There was only one box of cut meat left so I thought I’d finish grinding the cat food, then I’d be running to the colony.
It will take one hour roughly so I will be a little later than usual, but to tidy things up before I leave will take just about the same. If anyone is asking, what sort of grinder minced about two pounds and something meat for one hour? Well, the grinding itself will take just about ten minutes, but it will expand to an hour if in the process, various cats comes between me and the grinder and swipe their tails under my nose, then turn around to be between me and the box of chopped meat, or snuggle on the box of vegetables, shooed down and have the other take their turn.
So I put the grinder aside, drop all the parts and accessories down a bucket, roll the massive layers of newspaper I use in place of table cloth, and dump everything else alongside to the garbage. Then I put on my jeans, sack my raincoat and ran for the colony.
There was no one there but Theoden, the old cat with bald neck. Christine Alice suggested that name. Fuuta is nowhere to be seen, so was Shota, who has been gone for the whole month now, nor Fergus who comes and goes as he likes. He no longer spent majority of his time on that restaurant and moved to a space by the park, near the bank where Theoden lives.
My swollen hand started to hurt in the cold, so I know it’s time to get my medicine. Nothing good came from yet another hindrance when I need both of my hands functioning, but if a silver lining has to be there, it gave me the option of either seeing the doctor for treatment or take care of myself well. I opt for the second because I don’t have too much time and even less money. It means I eat twice a day instead of one and I eat regularly.
I went to the small restaurant at the other side of the park where I go to have dinner almost every day for months now, order some fruit salad, lemon tea, eat my dinner and go home to finish cleaning.
It was showering when I stepped on the edge of the parking lot by a large, but crumbled concrete garbage fill.
For one and a half years since online ride hailing app taken the whole country by the storm, Bandung had shown off its ugly rear and sheer stupidity. Some of the Sundanese I know are brilliant, the rest of them, however, are hillbillies and morons. The traditional bike taxi (Ojek) and the loathsome traditional “angkot” driver did nothing but demo demo demo refusing online transport because “They are taking away our income and kill us”.
They will die sooner or later if they just sit in their pool the whole day, or park by the roadside for hours waiting for customers, while the one inside their vehicle has school/business/meetings/ activities to do in a certain hour. They smoke in their vehicle, they force their passengers down in the middle of nowhere if they don’t get enough customers. Online transport only embodies the obvious.
When even more people are abandoning them and choose online because they need to be on time, and Bandung traffic is more and more horrible, they up their game, they took people hostage and forbid online transport to go in “their area” Sometimes they will stop a taxi and hit the driver or destroy the car.
Police? Maybe sleeping. There is no money in handling a case like that because usually taxi drivers are just commoner and they don’t have too much bank note to be eaten despite “To Protect And To Serve” huge badge slapped on their car and on the badges.
The road where I live is known to have such people.
That particular night, I opt for taxi. There was yet another demo a few days back and it rains so I opt for taxi. This is blue bird taxi, the most famous for it’s excellent service.
When I jumped in my taxi and mention where I am going, the driver asked me to go down and cancel the order because “the thugs there hit people” plus some mocking remark.
I called the taxi company and they sent a replacement.
It happened three times.
The operator told me that one of their drivers was being hit after driving some customers somewhere in the recent past and everyone is afraid. Honestly I never heard anything beyond rumors, that this taxi or that vehicle being hit or destroyed by people here or there, but never mind. There is no use arguing with people who got used to lie while wearing their crap on the face.
It was fifteen past eleven pm.
I saw a wisp of tail slipping from the curb into the gap between the crumbling garbage.
Most likely it was a rat, but rat does not have yellow furry tail.
I pulled out my Whiskas and made a clapping sound, calling the cat way. I saw two beads shining bright in the reflection of the park light across the street. I know the little kitten was afraid.
I was totally appalled that a small kitten whose eye color haven’t even change has to defend his/her own life on a harsh road and took shelter between the gap of crumbling concrete garbage, but if I take my sense of dismay by force I only hurt both side, so I open my pouch and pour down the food as close as possible outside its cave.
