On September 9, 2017, my dad would have been 69 years old, if he was still here.

I had a picture when he was young, with medals. The picture people will look at and then look at me and told him “She is like your clone”

Most of the time, maybe, though I have my own streak and grow up to have my own color, part of which is made of his. I have no medal; never will be, by doing what I do now, but I can’t help to wish that when people see my picture, one day, they will look at him, and told me “You are like his clone”

And yet the further I stepped into life, the further the resemblance. Like this morning when I wake up, on Sunday. The first thing I saw when I opened that curtain was the whole cattery peppered in shreds and bits of cardboard box the cats were scratching. I didn’t put the cardbox on purpose, I put the heavy duty metal shelving unit inside that box there on purpose. It was to store cats’ stuffs, and it was to provide them extra space. For play, for sleep.

I had plan for the money. My bedroom is right at the other side of neighbor’s kitchen. She is cheap and she is crappy. She did things that benefit her at the cost of others, like neglecting to put waterproofing on her side of the wall after she fix her plumbing. So my side of the wall is now damp, and it looked nasty. All the moist seeped into my white board planner and it is now bent and popped.

But I remembered how the cats were burned during the day, and froze at night, and I walked away from the masonry isle and bought the heavy duty shelves that will give them better night.

When I got home I saw Helen stepped into the big plate I used to mix kitten food in, and peed there. The litter box is clean, the sand is new, but she has that habit of finishing her meal, and pee on her bowl. I have trained her for years and years, but you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, and Helen is a cat. Humans don’t teach cat, it’s the other way around.

Besides, I remembered how much Helen had lost. Her eye, her voice, her sense of smell, her tasting buds.

I put down my jacket, pick up the plate, and wash it. Our sink broke, so I wash the plate in the bathrooom.

When I got out, it was Cali and Julia on top of the fridge rummaging through the plastic bag. There’s nothing there but a few pouches of Whiskas that I bought just so my total shopping get rounded and I earn extra points. But Cali is a barrel. On his way up he must have been kicking some of those pouches off.

But I remember how he was put in a sack with three others and dumped into a sand pit three storey high.

I heard a growl from living room. It must be Bloody Mary. She knows that pouch is food, even though she can’t smell food from there. And she also know that if she tear that pouch, there will be food.

I saw her under the table, and when I squatted for reprimand Bianca ran behind me and learn from her buddy and commit her clime behind the fridge.

So I have to mop the floor, and of course, the hard to reach behind the fridge.

I have the kitten food they like always ready, and they had to tore down a pouch of whiskas and spatter all the juice everywhere.

But I remembered how filthy and tore down Bloody Mary once, and when she tried to lick drips of blood off a fish merchant by the street, she got the whole bucket of fish gut and whatever dumped on her that she was swamped and drowned. I remember how cursed Bianca and her sister once, playing alone in the garden of an army general. They have no food and they have no roof and they have no mother. They have bacteria and they have virus. Her sister did not survive, and although she is one year old, Bianca to everyone is four months and she will never grow anymore.

I should have cleaned the fish tank to guarantee fresh transmission of Netfish channel but I was busy on Friday. Today then, before algae blow the tank all green.

I took the plastic bag filled with fiber filter, and a new airstone in replacement of one gnawed to pieces by Simba. Laid them on the counter, get my basket, and start cleaning.

Siphoning the water out, and let it flow into the bucket. Creme is six kilograms (12 lbs) cat and she jumped to the lid of the fish tank.

She ran off when I screamed “Hey!” but what is important is that the half empty tank was not tipped over, although the drift wood toppled over and everything inside shook like tsunami.

But I remembered how she was locked inside egg crate nailed on all six sides with five kittens and rolled down to the middle of the street by the traditional market. She was lucky a merchant dragged that crate to the side before a large truck crush it to pieces, but not for long, she lost all her kittens.

Fine. I fix it then, let the fish and the shrimps calm down, and go wash the filter canister.

With clean canister I went to the bag with filter and saw a pond of yellow liquid dripping to the floor. Pascal sat on that bag just a few minutes before though now he is sitting next to the makeshift pool, waving his tail. His eyes are always clear and innocent.

I drained the swamp, but pascal must have tore a hole on that plastic when he scratches before peeing, and pee went into the bag. Pee went into the fiber filter, pee went into ceramic ring, pee went into activated carbon bag and it’s black everywhere and it smell like yuck.

I throw away brand news stuffs worth USD 40 in three minutes. But then I remembered how Pascal ran away from a cruel animal seller by the roadside and escape slow painful death and how he hugged my legs in the first month after his freedom like koala on the tree, so I just wash the old filter and change it on Monday when I got out.

When I was busy with fungus and algae and everything, Freed jumped into the litter box and use the whole row of it for exercise. The litter was brand new so it’s light and three of them toppled upside down. He looked at me, I looked at him and he ran off but without remorse.

