The bank was just closed by the time I settle down. The nameless kitty on my foot is still busy sniffing. At one time, his eyes widened. “Unbelieveable!” that’s probably what he said. Sniffing at other spot, he looked more solemn. Sometimes he would sit for a while, eyes looking far away, as if he is thinking of unfathomable things human won’t understand.
And then the old security officer start his story.
That the very small kitten, dirty and weak, found his way into the parking lot of that bank. A very old, traditional bank offering savings and loans for small merchants in traditional markets all over the country. It’s government owned, but unlike other banks that sports high rise offices, AC, high tech, and suits for everyone, this one operated manually. With linked PC, but there’s no ATM, no mobile banking, no internet banking, no direct debit, no automatic reminder or anything. No administration fee either.
The bank was semi transparent. Sometimes it’s seen, sometimes it’s not.
What the old security officer had at that time, was rice and fish that his wife packed for him.
And then the old security officer continues:
That the little kitten stayed in his booth at night. That he came earlier in the morning so the little filthy thing won’t defecate in the booth and invited complaint, that the kitten disappear during the day when he is working, but that he felt the little kitten is never far.
That when the bank closed at 3 pm, he would show up again.
That other people know the old man was keeping the cat, but they don’t care enough, as long as no one brought problem out.
The old security officer said,
That the kitten turned cleaner, and that his yellow spots turned more and more orange, and the white of his fur is more white.
That his wife finally found out that her husband has been keeping a little friend, and that she would go out to the market to buy steamed salted fish and mix it with rice. Somehow, whenever people even just think about cat, that steamed salted fish comes to mind as its food.
And then the old security officer said,
That the cat continue to grow, that nowadays he can jump into the booth by the gate by himself, and he no longer have to come early, because the cat can also jump out of it himself and take care of his own sanitary.
That a few people came to comment how clean and pretty his cat is.
That his fur is shiny and soft like a cotton and people would love petting him, though the cat seldom let them.
That even the year gone by, the cat will still disappear during the day, and come back to him at 3 pm.
That all the year, the cat is his only friend, just like the officer is to the cat.
One day, our new mayor made an announcement.
To help people out of reach of modern bank, he will assign a certain budget for Bandung residents so that they can borrow money from the bank with zero interest, pay it back for 12 months and pay it forward by saving their money there.
If one is out of college and they don’t have capital to start their own business, they can put their school certificate as collateral to get a loan, zero interest, pay it in a year. All the bank ask is a feasibility study.
So the semi transparent, half alive bank bustled. Our mayor had death threats from loan sharks that has been gripping and choking small people for decades, but our people protect him and his legacy by shocking even our president with this: Modern bank has at least 9% NPL (Non Performing Loan), this little people bank has zero NPL.
Everyone pay their loan back, and those who made money, pay it forward by saving their money there and keep the bank alive to help others.
I did the same, and that’s how I come to know the old security officer and his cat.
When it seems like the cat sniffed all my 90 cats out of my pants and jacket, he sit in front of me, as if he is in awe.
Don’t worry, I am sure he is in awe for himself. Sniffing the whole village of cats is not a simple feat. I am in awe that he is not overwhelmed.
I pulled out a paper plate and walked out of the booth, to the other side of its wall, where people aren’t looking.
Pouring down a pocket of whiskas, the cat is again looking surprised. How I love those loud speaking eyes!
The old security looked behind me, and said:
That he had never known there are food invented just for cats.
That he wondered if, with the newly found bustle of the bank, he will afford it.
That he asked me to tear the packet only at the corner, so he can wash it and bring it to the supermarket and ask if they sell the food.
Instead I throw away the opened packet into the bin, pull out the whole other dozen new one, and gave it to him.
With explanation about the difference between rice and fish and Whiskas (without vilifying either), how much is whiskas and where he can get discount nearby.
And with a request that I may borrow his cat for one or two days “To animal doctor and secure the cat future”
I can spend a million years explaining what neutering is to the old man and he would never understand, but I can explain planned parenthood when it happened and he can see all the benefit for himself.
Then the old security officer said
He keeps the bag of whiskas pouches as if it is diamond.
I told him, literally, in Indonesian
That the pleasure is mine, and that my gratefulness is immense.
Help me so I can help more like the old man and his only friend