20800137_695188420678896_3520870748896873240_nI passed that lil box of strawberries for the third time; and my mouth was not less watery than the first time when I saw them the first, about three hours prior.
Those red, bespeckled little mounds. with green wisp on top, in five rows and three columns, two dollars a box; glistening. And my mind showed me the bitten one, and whispers the clapping sound my lips would have made as I took a bite. And my tongue can feel that sweet drops of juice bleeding through the tear of its flesh, dripping slowly into my throat.
If years before someone asked what is my favorite fruit, the answer would be orange. Orange and the whole extended family. American Sunkist, Egypt Navel, Australian Riverland, Indonesia’s own Baby Pacitan, lemon, lime, grapefruit, mmmmm.
After I moved to Bandung, and tasted the hillside’s most famous produce, somehow it changes. Whatever I do, whenever I am, no matter what time, I ran to strawberries. Strawberries are so cheap they literally throw it away to the street. Strawberries are everywhere I can just drop off my bike, ran inside any marketplace or supermarket, and never fail to go back out in a minute munching.
Strawberries recharges my energy. It’s addicting I wouldn’t even realize I ate a ton, and yet don’t feel weighed down. It is said by some, that it gave me that rosy glow on my cheek that no one ever saw before when I first came from my home town. Honestly I think they either lie, or they don’t know what they are talking about. That rosy cheek, I know, came from hours upon hours of my bike riding across town, with two boxes, fourty eight pouches of Whiskas day or night, giving life extension to those in need behind the bushes, by the street, in dry sewer, forlorn in the parks.
I cross that alley again, and saw that box of strawberries the fourth time.
The only reason I have not yet grab one, like I always did, was that now, about ten years later, I have already given up to biking across the mountainside, first because my physical condition deteriorate so much I should cut my time riding, second because my bike, as old as my service to the less fortunate in town, is designed for city tour and light mountain ride. It will not stand the rock and stony side further to the country without breaking its fork and kill me in process. Now I spend humongous amount of money to buy skechers shoes and walk with the same fourty eight pouches of Whiskas everywhere. I do not eat as much as I used to, and honestly, I don’t think I will ever have the chance to stop and enjoy it.
But this time, I gave in. I took that box of red jewels carefully and carry it like a precious stone to the cashier.
When I got home, Cali burst out of the front door like usual. He grows to be a real Californian; carefree and bouncy, though his name does not come from the state. He is so fast no one barely seen him when he runs; but that’s the problem. If I let him slip at midnight and get him back at dawn, it won’t be a problem. During the day? with all of those cars and bikes and motorcycle whatever?
I put down my bag of strawberries and run as fast as I can before he slipped out from under the fence, literally in two seconds.
I came inside with him wiggling and humming in protest and it didn’t occur to me that I left my strawberries on the front porch until I got to the kitchen.
So I throw Cali to the cattery, slam the door in front of his face and go back out to pick my fruit. I brought them in, took a peek on it’s beautiful plastic bed, and slowly lift one corner of the lid with tongue on my cheek, when I heard meows from inside my room.
I put my strawberries down on top of the fridge, and walked to the door that produced four tiny furballs rolling out, angry that I came home late.
I listened to their petition, pick up their plate, fix them food, and be forgiven.
I took a gulp of drink, see the clock, and understand that I have exactly thirty seven minutes to feed everyone before going back home and take the wrath of the whole Bast minions.
I opened my fridge, throw the box of strawberries inside, and feed the cats.
It took me more than that exact 37 minutes, eventually, because I had to refill two buckets of water that somehow was flipped over, dry the spilled water, give Braille some chin rub, and Tango some pats. On my way Tao tripped me over, Simba scratch with full claw stretch and add holes on my shirt, but that was after I realized it’s time to open new bags of cat food.
Fine then. I go back in, put on my jacket, swing my bag on, and off to the colony.
I got there about ten minutes before eight, when the restaurant will be closed. I have managed to get the cats to gather to the house next door to the restaurant to feed them, but I still have to wait for it to be closed so no one will hear me clapping and calling.
I would spend some time with them, and then with the others around the park, and play hide and seek with a little, two months old black kitten, puffy long hair and a pair of wide round eyes while being watched by the park goers, usually teens in love, and produce some sort of stand up comedy. The little kitten’s mother, a gray and black tabby with white feet, will watch from afar. I don’t know if she giggles too or not, but she didn’t come and claw me, so that means I am fine.
Got home at about eleven. I dropped my bag, change my clothes, and be Cinderella again. I took my scoopers and start cleaning the litter box. Two in the inside, ten at the outside. Then I haul all the cat waste out, Refill the boxes where necessary, pick up all ninety food bowl and wash it.
I turned off the light on the cattery at about twelve past midnight, and sweep the floor, mop them, change the dirty mats and blankets, and watch my laundry basket filled in three seconds. Cali is already angry and he won’t even wait for one breath before blasting off into the wild to have his night marathon. That little guy. He eats a ton every day and he spend all the energy bouncing like pin ball all over the complex within twenty minutes.
By the time I dry and hang the mop, it was about three minutes to two. Of course I chat with Christine Alice in between mopping. All the while, Nevaeh and Ghost lay side by side, each with their own ringer dripping.
