The day before the holiday: empty shops ready to close, lights in business offices gone out. The road jam-packed as people rush to go back to villages where they were born.
From 29th of April to the 9th of May Bandung will be dead.
But not everyone is going home.
Like years before, I said hi to the police officer stationed near the row of banks at the front of the complex, who will let me in to feed the stray cats waiting anxiously in their various hideouts. Though old and tired, his smile never fades, but that day he saw me rush back out as soon as I came in.
He can guess very well what I was up to, even when he cannot abandon his station to follow me. For years and years people in this town never change.
She is sick and she was pregnant. She was taken away from the place she called home, and abandoned in the back alley just before that SOHO complex closed.
She gave birth prematurely to two babies. One had dried and turned brown near her belly, the other made it; both his hind legs deformed, condemned to a hard life.
With every cry the baby tried to suckle, with every crawl the baby fought his hunger, the cold, the hard concrete, the hot asphalt, the scorching sun. She is a loving mother, but with her condition, she has little to give.
I know the baby tries to drink. I know it with every cry, but I don’t know why he can’t suckle. I don’t know why it’s hard for him to swallow. Every half an hour I drop one or two droplets of baby milk into his mouth, but that’s about all he can take. One whole week before the first vet clinic in town would open, but without veterinary intervention he wouldn’t last that long. This town does not have an animal hospital, we do not have an emergency facility.
In desperation I mixed baby formula with electrolyte, aside from giving the baby subcutaneous fluid.
As much as I can, I try to push the mother back up. While she tried, she cannot eat by herself. She can only take liquid food. I doubt giving her antibiotics because she is nursing, but without antibiotics her body wouldn’t fare well fighting disease, and even then she only has a few drops of milk that her baby must work so hard to get. Surely she gets supplements, including those people said to help mothers producing milk; but unlike a miracle, recovery does not happen overnight, even when I am more than eager and happy to rush her to the front of the line when the vets are back open next week.
Four days with us, day and night, every second, every minute, their hearts are still beating, the baby is still crying, their hearts are still beating.
They have not given up.
Every cry worth fighting for.