The Old Man

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I am posting late again, but this time for a good reason – at least better than all of these cats going circus to distract me.

Every time I got tuna for the cats, I always dropped by the lady who sells cooked food at the corner.

There was a yellow kitten there, sick and dying, whom I picked up and brought to the vet. When he heals, I returned him where I found him, and come and feed him everyday.

The food seller lady was ignorant at first. She just watch me feed the kitten. Sometimes, she would try to join me and give the cat cooked chicken bone. I appreciate her gesture, but politely told her that cooked chicken bone is dangerous for cats.

Eventually, after a very bad rainy season and an outbreak through the whole town, the food lady took the cat in. She keeps telling me that the cat can’t stay and that he has to be out again by night fall and all, but she feed him properly and let her kids play with him.

The once dying kitten now has a name: Tito.

One day when I bought food from the woman for an old homeless beggar across the intersection, I saw an old cat sitting by, head hung low, ears twitches, eyes closed. It must be painful to endure scabies so bad his whole body turned raw.

I give the old cat, as well as Tito some of my chunk tuna, and came back in the afternoon with a tube of revolution.

The lady said he was once belong to an elderly woman who lives in the alley behind. The woman died, and he was thrown on the street because no one wants to take care of him.

Besides, the cat has no manner. He chase everyone he rubs everyone he scratch everyone. He jumps on the table and take food, he ran away with people’s grocery.

“I think that is because he is hungry” I tried to counter the lady as politely as I can. For a cat that old, who have been pet since a kitten, it must be devastating to be thrown to the street with no food, clean water or shelter. I can imagine the confusion, desperation, hopelessness, and since no one seems to understand him…

His world must have crumbled and lonely.

The lady cannot keep him because she has Tito, and Tito is afraid of him because he always claw and ran away with Tito’s tuna. And Tito is the kindest cat ever.

Still, she agrees to let the old tom stays in her porch and feed him every day.

In exchange, I took him and Tito for a free neuter.

The old man recovered from his holy-crap-that’s-scary scabies sooner, he gained weight, he got vaccinated, he is healthy, chubby, white and clean.

With a snaggle tooth. The only fang that survives his seniorhood.

Everyone come to love him. The other merchants saw me turn the savage cat no one can tame to a shy and funny old cat. They too, in turn, often share their food with him. The other man who often kick him saw the wrath of the whole group of women then.

Last Saturday when I visited, the lady told me that a little girl has been dragging her dad to show him the old cat. Every morning, at the same time.

She told me she asked her dad what the girl wants and the dad told her that his daughter wanted that old cat. He promised her he would buy her a kitten, angora or persian (fake, they are all mixed breed) sold in front of the mall, but his daughter was persistent that she wants that snaggled tooth cat and nothing else.

So he let her hug the old pa, and play with him after school. The next day the girl would want to go there again and he would drove her to her old pa and let her play, hoping that kids will get over it soon and forget about it.

But the girl just keep coming.

The lady asked if it is good to ask if the man can bring the girl’s old pa home.

The story is so unusual here, I can hardly believe it. But then, Sierra was missing so I told the lady I will come back later.

I met the girl today, when she comes after school and jumped from her dad’s motorcycle, running toward her old friend. She hugs him and pat him. The lady would give her chunk tuna and she looked so happy feeding her pal.

The lady told the man that I am the one usually take care of the old cat, and that she and I would made the offer to adopt the old man.

Dad was doubtful. Compared to long hair breed, he is terribly ugly. But his daughter seems to love him genuinely.

I only asked that, if for any reason, no matter how trivial, they cannot keep the old cat anymore, they would return the old cat to this place. This market, this food stall. I promised him we would not ask anything, we will not say anything. Just don’t kick him out and lock the door.

Dad agreed.

I introduced myself to the girl and asked her if she would join me and help me choose the best basket to bring her friend home.

She came with me singing.

At least for once, a street cat has a happy ending.

~ Josie

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