Mona Lisa joined The Whiskers’ Syndicate when she was just a few days old. Immediately she was caught in the middle of custody battle between Tabitha and Libby; the later won the right.
About a month later, Libby’s age and physical challenges started to kick in, and although it was me bottle feeding her, Libby started to wean Mona. It’s very early, but the way Libby was trying to do it very slowly was heart touching. Here’s a mother who knows her limitation and still thinking for the best for her child.
A new venture that I was prospecting at that time requires me to pass a very small road by the river, leading rapidly to a waterfall behind a cluster of houses, just about 20 minutes walk from my house. At the end of the road, is a cultural center infamous in the country and often visited by foreigners. Between the river and the cultural center, tiny houses with barely there amenities crammed against each other with “road” big enough for one motorbike or two people passing each other sideways. In Bandung, and most Indonesia, it’s always like that. Whenever we have big buildings, like hotels, or malls, or any attraction, there will always be a tiny alley almost hidden from sight leading to the back of the building where people live in a beehive and crumpled against each other like ants.
Going into places like that is like entering a movie scene where a character staggering into a foreign area and people will look at him/her with piercing eyes.
When I get to the river, I heard a kitten crying. It supposed to be fairly easy to find a kitten by the river, but there was none. The day was getting dark.
I peeked over the edge and find three kittens hanging on the wall of the river, a few steps away from where it would fall 8 feet down. Two black and grey tabby, one calico. Two were too weak and cold to meow, one who was on top and relatively dry keep yelling though unsure if doing so would save them or put them in another danger.
The wall is about 5 feet high. I am 5″7′. I tried laying down on the edge of the wall and reach in, but they were too deep; so I kicked my shoes off, rolled my jeans, and went into the current.
The kittens freaked out and was about to just let go of their tiny claws. So I open my jacket, tied both arm on my wrist and use it as a safety net on their other side when I myself struggle to hold off against the current.
One got carried away when I grab the calico and sent it up. It got stuck in my jacket. I grab it the second and throw it up as well. I helped the strongest and the driest the last because if I grab it first, it will run away when it got to the top and there goes safety.
Walking uphill with three wet kittens helped me stay warm. If people ask why I carry my shoes and all, I told them I slipped, but no one care here. So they just spat their curiosity out and walk away with any available answer.
The tabby who got stuck in my jacket died three days later. The one who cried and supposedly stronger, died two weeks afterwards, but the calico bonded with Mona. They are just about 6 weeks old and of the same size.
And it was Mona who rally for her. The went everywhere together and do anything together like they were born together. Mona has more patches, she has more white. So I call her Wina, White Mona. It is also how Japanese pronounced “winner”. Mona was relatively healthy, Wina has very bad URI; but separate them and both got sick.
The night Mona was about to cross, it’s Wina rallying for her. She was always by Mona’s side. They snuggle together, they lick each other and Wina see Mona off.
At the end, it’s just Wina; and she did not expected to live too much longer because her URI seems to penetrate her cell. Nothing can cure her. But behind the vets’ back I took my chances and give her Clavamox for one week, then switch to Doxycycline for one week, then back to Clavamox, then Doxy again. Plus the supplements regime and transfer factor. On better financial days, Physilium Husk, Flaxseed, Turmeric, Brand’s Essence of Chicken with American Ginseng.
Three months later her eyes start to dry up. She is still sneezing from time to time, especially when it’s cold. I reduced her antibiotics from every day to four days a week to three days and now just twice a week, still switching every other week.
I put her back to antibiotics every day when virus outbreak swiped through the hillside and amp up the vitamins and supplements. I am glad she seems to put up with it and walk out a survivor once again.
I know I don’t have to make it so hard, but she is Wina. She is winner. She is a sister Mona picked with her own paws and lift off the brink of death. She is a sibling Mona left as a memento of her own life.
She is a testimony of the plight of obscure street animals across Bandung and the evidence of the power of collective generosity and love of The Whiskers’ Syndicate’s surrogate everywhere.
She is the reminder that although it’s only a speck of light, hope should never die.