he walk through the hell and back again that nothing really surprised or scared him.
But to live to such age, to hang on just another day, to keep putting one of his leg in front of the other, and go on living, he must have made a lot of sacrifices.
Until he can take none other, and give in to beg for a piece of recognizance, though from a wrong man.
Which make his guardian angel hit his forehead and instead, guide the right person to pick him up, and share him her sacrifices.