So which one I should do now? finish cleaning aquarium first then the litter, risking the cats poo on the pile of stray litter sand, or fix the litter box first, risking all sort of menace the cats might think of toward the aquarium?

When I was thinking I heard the sound of spraying grain hitting metal.

I looked into the cage. When Sandy finish eating, she always kick her food bowl straight into the litter box below, with few kibbles left if she likes the food, with the whole portion of kibbles if she doesn’t like it.

I remembered how Freed got stuck in an engine under the car when he was two months old, and instead of at least leaving me alone, the parking lot guy was trying sexual harassment the trump mouth way as I crawl my way under the car.

I remembered how Sandy almost died by the road side.

And when I turn the other way I saw Neo plays around with Artemis, bopping on top of blanket he dragged down from the shelves and trickle trickle trickle.

I also heard some pot falling to the floor inside the house.

When I stand on one end of the cattery with dripping brush, happy for the clean cattery, right at the opposite end there is a pool of pee and a pile of poo.

I sat on the short stool the cats use to watch their channel in silence.

I gave up my courses, I gave up fancy clothing. I gave up going on restaurants, I gave up on music. I gave up on buying books and read, I gave up drawing. I gave up designing, I gave up learning new language. I gave up beach, I gave up flowers and gardens, I gave up swimming, much less gym. I gave up good night sleep, I gave up timely food and amalgamate my breakfast and lunch and dinner and a cup of lemon soda in one meal I had on 3 pm the earliest. I gave up a normal house like those my friends are showing off on their facebook. Beautiful gas stoves with oven, kitchen counter clean and shiny, perfect pot and dutch pan, sofa, display, shelves, rack, TV. I gave up a big part of my life so I can give these cats the best. Always, and only the best.

I keep cutting one thing after another that what is left of my life is a concrete cubicle, bare and grey.

And these cats give me their shit to eat every day. Shit everywhere, urine all over. Toppled litter box, bury their poo with their food bowls, turning pots and buckets upside down, digging flower planter, breaking tiny trees, munching on cactus. Shredding curtains, climbing on window blinds, Breaking into my studio and ran all over the shelves and all the toys down to the floor so other cat can pee on them. Dragging a bag of toast everywhere and shred it to the point it’s inedible. Jumping on the fridge and slid on it everything else fell down to the floor.

I can no longer keep my food in the cabinet because at the other side of my kitchen is my other neighbor’s bathroom and although she is not as crappy as the other one, she didn’t understand that her builder eat her money. She didn’t know that the builder neglected to add sealant to plumbing joint and one part of the kitchen now have wet and cold big blob on the wall, right where the wooden cabinet is. Everything I put in there grow greenish black and white cottony camo print overnight and when I talked to her about it, she said she doesn’t have money to fix it, and yet I head her husband talking loudly on cellphone boasting this ten million and that twenty four million.

I stood up and walk into my room and throw myself down. That bed too is filled with trace mineral from pee, poo, mucus and coughs, but when I have money for a trade in event then, I used that instead to buy new blanket to replace those that turned into rags.

But then, in exchange, the cats gives me their shit everyday. their pee, and their ass holes. They knew how much I work to get them all of those and they do things anyway, for the heck of it.

So they can have it. They want pee in their bowl? they can have it. they want poop smearing all over their bowl? they can have it. They want to tear holes on the cat food bag and spray all the contents down and watch them with glee as they fall like bridal rice? they can have it. They can welcome me into the house with pile of their shit right in front of the door. They can push all the plates and glass and bottles off counters and fridge, they can do what they want, since they couldn’t stand clean and safe place.

If they want out they can have it then. Be it rain or sun or vehicle or ignorant, vile abouser. There will be no more bitter medicine. If they don’t want to eat, they don’t eat. They can have everything they want, when they want it. All ninety plus plus of them and many more that people want to dump on me with their sweetest yest deadliest venom all over email.

For over fifteen years, every September 9, just for a few hours I would love to go some place where I know my dad would love, and be alone, and feel him in the air, and let him hug me in all the memories we ever share, those that I managed to keep close and not disappear with time.

But this year, my house is covered with poop and whatever that happened and when it’s over, it’s 10 pm and I am still in the middle of everything.

I have this picture when he was young, with medals. and I remembered a song he sang me a few times. He doesn’t have the best voice nor the finest style, but he is my dad and his voice is like those of angels.

I’ve got a picture hanging on the wall
It’s hard to believe you were ever that small
Now you’ve got bigger ideas, greater ambitions
Higher to reach but further to fall
It used to be you needed me
But, now you’ve grown so tall and strong
Now you’re on your own
But when the walls of your world come tumbling down
When your heart starts breaking
And there’s no one around
Just look over your shoulder
Wherever you roam
Remember, you’re never alone.

