Mobsters for Hire


Earlier this year, when I rushed that jam packed alley all the way to the mountain, it was just another rescue.

It was just another faceless call, nameless message, asking for help for a kitten crushed by car, and that no one there done anything except for a housewife and his son with compassion.

That golden kitten mopped his long, glorious fur all the way along the street where he crawled dragging half his fractured body around, just to stay alive, and his mother nearby can do nothing but watch helplessly, the little life she brought to the world, ended nothing but a little more than pitiful sight in a small alley just behind the sparkling high class venues and residence mere steps away.

The Whiskers’ Syndicate ladies and gentlemen, who rallied for that little boy to have his multiple surgery, would later call him: Tiger. He didn’t look like a tiger, he didn’t sound like a tiger, but he has the heart and soul of the king of all tigers.

Two months into his recovery from all the pins and stitches that made him look like a grisly monster, comparable to Freddie Krueger and Chucky combined, he died of Panleukopenia.

The bleeding wound still fresh and raw even half a year later, took acid when that same housewife and her son sent another message calling for help, this time for Tiger’s mother, who cannot stop bleeding. The men of the house don’t like cats, they only tolerate her short presence in honor of the lady and the young man, so I know my time is not lengthy.

In the darkness of the night, through the tightly packed, sparkling road for the elite, I rushed down with a basket that slowly soaked wet with blood, and a young female cat who no longer had anything to lose.

It was Tiger’s sibling who never meant to be, trapped between undead and the afterlife, slowly killing his mother, helpless to pass him on.

This time, she went without much fanfare, unlike the child that brought the world to his plight. She stayed with us for two weeks, has surgery to remove her infection, and when she healed, we all not sure whether we should return her to the street.

She has nothing but a short presence on the porch of that tiny house, enough for food and water, before the men of the house banish her for the rest of the day.

To prevent disagreement, she was given a small lodge on the roof of the house, out of sight, though not out of mind. I have nothing more to give but a new carrier, 10 lbs of food, a pillow and small message that the lady will never need to worry about cat food.

My favorite poet said, It’s rain that grow flowers, no thunder.

And the other adds, that indeed water does not cut through rock with its power, but with its persistence.

Tiger’s mother does not roar. She just sat there in silence, at the corner of the room. She maintained her composure in that small side of her new world.

Her name, in local language, with a pun intended, means “Beautiful Girl”

And as her new life unfold, its ripples touch other hearts.

First the dad, then the grand dad.

These days, she will sit at the leg of the dad every morning, for a little milk. She will sat close to the dad when he came home from a long day, to comfort. Throughout, a touch of humor and laughter for the elder dad.

These days, that hate turns to love. That indifference turn to compassion.

She opens a secret of how Tiger got his luxurious golden long hair, flowing like silk in the wind: it’s hers.

She told the secret of how Tiger had a pair of round eyes, beautiful face, and the stature of a king, it was hers. Had he survived, he would have been spitting image of his mother.

And then, she told the secret of the universe. Everything happened for a reason. That the heart breaking story of her son is only part of the story.

That the penultimate happy ending, at least in a small part of this world, belongs to a little stray cat looking for love.

~ Josie

“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
― Rumi

Third picture is Meng Geulis (pronounced mang-gou-liss) on the day of her rescue. The other three are her pictures 6 months after her recovery.

Update on repairs at the shelter

Greetings to our friends this morning 🐱

I have here some photos of the cats in their new enclosure.

Thanks to everyone’s kindness and support, the repair to the mesh has been completed and the cats can enjoy themselves safely.

We are so grateful to you for your help, thank you so much. You truly are The Whiskers Syndicate.

Happy Caturday my friends and family

At the end of the muscle-wringing chase to replace our stolen money, I climbed the stairs with wire cutter on Friday to disassemble the mesh that has been protecting our cats from climbing out and right onto the pikes of glass shards and barbed wire.

