BACK ALLEY

He sent me a blurry selfie holding two bottle babies with a timid note: He saw someone put a small box at the entrance of the back alley where he lived at dawn. He was on his way to work, and that alley only has one way in, one way out.
He wrote he doesn’t have any money to keep the two baby kittens he found in that box. Her mother lost their home, and they now live in a three square metres booth where she sells noodles: him, his mother, and his little brother. He wrote he doesn’t know if a baby formula was good for them, and if it is, he couldn’t find any bottle suitable for their size.

At dusk, when I stood by the entrance of the same back alley, a sheepish mother came from a small booth just a few steps away with a box.
Her son had told her to keep rags around the babies; her son had told her to find a dropper and gave them broth. Her son had told her – before he went to work until the end of the day – that a lady with long hair in jeans and a red jacket will come to give the babies a proper life.
She carefully put the box on the ground, picked up the two kittens, and put them in my arms.
She told me she lived in a slightly better place, selling noodles as a small living for her two sons until Covid left nothing for them except the booth they now call home. There is free internet from the mosque at the other end of the back alley that her youngest son can use for his online schooling, and a bus stop nearby where her older son will go to work from, in the hope he can continue his study when time gets better.

I told her I would love her noodles, as I have none since the beginning of the day.

She told me that when she was in school herself long ago, she learned that people have to help each other when things got hard. But the reality is quite different where she lives now: like those who stand by and do nothing while others struggled, those who took advantage of others and left them in the hard part of life, and people who took babies away from their mother for the feeblest of reasons and throw them to die in a dirty box.

As I felt the warmth of her noodles on my freezing hand, I told her that the saviour of men came from a manger.
When I waved goodbye, I told her that the sun enlightened the earth by crawling from the bottom.

And that humanity has hope because the doors to the underworld take the high street, through the large houses with marble floors, swipe away those in fancy clothing, shiny cars; leaving those surviving in the back alley to renew the earth.

~ Josie

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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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