Then it’s time to chase the little fur trolls. One hide behind the fridge, the other under it. One other is smart and he slipped behind Ghost’s bed at the corner of the livingroom.
All of them takes about ten minutes or more for medicine, especially the one that needs metronidazole (oh yeah!)
Then I think about my strawberries, but it’s over two a.m. in the morning and I don’t feel like stuffing anything because I have to start in one and a half hour.
I went into my room, plug my phone, and sleep.
I jumped out of my bed exactly one and a half hour later; but it’s already late. I rushed out, drag Cali back in from the street, and water the plants. I have donated most of them because I can no longer keep up with the garden and left with the useless, though they are still all pretty.
I turned off the light, pick up all the off-side placement of poops, and clean the floor where necessary. The fur trolls came and ask for breakfast. They beat the early bird by forty minutes.
I sneaked outside where the bigger cats still doze at their cattery, and feed the fishes. They need energy to entertain ninety cats all day long.
I went back in and check on Nevaeh (geriatric) and Ghost. The kittens by now would be licking their paws. Some already spend the day playing.
I removed their plate, look at the clock, and I realized I am two hours late to post if I am to catch the Americans, but I went anyway.
Typing three lines, Maji woke up and pick a fight with Super Junior. I stood up, go to the cattery and tell them off.
I went back in, sat down, and the moment my butt touched down, El Nino is itching for morning wrestle with Sports.
And then it will be Kansai got bullied by who knows which cat because everyone went away when I got to the back. I can’t go as fast because kittens are running around in the kitchen and I don’t want to kill anyone myself included.
All of those commotion took one hour. I’d better be quick.
I typed like crazy, I mean, well, I make my living this way and I am a writer so 120 words per 30 seconds is not too much of a world records. Besides, I am in a pinch.
Just when I was about to load the picture, internet went spotty.
Wait for ten minutes.
Upload done, the internet went spotty again, cannot post, wait fifteen minutes swearing at the modem.
Post done, now pin it, and my old laptop lagged and lagged and lagged into full stop with that dang sand clock flipping to no end.
But you know, I am still grateful at least it’s not the cat pressing “delete” or anything that would wipe off all my text, like often happen in alternate to whatever is happening now.
Restart the computer, twenty minutes.
By the time I am done, it’s ten a.m. It’s near midnight in USA and a lot of my American donor went to bed and miss my post.
Well, at least those in Britain and Europe have just started so I am probably fine.
I took a deep breath, do the rest of the update, and shut down the computer.
I remembered my strawberries. I think those will be yummy with granola and yogurt.
But then, I look at the online marketplace and see that I have more orders than yesterday and one or two of them are rush order. So I went to my studio, wrestle with Kaka or Vera or Spots and keep them out.
Wrap my stuffs. Change my clothes, lather sunscreen on my unwashed face and be gone.
While I am out, I remembered my strawberries, If I just eat salad on my way home from the courier (it’s lunch anyway and many people remind me to have some food) that will be a perfect desert, With granola and yogurt.
So I buy salad, feed a few street cats on my way home, and got to the front door at about three p.m.
My neighbor caught up and tell me what happened in the neighborhood, and what will be required from us residents. Hanshin and the outdoor cats waits for their thank you gifts (for welcoming me home) and two more whiskas pouches. Sierra is special because she is the one who taught the cats where to sit, where to stand, and how to meow happily as soon as I got down from my vehicle.
I went straight in, drop my bag, change my clothes, got out, and clean the litter boxes. Clean the off-side placement of smelly poo, check on the water bucket, refill the dry food dispenser for the kittens, make my bed. Give Ghost and whoever need it vitamins, dose of antibiotics when necessary, clean up the messy kittens, chasing Julia because she is not quite healed from URI yet but already refused medicine.
At the very long end, Thelma watching me from the top of air purifier, her favorite place. She is the most forgotten cat in the Whiskers’ Syndicate because she is the most understanding and the least demanding of all.
So I spent half an hour with her.
It’s five pm. I have two hours. What do I do?
I checked my emails and send replies, as required. I checked facebook and interact with everyone, as required, I checked paypal, update my finances, check on cat food stock, check on my shop stock, make notes on what to buy, can food need to be delivered by seven or else I have to pick it up myself the next morning.
Finish at ten past six pm. I doled out dinner. Turn on the lights, and go to the fridge for my strawberries.
But Daisy vomited.
I closed the fridge and tend to her. It seems like her gastritis flared up, so I better give her the antacid so she can still enjoy dinner later.
Then it’s time for the colony again.
By the time I got back home, it’s already eleven, and getting things done, It’s way past midnight.
I am tired and tomorrow is a morning shift, so I better call it the day because it’s over anyway.
The next morning I managed to post thirty minutes earlier. It doesn’t matter because I supposed to post four hours prior, but well, I haven’t found my clone yet.
And then I go to work.
Three days later, I peeked on my fridge. I forgot to buy food so my scavenging habit took over.
I found my box of strawberries in the chiller, black and blue.
“Oh God, when did I bought this?”
It doesn’t matter.
I step on my trash bin pedal and throw the whole box in.
Then I made a mental note to self “Don’t be so extravagant. People died hungry every day and you are wasting food. No strawberries if you can’t finish it before it rot, No salads, nothing. No trashing food period”
And then I went on cleaning the house, and finish at two a.m. the next morning.
~ Josie

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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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