Then, when I was a child, a pastor told me: “Trust is not gained, trust is given.”
I wondered, but I keep it to myself and move on.
When I was a little bit older, a teacher told me: “Trust is never given, it has to be gained.”
I have my own experience by then; so I wondered, but I keep it to myself, and move on.
Three months ago, at the beginning of pandemic lock down, Sheilla and I peeked into a closed sports center; under abandoned food carts that usually brimmed with sportsmen’s stories, cheers and exclamation. There should be the customary one or two strays with every food stall on the streets of Bandung, and we found three.
They all look the same. Same colour, same tail. Two females, one male. She has the saddest eyes among the three, and the shyest of them all. Though each has their own quarters, they always wait for us together. She always sat at the back, and took her share the last, after we walked back to our motorcycle and watched from afar.
At one point, lost in the jungle of my memories, she stopped coming. One day, two days, three days. We thought she probably got herself pregnant that season and was giving birth somewhere away from the chaos of the world, trying to raise her family in relative peace.
But then just when I started sending prayers for her supposed little family, I saw her. I saw her putting her whole life trying to keep standing, keep walking, closer and closer.
From the darkest of the night, I can see the glint of her eyes. They stare straight at me, but those was not fierceness, those were not hunger, those were not shyness. Those were pain, and fear, and desperation.
I came running at her. It never occurred to me that she might be running away, the blood that rushed into my brain was that something really bad was happening, and that she needed help. She trusts no one, but at the back of her voiceless mind she knew that if she wants to live, she will beat herself up and come.
She was either slammed by a vehicle, beaten with brute force, or crushed over, and half of her face were as good as destroyed. Blood dripping over dried streaks of red, from her crushed jaw, down to her neck, to her chest, and matted everywhere.
I didn’t know how she survived without a touch of healing, and still find strength to come to the place where she will hopefully find help.
If was freezing; and the wind was strong, but I took off my jacket and wrapped her stiffened body, frail and frozen, and Sheilla rode us like Hades in his chariot.
She crumpled under our sink. Day and night, and wouldn’t come out. She cannot swallow, and the only thing we can get into her is subcutaneous fluid, antibiotic shot, pain killer, and booster, booster, booster.
Three days, and her blood stopped, though it cost her all her weight. She was skin and bone then, but she can swallow, though only liquid. I mix honey and spirulina with warm water, and sat with her every drip of the way as much as she can bare.
Only one cc, no problem. Two days later, three cc, that’s wonderful, five days: ten cc.
At the start of a new week, I mixed baby food with broth and she started to stand.
Another week, I blendered chicken and broth, and she can walk. She start to resist her medicine.
At the end of the month, she ran away whenever she see me with medicine or subcutaneous fluid.
Sunday morning at 2 am, when I call it the end of my Saturday, I saw her walking slowly to the mat by my bedroom door. She laid down, her rear full of blood.
I thought something bad was happening, but Sheilla beat me into the answer: she had a miscarriage. She lost two babies. They were still just blobs of blood and tissue, but we took the two anyway, wrapped them in front of her, and buried them in the front yard, while she was watching on the shelf by the window.
It was unfortunate, but it is better that she lost her babies and has chance to recover without the burden of a pregnancy, than gave birth to two babies doomed with misfortune even before they were born.
She turns her head whenever we called her. I can almost see her sigh whenever she saw me with a cup of liquid food and syringe, but she wants to live.
She will not get better. Since she did not get the surgery she needs to correct her crushed jaw due to the lockdown ,and especially the lack of veterinary technology, her face will be crooked forever, and she won’t chew the way she used to, nor will she eat the way a cat should.
But why didn’t I take her to see the vet? Those who spend a lifetime rescuing will figure it out even before I wrote down the answer: she would be put down. Everyone will raise their hands, throw in the towel, then peer at the needle and that bright green liquid in the bottle at the back on the corner of the cabinet.
Most of the time, trust needs to be gained. Through candor and through time.
At a certain time, trust is given; which makes it more special, because giving trust is surrendering one’s life in the hand of a stranger. This cat, full of fear and pain, put the last of her life in my hand, so I will hold it in full honour and fight in her behalf with all my might until there is no more.
Will you join me and back her up?