The baby jumped right out and eat like mad. My heart was crushing to see such lonesome kid where one more jumped out of the accidental cave and join in its sibling.
I raised my eyebrows, but I reached into my bag for more Whiskas.
Pour one more down and the third jumped out of their cave and joined the dinner.
By the time I reached out for the third pouch, four little kittens were fighting for food they probably never saw.
I wonder if there is a mother, but the shower turned into rain and it’s near midnight. If I stay there the kittens are going to be wet and they can be sick. So I pour down another two pouches and leave them to enjoy their food, so they can retreat to their shelter as soon as possible.
Good luck has never been an aspect of my life and God the almighty, who offers His protection and care, has never been merciful. In fact whenever I am in a pinch, what He gave is more trouble than else, especially lately. I came to accept that I probably just some sort of production defect in his line of creation so I don’t expect anything. I put my cellphone in my bag and start walking. In an empty road near midnight, it will probably take about an hour to get home on foot.
But why not hail online drive and get down that shelter, one bus stop further than my usual drop point? Walking two kilometers is better than ten.
I book a ride through my app and got almost instant response, but I am not amused. Most likely there will be talk about thugs again along the way.
The driver who responded came in less than five minutes, I jumped into his car, said my hello, good night Sir, how are you? and be gone in my own train of thought.
The driver tried to break the ice by asking why would I work so far while the bus stop where I want to go down to is a SOHO complex.
I told him what happened briefly and that I lived on the road famous with their thugs.
He fell silent for a few seconds, and said “I live in Green View”
I looked at him. “Oh, I live in Green Residence”
Both the housing cluster were build by the same developer. Mine is on the hills, his is a few ten kilometers up to the mountain.
“Do you know Aunty Etty? She is the cousin of my mother in law”
“Yes, I know her, she lives inside the cluster, I live by the road side. She is a nurse in St. Borromeus Hospital”
The ice broke.
And of course there was talk about the many rumors surrounding the thugs destroying things but none of us, both in the community authorities, ever know anything like that ever happened. It’s not like a destroyed car can just be folded out and put inside a pocket or anything.
“It’s very quiet today. Not too many passengers and I am heading home because I have to work at the office tomorrow. Why not I drive you home? I will pass it anyway”
“I will be very grateful”
When we got to the bus stop he closed the application but he drove me all the way.
“Thank you for the lift and best of luck in your office work tomorrow”
His smile was the first and the last I got the whole day. I don’t know if that is sincere or not, but I know I am sincere in my gratitude.
I cross the road and see Sierra running to greet me. My loyal lady in waiting will sit at the porch of the new hut across the house – rain, sun, moon or fog – and run to greet me whenever I am home.
I opened my arms and she ran straight into my embracing hand.
When I close the front door behind me, I thought that maybe it’s time for me to consider purchasing a vehicle, before getting stranded in the middle of nowhere at midnight becomes a habit. But a scooter worth about $1,200 at least and fundraising has been very short because something keeps happening and I always end up posting late and no one cared to see the post the next day.
But somewhere out there, four little kittens and probably their mother had to live in a collapsing concrete garbage that can squash them flat any minute. They don’t have choices.
Somewhere out there four kittens and probably their mother has been stranded in the middle of nowhere and not only on midnight.
Somewhere out there four little people were thugged by life and they have no voice in their paw print the way mine does when I sign petitions to our mayor and police to just bulldoze and haul all the thugs down the road so they won’t bug us tax paying civilians who produces bank notes for those police and their “To Protect And To Serve” jargon.
I changed my clothes and see that it’s 12:30. Cinderella must have turned back into rags from her riches and so have I.
I turned off the light and see all the cats who lined up on the living room, waiting for their “I apologize for going home late” treat. They have no idea how lucky they are, and if they do, they don’t care.
But somewhere out there four little people are waiting for their luck to change and they will see me again by the night fall in front of their cave.
I do care.