Will of Fire

Let me tell you a secret.

We’ve been trying to raise USD 5,600 since December, and despite millions of stories over the internet that people raise hundred of thousands of Dollars within one day, we are still less than halfway there well into January, despite exhausting every effort we can think of.

So, putting USD 3,000 in Pitch in is probably too much for people to bear; and when they think it’s too much, they skip the game, and find something else easier to attain. To show that three thousand Dollars is indeed attainable, and to make sure we can start rebuilding our sanctuary by February, our friend Lori divided it into the remaining days of January and come up with USD 250/day. I trusted her fully, and so let the math escape me.

In light of her generosity, our friend Susan Edwards had offered to match USD 100 donation last Friday (Saturday my time), which ease the burden a lot because we practically only need to raise half the amount of our daily goal. It means a lot for us, especially because the day before, we didn’t earn anything. Nothing. It’s zero all day long.

That same day, I kind of figure out that I blew my chance of hiring a Squarespace developer who can help with the new website, owing to my plummeting self worth and confidence, given she just ignore me and never again replied my email after she herself offered some schedule to chat online to discuss about what is best for the Syndicate’s website.

Unfortunately, until a few hours before midnight PST, the latest time zone in USA, we are not even half where we want to, and I start wondering if we are going to make it. It’s raining the whole day for 2 days that day, and while I was exhausted for trying to lift tons of sandbag with one and a half hands (my right wrist is bad), and try to keep water away from the house, ending up staying awake and working for more than 38 hours already, I still try to use what was left of my brain that is still functioning to rally for help.

Until the last two hours, we are USD 30 short of meeting the challenge. I know my chances are grim, but I tried anyway. It’s not over until the fat lady sing.

I have got that one burst of joy when one friend donated USD 20 less than an hour before midnight PST (thank you Belle!).

Afterwards, it’s over. People are sleeping, or elsewhere enjoying their weekend, when the remaining hope that I cling for my life start to crumble.

Even when offered to do only half the effort, we cannot make it.

Ten minutes later, there’s nothing left of my confidence, or hope.

I failed. Ten more dollars, and I failed. We’re dead on our last step before finish line, and as I saw Elf’s round eyes watching me on the rim of the bed, I kind of lost of how to answer his telepathic question.

And then it’s dark.

I woke up to Elf crying on top of my arm, and Ami tugging my ear, something he always does if I didn’t wake up after the alarm stop ringing. Looking through my painful eyes, I saw the door of my room flung open and some of the cats who doesn’t stay in the cage were lining up staring at me with wonder in their eyes. My door doesn’t have any handles on it, so it can’t be locked. It can be closed, but there is one mobster: Estebel, who can see past the mental barrier of a shut door, and use her nose to push it bit by bit until it’s opened.

Nice team work everyone. You’ll get extra food for that.

I noticed that it’s still raining outside, everything is grey. I lazily turned over on my bed, but I can’t feel anything. I am blank.

I stand up, walk through the cats, feed them, clean litter boxes, fill water bowl, clean the house, and find myself, who knows how long, staring blankly holding the window.

When I figured out what to do with the window, I walked in, straight to the room, close the door, sit on the bed, and stare blankly, trying to figure out what to do.  I read Susan’s message to tell everyone that anonymous donor decide to fill in the 10, and sent me 110.

I do what she said, but then, nothing more. There is this passing ray of gratitude for her wisdom to waive the USD 10, though it didn’t change the fact that I failed. I did everything, but still, I failed.

And then I am back on the blank. I did not feel anything. I am not tired, I am not sleepy, I am not hungry, I am not thirsty, I do not feel hate, or anger, or love, or hope, or sadness, nothing. Like the constant rain and the perpetual greyness outside, I am zombified for the rest of the day, with the only emotions I felt were devastation, dejection, resentment, guilt, and a huge boulder with a taste of failure. When some of the cats are fighting I went outside, approach them, pet them, but I don’t feel anything. I know the cats were looking at me curiously because I am different, but I just turn away, back to my room, sitting on the same spot and stare blankly toward the empty, white wall of my room.

Among those time, my mind was taken to the past when I was still a writer for MultiMedia RolePlaying Game forum. We were four, and I usually wrote the story board and profiling the characters, with ideas from the other three. One of them is a boy from California who matched me so well, that we are clicked from week one although we have not yet known each other that much. As we work together I learned that, and it taken my breath knowing, that he was still 13, while I was on my mid twenties.

