COLLATERAL DAMAGE

There she goes again.

Whether it’s the tuna guy or the tofu seller right next to him who mumbles, or it was my head thinking out loud, I know at least three of us thinks the same.

All this woman does is boasting. Every day is different toot of her own horn and whatever in between; about her, about her cooking, about how much people love to buy from her food cart, about her great life, about either one or both of her sons who should be the center of the world and how she couldn’t understand why most people looks down on them.

I can’t see why either. They are typical, old school Sundanese boy. Sleep all day, no work, just sit around wooing girls, because even lifting a kettle for their mother is too heavy a job for them. Men shouldn’t do that kind of thing.

But who am I to judge? I only met them every Wednesday and Saturday and it’s only because my tuna guy open his stall in front of her house. Well, not really, she is just a maid who takes care of the house. The owner of the house is an active, high ranking navy officer so I figure he will be living somewhere else. That house was turned into a boarding house and she is the concierge sort of thing. To supplement her income, she had a cart selling food and snacks in front of the house.

One day about last year a long haired white kitten thought my leg (or maybe my dirty jeans) is a scratching post. Everyone was laughing while peering uneasily towards me. Prejudice and predicament dissolved as soon as I lifted the little kitten up, cradled her, and cood at her funny marking.

“Would you have a place for her in your house?”

The tofu seller never speaks to me, but that time, he did.

“She was born in that house, and has no one to take care of her. I feed her everyday with my tuna, but if you can give her home it will be wonderful”, so the tuna guy said.

I told them I need to go to three more places and two banks, so it’s impossible for me to bring her, but I can come with a basket the next time I come for my tuna.

When the day comes, we found the kitten, but when I was about to put her in the crate the older son of the woman took her from my hand and claimed that it’s his cat, and that he has been taking good care of her.

All right.

Come the end of February, his mom was probing the possibility of “handing over the lady cat and her babies” to me.

I did not respond. The tuna guy and the tofu guy peered at each other with a there-she-goes-again-smile, but say nothing.

But every week when I come for my tuna it became the scene of Holywood blockbuster. The scene when the climax pop, and there is this little kid by the corner holding a stack of newspaper yelling “Extra! Extra!”

Except that the one who yells is a frankenfish with potbelly and unkempt hair.

“What is a frankenfish?” whispered the tofu guy.

I googled frankenfish and showed my phone to the two guys.

“Oh wow, the resemblance is uncanny” said my tuna guy, giggling.

“Especially the mouth”, said the tofu guy smiling.

I tried to flush the fire with an offer to just spay the cat and later her kittens, but Frankenfish woman wants nothing of it. She just keep tooting that I should just take them all because of this and that and finally, “because her son is going to military school”

I can see that the whole bunch of people who heard it turned crimson holding themselves from bursting into bags of laughter.

No deal then. I have too many cats, and my tuna guy feeds her well. Tofu guy said she slept in a ceiling of shops there at night or in the roofed part of the house’s front yard, so we can keep her there as a community cat.

By the end of March, every time I showed up in the fish stall, people there pretty much know where it will go.

Week after week the kitty just become dirtier and dirtier. Her fur matted, and the tuna guy said she had been kicked out of the house alongside her kittens, as soon as the woman learned that all four of her kittens has short hair, none like their mother.

I started to look for an adopter, because I really do have too many cats and it will be irresponsible of me to risk an outbreak. I know it will be almost impossible because people here just don’t adopt if they can buy (it’s the pride in buying vs picking up things from the street), but I try anyway.

Still one hectic Wednesday Frankenfish woman just have to box all the kittens, push the mother inside and have her son tied the box shut and shove it to “madam veterinarian” here who “can turn any ugly cat into most beautiful creature”

Since when I am a veterinarian? She once took a peek when I showed the guy photos of Marbella (whom I picked up in a school yard across the street from there) and she heard me tell the guys I gave her supplements and vitamins to keep her healthy (when they asked what I gave to make her so pretty)

She just kind of knit all the pieces according to her own will I guess.

Never mind.

Her son can’t even fold a box right. Her son can’t even tie raffia correctly.

Her son took forever flipping the box around so that the kittens were panicked and the mother cat went panicked, and it soon turned into a scene that she kept blowing up into wildfire and just keep fanning it.

My rider knew I stood there frozen and pale because I was too busy holding my fist close to me. Tuna guy knew I was silent because I bit my lips so hard it turned white. Tofu guy knew that if all of this didn’t end in two minutes someone is going to be sashimi.

So all three of them jumped into the scene, snatch the box from the spoiled brat who is going to military school, one other tied the box up and one held the panicking mother and gave her to me.

It was like pit stop. Five seconds and my rider ran with the box to his motorbike, tuna guy held my tuna for me and put it in my tote bag, and tofu guy warded people off and dispersed the crowd.

We usually rode easy, but I have never known my rider can steer with such speed and skill, I felt like we are riding Formula 1.

Two of her kittens has advanced stage of Panleukopenia, one has advanced stage of Calicivirus, and one other later stage of Chlamydia.

Mother was so stressed she did nothing but walk around her kitten’s crate like a mad animal.

She is savage to this day, although I have managed to habituate her enough to her new life that she can live among other cats without trying to kill them or kill herself. She can’t have any cats near her, much less kittens; she will freak out and flipped.

She let me touch her. These past two weeks she let me carry her. She let me pet her long enough without flipping and mauling my arm. She can sleep without waking up every few minutes and claw whoever inadvertently dozed nearby.

She can eat with the others now. Eventually she is calm enough to be put into a crate so my vet can spay her and run some check up.

I lost my patience sometimes, especially with festivities in full swing, but it’s only been two months; and she lost all her world. Going as far as two feet away to letting me carry her is amazing.

Still, hopefully one day she will truly understand that she is no longer in the mouth of a frankenfish woman, and that not all parts of the world is thorn and prickles.

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

P.S:
Today when I show up for tuna, frankenmom and hideouson came all smiles to me and ask if I can “gift” them an “unneutered male with long hair” to be kept “as investment”
Good thing a newspaper guy came and offer me to buy his leftover yesterday edition.

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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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