I saw Kansai sleeping like a laundry, hanging over the ladder. It’s hard to believe that the day he was born, the day I started The Whiskers’ Syndicate, was nine years ago, the sixteenth of December.

I remembered Nevaeh, seven years waiting for his Eden by the corner, Boo, Tortie, twelve living in the conservatory forest without teeth at all. Constantine, with hunch back and twisted spine, thirteen. I remembered Donna, only one, but her soul is of a sage who lives for ages.

You can love without limit
From deep in your soul
If you keep a young heart, son
You will never grow old
You can fly to the moon
As high as it seems
But you can crash to the ground
On the wings of your dreams
But you will see there will be
Times when you feel ten feet tall
Times you have it all
But when the walls of your world come tumbling down
When your heart starts breaking
And there’s no one around
Just look over your shoulder
Wherever you roam
Remember, you’re never alone.

I remembered Kaitou, the founding cat of Whiksers’ Syndicate. He died on his prime, poisoned, just six months before we moved to our permanent home. I remembered Dusty who tried to cross the street, though he is weak and hungry and no longer see. I remembered Renoir, hernia when only three months old, I remembered Harley, from hopeless skin and bone, to a chubby, bright, purring round furry ball.

I can’t stop you from living
I can’t blame you for trying
I can’t stop you from loving
Can’t keep you from crying

I remembered Liam Harding, and the meaning of his name, chosen by my sister Lori. He has head filled with pus and rotten blood from all the puncture he got, living as a dog fighting bait. He was four months old, he died one and a half year later clean, clear, with glistening eyes, running legs, shiny fur, silver and white. I remembered Rexie II, pale yellow, dragging both his hind legs, then four months old, now bright marmalade and round, six years old. I remembered Tango, one step after another, like drunkard, but now walk like she always know.

I remembered Meli, and her daughter Honey. Went through all sort of thing, go back into the wild, got screw worm, died of FIP.

I remembered Ginger and Missy, and the mother who stayed after them, now fighting for her life, alone. I remembered Merida, both eyes swollen with rot, and her mother Elinor, now missing. I remembered Fergus, sleeping like furry caterpillar on a garbage concrete box by the street, waiting for me. He had escaped death many times, and stayed safe with all his luxury of long hair white coat against poachers and breeders, all on his own, year after year.

I remembered Tiger, and the black kitten who got her leg stuck in the machine and tore it off.

I walked out of my room, and think of putting my jeans on and get some fresh air.

When I turned the light on because I know I will be home after feeding the colony in the dark, I saw Libby sitting by the window.

She wants to go in.

I remembered how she ran to me with lips sliced off and bloody mouth one night. I remembered how many numbers my vets called, I remembered how they cut some fat off her belly and put together a new lip, though imperfect, so she can eat and drink again.

She looked ten years younger after the implant, but her graying fur won’t lie. She must be fourteen now, or around that. She had lost all her teeth but two fangs, she is now brittle and skinny.

But in those few years between her recovery and today, when her age is catching up to her, she gave me Mona. Hopeless, abandoned newborn kitten. Mona didn’t live long, but she stole the heart of every single one who ever see her photos I put on facebook.

But when the walls of your world come tumbling down
When your heart starts breaking
And there’s no one around
Just look over your shoulder
Wherever you roam
Remember, you’re never alone.

I went back to my studio and too off my jeans. I walked back to the cattery and pick up my dirty clothing that cats had dug out of the basket and peed on, and pooed on. Rinse them out and load them into the washer. I picked all the blanket that the cats had trickled and trampled as they play, fold them and pile them to be next to wash. I washed all the bowls, and refill all the buckets, with fresh, mountain spring water that the cats never appreciate enough that they would rather put their own pee inside. I throw away what is left of that soggy cat food, some mixed with crap. I broke my back buying them those expensive, high quality food but they would rather bury their poop with it.

I asked my dad why he joined law enforcement. He said he never asked to be one, but nor the people who fell victim to crime and atrocities. These people can’t choose, most of the time, but the bad guys can, but my dad can.

These people often don’t have option, but the mobs do, as he do too.

These people do not have power to help themselves save their life, but my dad has that power.

A farmer, a family from which he came from, save lives too, by cultivating food.

But he choose his road, and he walk it.

He lost his life, but he left better one for the next.

I flushed the sand away and pour in new one. I picked up the brush and scrub everything all over again.

These cats can’t choose where their life would go, I can.

They live at the mercy of human, I live at the mercy of my own hand.

I choose my road, so I walk it.

But when the walls of my world come tumbling down
When my heart starts breaking
And there’s no one around

I will look over my shoulder,
Wherever they roam
And I will remember, they should never be alone.

~ Josie


You Are Never Alone – Rick Price:

© EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group.

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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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