As you call your day to a close, please allow me to take just one minute of your time to call their names, and tell them you love them.
Past six in the evening, Bandung is a dead town. Offices close, markets and supplies stores wrap up, and those who do not find good luck stay just a little bit longer until the end of grace period at 8 pm.
Then, the road turned to heaven for a few who thought they have the heart of steel and power above the law.. All of a sudden, they are all Mika Hakkinen. All of a sudden, everybody is Lewis Hamilton. For that one moment, they are Ayrton Senna.
Except the ones who end up dead are innocent, voiceless animals.
Of these street jerks I have no respect, as they have only ignorance and stupidity, save one. One who stopped me on my ride and told me about a cat who got crushed by one of these a*holes on wheels. He had been taking care of this cat for four days; using his meagre money to buy rice and fish, but couldn’t afford veterinary service.
Everybody knows me on that intersection. Everybody knows I feed street cats and pick up those who have no hope.
I followed him with utmost caution and awareness into a dark, derelict cabin at the back of a tiny gas station, where he often slept and by then shared it with Oggie.
Oggie lost his source of food during lock-down and was trying to push his luck, only to be doused by boiling water. In pain, he ran for his life, got himself hit, and the hit man didn’t even care to look back. He was one of those street racers who must have think he is the coolest in the world.
I took Oggie to the vet the next morning, but four days without urgent treatments that he needs gave him maggots on his wounds and necrosis creeping up his spine.
Our vet did what they can: two experts, dozens of vet techs; X Rays, tissue swabs, stabilizers. Oggie was on his way to recovery and was eating well and cleaning himself. Throughout four days Oggie ate real food, drank fresh water, slept on a bed, a warm blanket over his head. Yesterday morning he had a brief seizure, but when he succumbed to that sepsis lurking for so long, he looked at me one last time, rested his head on my chest as I cradled him, and set himself free.
That night we made ourselves go further, and help even more, as long as we can stand, as long as our eyes stay open. One last park before we head home, a bunch of street punks gathered under that dim street light, surrounding a cat laid by the roadside.
We turned back and I asked them what happened, and they said they saw someone hit and crushed the cat they were surrounding, and it seemed like the motorcyclist broke the cat’s neck. They ripped a banner off a closed down office and try to make a thick bandage to hold the cat’s head straight, just like a man who broke their neck on TV.
Around them, a tuxedo kitten wandered around the perimeter, confused and horrified.
I took the kitten, handed him over to Sheilla, and asked if they would trust me enough to take care of the cat.
One of them gave me the banner so I can hold the cat, because it’s dirty.
I smiled and took the cat off the ground, head and neck intact, and let him rest his head on my chest.
After living in that strip of the street alone for as long as he can remember, Happy found himself in a stranger’s arm who told him he is going to be OK, there will be no more pain soon, and that although I never go near him, because he wouldn’t allow anyone, I know he knows I always left food by the corner under that street light where he often rested in his journey through the night.
When I told him one more time that he is going to be okay, he stopped jerking, and ran free.
So as you call your day to a close, please allow me to take just one minute of your time.
Please hold their shadow in your arms. Please look into their eyes that sparkle in wonder, as it is the first time someone ever eold them like a child. Please feel their head on your chest.
Please call their names, and tell them you love them.