Here are three stories.
The first is told by Jesus, and recorded by Luke the Apostle (Luke 15: 11-32), about a father who has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance and, after wasting his fortune (the word prodigal means “wastefully extravagant”), becomes destitute. He returns home with the intention of begging his father to let him be made one of his hired servants, expecting his relationship with his father is likely severed.
The father welcomes him back and celebrates his return. The older son refuses to participate. The father reminds the older son that one day he will inherit everything, and that they should still celebrate the return of the younger son because he was lost and is now found.
The second is mine. I have always been that first born. I am the only daughter, so with her first son (my brother) in command, my brothers gang up on me. I always have to look after my brothers, always have to tolerate them, always have to bite my tongue, even down to the most embarrassing harassment that will haunt me for the rest of my life and destroy my self concept. It cracked the already fragile relationship between my mother and I, and as I am writing this post, I think, is one of the reasons I would probably never go home again.
At least we stay civil and amicable to each other.
I don’t blame my mom for choosing her sons over her daughter, nor ever ask why. It’s the Asian thing, and even if I got my answers, like the first son in the first story, what would I do? Joy to the world regardless. So why waste my time and energy asking? Just live with it, and move on.
Sometimes I ask God, though, but He hasn’t elaborate beyond Jesus’ cliffhanger: “The son was lost but now he is found”
With the third story, I start to understand, maybe.
As he grew up, Cali naturally started to explore. The Mama’s boy would slip outside to the front yard at night and run left and right, figure eight, figure six, roll over and celebrate life wastefully and extravagantly. When I open the door half an hour later, however, he will always run to me.
Always. No question, no protest, nothing. I even don’t have to call his name. He would sit and cool off by the window, and when I call it the night (or dawn) he would follow me into the room, lay down above my head, and knead my hair. Cali Creambath (I think it’s called hair spa elsewhere).
One day, he followed Hanshin out of the house, and never returned.
I went looking for him, but he vanished. Gone with the wind.
There was no trace of him whatsoever, wherever. I keep looking because I was worried about him. He is a mama’s boy, he can’t survive in the wild, he is a baby Huey.
And he is mute. He can’t meow. If he wants to speak, he sounds as if he is whispering “Huh, Huh” His round eyes do the speaking for him. Funny thing is, I never get lost in translation. I look into his eyes and I know what he wants, how he wants it.
Day after day, week after week, month after month. I ran out of places where he might go (he never even left the front yard before he went missing), and with every place I crossed out, the ray of hope dimmed.
I can only hope that he survived somehow, somewhere, and find happiness, or if he died, he would die in peace, quick and easy.
A year went by and Kaka, who was like a twin brother to Cali, grew up. He got fixed, he became an adult. He is still a big brother for everyone, but I know there is something missing and he just lives with it silently.
Last week after I checked on the entertainer, I dropped by the chicken butcher where I got meat for the cats, and saw a thin, scruffy, dirty, ugly butt of a ginger cat. I peeked over, he was eating fish bone. He didn’t enjoy it, but that’s what he got.
I felt sorry for him, so I pour down two pouches of Whiskas for him. He sniffed it, he licked it, he ate a little, but then, that’s it.
He licked his lip and it was a twinkle of deja vu.
I called him. Cali?
He didn’t respond.
He just sat there, and it’s two twinkles of deja vu.
I touched him and he didn’t run away. I scratched his neck, hoping that I can see his face. He looked at me a little bit, but then turned away.
By then I have been calling him Cali like a few thousands times, and people look at me as if I lost my mind.
He didn’t respond, and my rider is some sort of a common local jerk, so I left him, and went home.
I jumped down his motorbike and paid him as soon as he stopped in front of my house, smile my courtesy, wave him off, and right behind his back, flagged another rider and asked to be dropped off by the market.
It was only a few miles, it was only a few minutes ride, but the road from my house to the market is not straight, and it require crossing two four-lanes road, and although we can go there on foot, only an athlete will conquer return trip. Long story short, for Cali to be there by natural causes require a big fat miracle.
He was still sitting there, hanging his head, looking at his Whiskas, when I came back the second time.
Whispers and giggles fumed up behind me, but I just squat there, hold him on his head, make him look at me eye to eye, and call one more time
This time, he gave me head butts.
I open my bag, put him inside, and told him “We’re going home”
He made no single move during our ride home. Not a single move, just sit there, poke his head out of the bag, and let wind blow his face.
The arrangement of the house is a lot different now, but when he walked into the house, he knows where the water bowl is. He knows where the food bowl used to be, he walked straight to my room and ask to come in.
All the other cats sniff him once, look at him, and move on, as if he was never missing.
He was stinky as hell, sticky, dirty, ugly and flea-y; I had to give him a bath.
He didn’t say a word, just “Huh huh”
The longer he stayed at home, the more he return to his old habit.
That night he followed me into my bedroom, lay above my head, and kneaded my hair. Cali’s hair spa.
And I know it’s him.
My love to all others never changed. I treat them just as good before and after Cali went missing, but there is something incomplete the days he was not with us.
Even if he did not return in the end, I would love them just as much, I would treat them just as good, I would treat them just as well.
My love for Cali never changed. I love him as much as I used to love him, but there is something special about his return that I was singing and humming all day long whatever I do.
It was like blooming spring, and my heart chirps like the first bird.
And all the other cats did not ask. They did not protest, they knew Cali has returned, and they are OK with it.
And even if I would ask, there won’t be no answer. There won’t be who, or what, or how, or why. All that can be is “The son was lost, but now he is found”
So I turned to the cross and I told God now I know why the story was left in cliffhanger. There are no words that will convey the feeling, no words that describe the thought, no words that would explain the emotion.
All it can be is “The son was lost, but now he is found”
Note: The two photos on the left is Cali the day he went home, the two later photos are the last picture of him, taken before he was gone.