A small presence, insignificant being. The voiceless creature no one even bothers to look twice at. Would there be any who think of their meaning, their worth, their existence?

Predators become the hunted, not by another predator, but by ignorance, self entitlement, those who clothed themselves with civilization, but only to cover their bare heart.

Yet the one who tells their stories is their prey. One who sees nothing, says nothing, yet hears everything.

A stroke of luck, a miracle, perhaps, but not just chance, when Sheilla and I ended our disagreement with me storming out of the house, determined to cease to exist. I didn’t bring anything, no wallets, no ID, no money, no cellphone, nothing. Just me, walking until my feet break and then walk some more.

She saw a peculiar dot on that empty road, looking for my trace; peculiar white dot in contrast of the dark asphalt, running left and right. She picked the dot up and found herself bitten so fiercely, she had to put it back down. It was a hamster; a harmless, gentle animal who is friends to everyone, especially (supposedly) harmless kids.

This one was born without sight, and without sight his already insignificant being became worthless. Just like the millions of kittens born in the kitty mill to a haphazardly, most often forced mating, only to be discarded starting mere minutes to their lives, because they were born with unfavorable colour, unfavorable length of hair, unfavorable shape.

If they didn’t make it past a few minutes, that’d be better, but to some, just like the little hamster, they’d grown into the ghosts that haunted this town, nonexistent, but real.

Sheilla took whatever was available to wrap her hand and pick up the hamster one more time, bring him home, took a box, and since then, this little being is a ghost that haunted my studio. He was technically nonexistent, but real.

We changed his hay, watched him make his den from wood shreds, bought him the best food. We provide bathing sand, and we giggled at how he ran to the other end of his tiny enclosure, to the place where food is there for him to dig and choose, stuff his cheeks full, and to the other place where water always drips, if he licked the little nozzle which leads to who knows where.

We know some of our shy cats would do the same. Waiting until everyone falls asleep, rush to the food bowl, sneak into the water bucket; but what about those who stay on the street? Not much different, but a lot more difficult.

In one of the hectic days that suffocate us, we would run to the studio just to catch a breath, with little biscuit and cup of coffee, and I would look at our invisible resident and say “He is probably the most unfortunate among us: sightless, hopeless. Yet again he is also the luckiest: he doesn’t have to deal with the world. He only knows there is fresh hay, bathing sand, fresh water, crunchy sunflower seed. He never knows the burden of the world, he doesn’t know pain, he doesn’t know danger. If someone or something tried to touch him, he bites.

If one day the world would turn over and everything smells different, he’d build again. Small nest to burrow and sleep during what he thought must be the night, savings of seeds for what he thought would be rainy days; tranquil days without storm or sun, serenity without the many headaches that often push us to despair.

He would never know that almost everyday at least one cat would watch him going round his world making life goes round.

Our cats would never know that every day, at least one of their kind lost their lives on the street; hungry, in pain, sick, terrified, and alone. Our colony would never know that, beyond their marked territory, another group of their kind had to kill each other just to live another day. Those whom our hands cannot reach would never know there is a place in their cursed earth called home, there are people they can call family. There are worlds that they should have.

There are peaceful hearts that they deserve to have.

We know, and it torments us that our hands are not long enough, our house is not big enough, our purse is not full enough.

If there is a peaceful heart, it’s knowing that though we fail today, we can still try tomorrow, just like our Hamtaro knows there will be fresh water and new sunflower seed. If there is a peaceful heart, it is knowing that through the magic of friendship with fellow humans around the world, we can bring healing, cure, love, care, chance, and hope. One today, two tomorrow.

If there is a peaceful heart, it will be like our Hamtaro and his faith that as long as he keeps on living – in the best way he knows – the world is a better place; we have faith that as long as we keep on giving – as best as we know it – we will make the world a better place: for one today, two tomorrow, and more everyday.

~ Josie


Writer’s note:
“A Peaceful Heart” (published 1961) is the title of a fiction novel by one of Indonesia’s most prominent female writer Nh. Dini about a woman who seeks her place in this world and finally finds it in one of her love’s big heart. Nh. Dini herself was killed in a traffic collisions (due to ignorance by other drivers) on 4th of Dec 2018 (age 82). I am adapting her contemplative style of writing, the similar circumstances (of the novel and of the ignorance that took her life, to Hamtaro, The Whiskers’ Syndicate’s mobsters and my world), and the thoughts presented in the novel as a tribute to her 84th birthday today.


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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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