When we only have only three slices of steamed tuna left, always close to one am, we’d go to that noodle stall by Chinatown.
We’ll sit by the corner, near the end of the row, waiting for our noodles and warm soup, and especially for her and her sister and mother to come. Then we will have belated dinner together.
Spending our quiet time for a while, we’d bid our farewell, and go separate ways. We’ll be back to our shelter, and them, to the rubbles of a motel behind the gate where the stall stands.
There has always been a lingering worry. People there are not kind to animals. Half of them are pub-goers who care about nothing but getting drinks or girls. Half the others were homeless, who slept under their cart in the seams of an alleyway.
But she was shy and nervous, and she always jumped away first, at any sign of us moving, so we hoped she’d be OK, at least for a while, even though she was alone by then.
There is also that particular melancholy in her eyes; that tells the silent story of living as the unseen, untaken, nonexistent. Whether she is cold or hungry or thirsty or lonely, whether it hurt her paw to have to cross that rock and dust, or whether anyone cared if she is sick.
There was that instant when she showed up with a slash that started just under her ear to the beginning of her thigh.
There was an incident when her ears were so itchy she scratched them bald and then some more.
And then there was that unprecedented virus coming over, and irresponsible people spread it out that it burned life faster than a wildfire.
The night when we heard about the first casualty that start the avalanche of restrictions she sat so close to us; for the first time, we can touch her.
We doubted, but I knew it that if we did not take her that night, we will never see her again.
Growing up in the ruins brought her to the highest places in our home; from where she rules her new world. Holler right to our ears if food is late, holler right to our ears when she wants some drink. Holler to whoever she passed by on her way down to the boxes, holler all the way back up and we know she is fine.
She is Rapunzel, the dame of the tower