He was the middle child of three, all boys, of a prominent leader of USA’s largest chemical company. His parents were busy all day, and he is often alone at home, which is why he can spend so many times in the internet, and is much more mature despite his age. I mean, seriously, we are free to talk about nano technology from many different point of view like we are a pair of scientists in some lab.

Soon our relationship expanded from merely team mate, as we chat all day long and I use the time to help him with homework, sandwich, salads, and girls. Those were my happiest moments after I lost my father.

One of our favourite story, among a few, is an adventure of a “dead last” and “outcast” ninja in his class, who strive for acknowledgement and respect from his peers. He went as far as to make this goal his “Will Of Fire” a concept that give him strength to continue fighting against all odds, building willpower and strength of character.

With him graduating and into Senior High, the other two members went to college and registered with USAF,  I moved to Bandung and started The Whiskers’ Syndicate, and following an unfortunate event, the group was eventually (amicably) disbanded as we walk our separate ways through the path of life.

Still, I cannot come to think of anything, or feel anything, though  I start to question if each of us, especially me, still keep that same “Will of Fire” or if that fire (most likely) have disappeared following my consecutive failure in defending The Whiskers’ Syndicate, something that have an immense value for me. As I wander around the house hoping to find something to break my numbness and spark my interest, I always find myself back on the same spot, sitting on my bed, staring blankly to the empty, white wall of my room,  where a demon came and sit beside me to tell me about whatever I felt: abandoned, failed, thrown away, nothing. It went on to show me that in the place I am going, there is only the gritting pain of loneliness, the coldness of desperation, the soreness of calling out to deaf ears, the degradation of trying to grab someone’s hand, anyone, only to be pushed away like a disease, the silence of isolation.

It went on to tell me that I am not loved, citing evidence that in fact, none of the people I called “friends” are there for me at the moment. None of them even realize that I am not present. Then it told me that soon the community will fail me and throw me away, even though I work hard to hold it up with my two hands, given that although I try to be courteous, honest, humble, and kind, people still treat me like garbage.

Do unto others, what thy want others to do unto thee (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)

is a factual bull shit.

It said that if God really loves me, as much as I love Him, He would have answered my faith and will not let all those cats I love so much suffer for so long.

That night I remembered part of a song that was famous long ago:

Objects in the rear view mirror appear closer than they are

The next day I saw Constantine.


Constantine is a senior cat that I found lying on the street awaiting his death from losing a fight last year. He is so old he can’t sit, stand or walk straight. He walks almost sideways, like a crab. His spine bent to one side, his body frail, and he walks slower than a turtle.

Every time I put the food bowl on the floor, all of the cats went flying trying to get the first bite. Constantine will walk slowly, leaning to the side wall along the backyard to the cattery, struggled to climb up, and find whatever left by the younger, faster, stronger cats.

Sometimes he gets something, sometimes he doesn’t. When he didn’t find anything left he will struggle to go down, walk painfully slowly back to the house, sit under the window, waiting for my head to poke up, and then he will open his mouth and let out his coarse, dried up, ugly meow, asking for food.

And yet, even when I try to hold him down and give him his own bowl so he doesn’t have to go through the ordeal, he walks anyway. He’d sniff from one bowl to another, risking some impudent younger cat clawing on his nose, and when one does, he walk over to the other.

When he finally sure there isn’t any left, he’ll go back to the bowl I set aside for him, if it’s not already finished by someone else. Then he’ll go through his window ritual.

He is one of the cats I am most proud of. He is old, battered, and beaten, yet holds his pride high enough to fetch his own food, whether or not he is going to get one.

It is that golden in him that make me give the name of my favourite (Marvel) character: Constantine.

I turned away, walk into my room, sit on the same spot and staring blankly at the empty white wall inside my room.

So, maybe, I will try once more. There is no guarantee that I will get the pot of gold at the other side. Maybe I will just find some crumb, and go back home hungry, but I guess, perhaps, when that happen, I can just do that window ritual, just in case there’s some fish falling from there.

Just in case, but who knows. It’s not over until the fat lady sing; and there’s no other lady in this house so…


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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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