Once upon a time, I read about some people try to rescue others who were pinned inside their car when it crashed. At other time, I read about a bunch of strangers, passers-by, flip a tumbling bus away from a pregnant lady who was about to be flattened when a traffic accident happened just seconds before.
It’s more dramatic – though less real – if I saw those on the movie, but I always admire the sudden burst of heroism that brings back some faith in humanity, though only momentarily. I couldn’t help but imagine how those people, both the saviours and the saved when that happened, and what effect does the event carry upon them, how the moment changed their lives, and those around them.
I wondered if, in my lifetime, such event will come to pass me, though of course, I would brush those thoughts as far away as soon as possible, though perhaps not soon enough, because apparently someone in heaven heard it first.
On any given day, that fated road will look like this:
At the left side of the motorcycle, behind the trees is the one and only Hyatt Hotel Bandung. Next to it is one of the largest mall in town, while across the street on at the right side behind those cars is an army base. Five minutes walk through that road and you will find the magnificent, mayor’s office.
It’s a fancy road, obviously, but like many other street in this resort town, it has no street light. The roadside of a five star hotel and a large army base near mayor’s office doesn’t have street light. It doesn’t have a decent pedestrian either, so we have to walk very close to the cars, or chances are, someone hit you and leave you by because you walk on the street instead of the pedestrian.
Which made of dirt, by the way. So when it’s cloudy night, you’d practice to be a blind man, and when it rains, you practice roller skate on the mud while praying the rosary that you won’t land on your rear.
My night there is a little different. It was raining, and it’s pitch dark except for occasional light from passing cars or motorbikes. I try to walk as carefully as possible by holding on the side of those parking cars, and when I touched a grey metallic Honda Freed, it meows.
I stopped for a while. It was dark and late, and I need to go home before the last public transport passed and I have to walk home alone. A lot of people on the street (chauffeurs, side walk food stall merchant, illegal parking man, or common street punks) used a cat meow or puppy scampers as their cell phone ring tone, often to tease girls (by sounding it under their butt), so I convinced myself that it probably someone teasing a chick, and move on.
But the car meows again, and I am pretty sure that car didn’t use a cat meow as burglar alarm. I walked back and stand by the car’s side, and this time, is convinced that some real cat is stuck somewhere around the car.
I tried using my cell phone as a light to peek inside, but there’s no cat in there. I walk around it and the meow stopped, but as soon as I passed the front it started to meow again.
It dawned on me by then, that I most likely has to peek under the car, but I need someone to watch over me and warn the passing vehicle not to run over me, but although two illegal parking men saw me and – from the look on their eyes – know what I am up to, they just giggle while watching me look around for some more reliable partner in crime.
I decided to go over to the muddy pedestrian and go down on my knee, again, using my cell phone as flash light. Between the low set car and the street, I saw a wisp of white and yellow hair slowly curled upward, vanishing into the car’s engine.
Taking a deep breath, I just wish I didn’t see what I thought I see. I mean, how many people hit their car before going in and turn on their wheeler? Maybe only one out of a million people in Bandung will do that, considering hundreds of tiny news filler in the daily paper talking about X car grinding Y animal and splattered the remains on the street while the driver was busy texting on their IPhone while driving and have to be stopped by ten people to ever notice that something is going hellishly wrong with their vehicle.
A parking man approached and talked to me, as I still sit on my knee, “The cat?”
The? That means he was aware that there’s a cat around the car before but do nothing about it.
I nodded anyway.
“It’s been there crying, since dusk”, he said again.
Dusk was 3 hours ago.
“You wanna pick that kitten? White and yellow, this big” he showed me his hand.
“Yeah but I have to crawl under there to retrieve it” I am sure the owner of the car won’t appreciate their fun in the mall, or hotel, being cut by a car call, and about a street kitten sneaking into the engine.
“You sure fit in there, I am too big” that man laughed. His eyes glinted with the prospect of watching a woman with jeans crawling on her tummy under his crotch.
“You sure are, haha” I was trying to make my short laugh as despising as possible.
But I crawl under there anyway, while watching the man’s leg. I am preparing to go out of there as soon as his leg moved away; but when I am halfway in there, the car start rocking hard. It’s low set didn’t leave plenty of room for me and the lower part of the engine hit my head several time.
Standing on the street, the parking man is rocking the car while laughing out loud. “Did the pussy go up or down?” he asked. He used just the exact word in Indonesian. “Pussy” if you know what I am talking about.
What I saw in that chaos, was a kitten, trying to cling for life at the side of some engine (not sure which one, it’s dark), as his tiny body swings in rhyme with the car. I flashed my cell phone toward the kitten, still hit several time on the head by the car, but the glint of the kitten’s eyes is enough to give me a clue where exactly he is.
I know my leg is right beside the parking men, so I retracted it completely under the car, and kick his ankle with every bit of anger I have inside.
He swore, and after swearing some more, I saw him leaving, when the street is glowing bright.
A car is passing.
I won’t count on that man to warn the car that one of my legs are still in the open, and I can’t shift under the car fast enough before the car hit, so I hang onto a bar of steel and drag myself completely in.
The car passed, and I am still in one piece, though crumpled under a car with a frightened kitten that frantically trying to climb further into the engine.
There’s no way I am going to let my ordeal pass in vain. I am not going to crawl back out and face that parking man with nothing in my hand.
So I reached out, and grab his tail. The kitten is more frantic, and he claw on my hand all over but I am not going to let go. Thank God He didn’t make cat’s tail expandable like gecko.
I hold on that bar above me again and use it to shift closer to the kitten, and use the other hand to grab on his tummy and tug it off the engine, at all cost.
It fell right onto my face.
It’s closer for me to shift to the pedestrian and get out from there than back on the street. Besides, I won’t know when a car will pass or some party maniacs stomp all over me.
I got out from the muddy pedestrian, with the cat in one hand and mud on the other, as well as everywhere, including my hair.
The funny thing is? As soon as I hold him close to me, he fell silent. I saw him watching me with a big, round terrified eyes, but he fell silent.
I push him inside my jacket, stand up, and start walking. I forgot I was on my way to get some food, though I doubt anyone want to sell their food to a muddy woman. I’d be lucky if people won’t think of me as a crazy man.
Gathering my courage, I walked to the nearby mall, with a kitten inside my jacket. As expected, the security tried to stand on my way, but I told him I fell from my motorcycle because it’s dark and slippery, and if possible, I want to use the (paid) toilet inside the mall to clean myself.
He made some way, and I rushed to the nearest toilet.
So that’s how the kitten earned his name: Freed.
I had Estebel still nursing at that time, but I intended to hand raise the kitten because it’s older than Estebel’s and I am not sure she wants a stranger, but Freed took over from there.
I don’t know how he got up there, but he leaned on resting Estebel and they chattered for a good two hours. I was eavesdropping, of course, but I still didn’t have any idea what they are talking about but some purrs and short meow.
The next day Freed got himself bourne identity:
He become part of the Whiskers’ Syndicate as if he was born into us no other way.
I still hold a grudge for Honda to ever make a car so lowly set, though I know Indonesian worshipped Toyota Alphard (hence the other manufacturer made cars that look like it), but just in case heaven is still listening, I don’t wish to crawl under a car to retrieve a cat ever again.
A Hollywood thriller doesn’t always need a sequel.