At the beginning of every day; a single screen. I opened the door at 9 am, Susan rushed in, dropped her backpack on the dryer, and out with her set of brush, scoops, bags. I will be in the inside, cleaning the kitchen, making cat food, bare fangs to the cats who never really learn that living with me requires only one thing: take “no” for an answer.

Such as no jumping onto the counter when the stove is on, no poking leg into grinder, no trampling all over the plastic container (and yet Artemis managed to poop in one of them, once. Then I was grumpy the whole day, ban him from the kitchen, and he learned lesson the hard way), no fishing into hot cooker. I mean, cats are supposed to be smart, but they take their nine lives for granted by putting themselves into life hazard?

Somewhere around noon (often way in the afternoon) we will lock the cats out, sit on the table in the laundry room, and eat in peace; at least almost. There will be big sister running laps around the table and jump wherever and all of a sudden is sniffing into our bowls, there will be cats trying to scale the metal mesh and squeeze in (when Susan first came, there were about 20 cats, by today, there are only two; home improvement)

In the evening, a single screen of her waving her hand at me as she returned to her hotel, and I will go my own way with other rider, all the same way, ten minutes behind her, but then, she will turn to the left, I will turn to the right, and visit the colony.

At the end of everyday, a split screen. Susan in her hotel room, in peace and quiet, me in my room, amidst chaos, both staring at our cellphone or computer screen minding our own business. We both have to provide for our family.

Soon it will be over. There are so many in the list that we cross out and marked done. There are so many more to be done. There was an exasperation and disappointment when we looked at the very many things still piling up untouched, but that one hour we sat to enjoy our meal, the other side of us were elated to know we did make changes that will bring betterment for the cats.

We are glad to know that we did our best.

That afternoon, instead of me dealing the food rations, we switched roles and while I fill in the bowl, Susan distribute it

And the cats love her.

If you watch the video, you will understand yet another reason why I use Psyllium Husk in cat food. I cooked the cat food meats in their own juices, so there will be broth, there will be soup. Imagine what mess it will be and how many times it will take cleaning, if I don’t thicken the broth? I would rather waste $30 for a kilogram of Psyllium Husk that will go straight to the litter box, than waste nutritious juices that the cats might benefit from and spend time spraying $50 disinfectant and cats spattering water everywhere (some of them like playing in the puddle).

But that’s beside the point.

I took the video to hide my tears, though tears of joy.

It’s the first time that I saw them actually coming out toward a stranger. It’s the first time I saw they did not hide and freak; it’s the first time I saw them greet other human, expect human, embrace human.

It’s the first time I saw them break out of the chain of fear that bound their heart, and walk free as a cat should be, as any animals, any living creatures should live.

But then again, nothing lasts forever.

The next morning I sat in the lobby, waiting to drive Susan to the airport. Words cannot convey all the erupting feelings of gratitude to have this chance of getting helped without having to explain the whole lecture and people still won’t understand. The feeling of relief that for once, another person can testify that Whiskers’ Syndicate is real, and dispel comments from strangers that we must be fake because it cost so much just to care for the cats. The feeling of justification because someone else can see how Bandung really is, and the gladness when someone can now understand why I always feel like a whale in a cup of tea.

Words cannot convey the hollow in my heart as it slowly absorbed the fact, pumped by my head, that today forward, I am going to be alone; again.

Words cannot convey the surrealism of the transition, amplified as I walked through the road, under the shadows of arching trees that speckled the sun, step after step, away from that airport.

And when I finally come at the doorstep of the guarding officer’s place, turn to him and send my salute, it’s time I come back to the real world.

From here on it will be an uphill battle. Keeping up with what we achieved and not fall into disrepair. Re-establishing my businesses so I can work from home will require me to let go of some of my various jobs and keep only one, otherwise I will still be out on the road the whole day and neglecting the cats, like all the stories of busy dads across the internet.

Looking at how we always, always, always fall short on donations, I know I am heading for suicide. Still if I don’t do it, I will only be popping my head in the morning, scooping litter boxes, deal bowls after bowls, and leave the cats alone until the next morning. Never touch them, never hold them. When they try to nuzzle me as I squatted there, eyes half closed, grumbling about what mountains of chores keeps piling up, I would have to ignore them because I have to get ten more chores done in two hours and blasted off the house to work.

I can catch up with all the lack of fundraising. I can give them food when our donation can is only half filled, I can pay for mortgage, I can squeeze tight and keep everyone together just a little bit longer, but they cannot touch me, they cannot headbutt me, they cannot purr on my ears, they have no one but empty house that dole out kibbles from time to time.

And they will spend their days lounging as the day past, in an empty house, waiting for that one woman they all think they finally can call home, only to watch her dump her backpack, take shower, take mop, going left and right, eyes fixed on the counter, on the computer, and flop dead until the next dawn. They will be peeking through my bedroom window and when they saw me they will go away thinking, “Maybe tomorrow she will be here”
And still tomorrow she will not.

Is that life?

Is that rescue?

Again this Lent the devil took me to even higher cliff and told me to jump off, and see for myself whether my faith and hope will hold me up.

I used to argue with them and climb down the cliff by stairs telling them they are a bunch of nonsense because good luck only comes to those who works for it. Crime does not pay.

This Lent I am going to take my luck for granted like the cats do and jump. I know I am doing the good thing, now I will see if all my good intentions and heartfelt efforts really pays.

~ 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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