Such is the first Shakespeare play I read. An elementary school grader, I was helping my mother clean up the storage house and while getting rid of her old books, I thought it was a novel.

Since then, the title (though not always the story) pops in my mind every time I go for groceries.

Thursday night I was with 10 kgs (20 lbs) of chicken breasts, 5 kgs (10 lbs) of minced beef, 5 kgs (10 lbs) of beef brisket, 3 kgs (6 lbs) of eggs, a dozen cartons of milk, 6 kgs (12 lbs) of assorted vegs and six big bags of kitchen towels. Neighbors think it’s party day everyday in my house, but if you feed 90 cats and half a dozen growing kittens, every day is The Return of The King‘s feast.

Just at the bottom of that famous 45 degrees hike right below my house, I saw a tiny kitten crying frantically while chasing a squealing neighborhood drama queen. She can care less of the kitten tripping and nose diving trying to keep up, but there are boys nearby so why not take advantage of the situation? Hence the obviously fake “ewww” squeal.

With such a massive load of groceries it is impossible to stop, get out of the taxi, pick the kitten and climb. Forty five degrees hike means we have to start the momentum a few miles away and keep the torque until we get to the top and made a U turn to stop in front of the house.

I remembered a similar situation a few years back, when one of my story went viral and hit the front like of Catster and Love Meow. That time I was not burdened with massive groceries, I had just done my job interview, and the man who would be my boss gave me a ride in his fancy Toyota Alphard. He doesn’t like cats, and the traffic is horrible. We can only stop nearby his apartment, and I had to run half an hour back so I can pick up three baby kittens abandoned in a bus shelter.

What I remembered vividly, until today, is one of the comments. A woman wrote in strong words that I am a bullshit. She would have stopped right there, pretended the car broke, and picked up the kittens. She doesn’t have to run half an hour all the way back then, and she would have saved three instead of one (two of the three kittens there had died by the time I got back to the bus shelter where they were abandoned).

There was a few more commenters correcting her, with details about how horrible traffic jam is in South East Asia, and that a car that big wouldn’t be able to just stop as if it is a Chevrolet and pretended it was broken without being rear ended and sworn at by the whole town; but she wanted nothing of it, and some of her allies came online and it became a mini semantic war with nasty word bombs everywhere.

The wound festered until today; deeper and deeper, and it particularly stings when I cannot immediately rescue a needy cat.

Taxi quoted me the meter, I paid, jumped out, and the driver helped me with the whole baggage. It didn’t take half an hour, but it still felt excruciatingly slow, especially dealing with frantic kitten.

When a taxi came to pass, I locked the fence, ran downhill, while my mind devises a guise that I wanted to buy some fritters and drink at the nearby stall.

Alas, drama queen was not there, boys were not there, kitten was nowhere to be found.

I was stunned there for like three seconds, and already guilt blew me up into pieces.

But then meow.


Meow, meow, meow.

I looked around. Nothing.

Meow, meow.


There. Under that broken car across the street, behind the tire. Peeking as if his scream is a sin.


I cross the street, and our eyes met in the middle. I was down on my knee a few steps away from the car like Wayne Rooney scored his fateful goal. Hand extended, eyes wide, trying to hold my ecstasy and sound normal instead of squeaky.

“Here kitty kitty. I’m OK. Come?”

He never blinked. He took a deep breath, one second, and then ran to my open arms.

Meow! Meow! Meow!

I held him in my jacket. It was only two minutes climb and the night sky is clear but he was shivering.

When I arrived home, Hanshin had made his way gnawing the meat bag and served himself. Theoden and Spots were in line.

Well, just this time, never mind.

I set him inside, hauled all the groceries inside, then checked if he needs immediate assistance.

He was all right. He was thin and he was shivering, but a bowl of warm food, and he’s curling on the containers just fine.

The next morning I gave him Drontal, then revolution, then probiotic. Standard for all newcomers at The Whiskers’ Syndicate.

In the afternoon he vomited; and he vomited a lot.

With these bad eyes, I thought he was vomiting the remains of yesterday food.

Oh, he ate noodles before I picked him up.

I took kitchen towel, and clean his vomit.

It was not noodle. It was long, chubby, roundworms. The whole army of them.

OK, WTF moment, but he was a stray kitten.

At night, he vomited again, and another spoonful of chubby, half dead worms.

The next morning, a smelly, runny, pale poo right in front of my bedroom with segments of tape worm all over. It was like curry.

Rise and shine Josie; rise and shine, but first, pick up the poo and clean it up.

Suddenly he is not chubby in the belly anymore.

And he is not scratching anymore.

He is not crying out loud anymore.

He follows me forever and after; meowing, and it’s really funny because wherever I go, at least three kittens are tailing me.

By today he is clean and clear, and he made it a point to sit on that rattan stool policing the other kittens who come and go for the food bowl just below.

I’ll ask him about his tariff tonight. Maybe if I told him I work for his logistics, he will give me special rate.



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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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