It is already brittle so it doesn’t take more of any small bits of energy left in me after working two shifts back to back the whole week so I can pay for bills and food. Fundraising efforts are very much deserted when everyone goes for summer vacation, but the mesh is old style and it’s not coated; so it’s rusty and dangerous because every little bit is potentially infectious even when I put safety gloves.

For most, the hardest part is fighting against the urge to sleep, which I forgo so I can care for all the cats in the shelter beaten down by the freezing 50 F that cyclone Maria had blown us to demonstrate what Christmas in July would feels like. It certainly doesn’t evoke festivities though.

But all of those won’t be happening, because the young welder who learned to love cats after he worked on our laundry room (and Sierra sleeping on his motorbike) had asked for USD 300 to replace our 6 sqm (64.5 sq ft) window. In all honesty, I cannot make it; especially because it’s summer and fundraising is dead. I am at my limit. I can add more job, but it will mean abandoning the sick cats and bottle babies on their own because I will be working 20 hours a day.

I hated it so much to say it, but, que sera, sera. All I can do is remove all the steps and shelves that the cats like so much to climb, so they cannot, one magic trick or another daredevil trade, stab themselves on the mesh, or kill themselves on their landing. Some cats just hate me so much because they have only got those shelves for about four or five months, and now already lost it. Some protested by climbing to the roof and got stuck there until I am home to get all of them down. I don’t know if it’s better or not, but expecting the world to be fair because I have been playing fair is like asking a lion not to eat me because I don’t eat them.

On my way home from purchasing chicken for the cats food I came across the old man who sold me the secondhand steel rack that now stores the cats’ life support. He had recently acquired several panel of iron mesh panels where a supermarket nearby had used as a partition. I asked him how much he would sell those panels, because it’s sturdy and painted and in good condition, just dusty and dirty, and he asked for USD 60 for four panels, which will cover the whole window and a little bit more.

Recalculation of the window work, that would bring the total repair cost into USD 150, only half of what it should be. One day off work which means I lose chance to money for vet care through the weekend (bank close) but 90 cats life safe and secure.

Que sera, sera, and that curse again, “Have you read about Job, sweetie?” but that’s for another day.

Our young welder have just put the first panel in place, as of the writing of this post. Besides, I need to treat the many cuts and punctures on my hand before I got tetanus.

Sierra just gave me her death glare because she was all giddy on climbing his motorbike again, but with green snot down her nose that makes her looks a la Hercule Poirot, it’s hard luck I am going to let her out of the house in the cold, even when she keeps showing me her fat deposit on her center.

In sharing all that happened to a friend, comes that USD 125 caturday challenge. Unfortunately we only have small window (of time) to match, but the good news is, it only takes a dozen of good people with USD 10 and 50 cents to have it done by the end of the week.

It’s hard luck that we can match, really, but, if there is a will, there should be a way, or I hope so.

~ Josie


She wears the most luxurious dress. She has the most beautiful face, clean and radiant; she does not even need glass slippers to enhance her beauty.

But midnight bang had returned her riches back to rags, full of cinder when she crashed my leg as I waited for the traffic to clear its way for me to cross the street.

Maybe, she was running from her prince; maybe, she was running from her bullying step mother and mean sisters. Maybe, she was just running from the world.

Her eyes wide in terror when I lift her up and cradle her in my arms, but she forgotten about that fairy tale advice to go home before the night turn to dawn, when the other hand that tried to hold her so much offered a warm, fresh steamed tuna.

Still it took me a while. She continues eating, she gradually lost her shame and let her hunger overcome her with boldness and courage to ask more, leaving small conscience not to let me put her in my bag.

There are people watching, and all of them too, forgotten their merchandise in the lure of curiosity and a little gamble with themselves. “Will she give up? Will she prevail?” I heard whispers saying no one had been able to contain her before.

Of all few things that I have, time is not among them, but patience. If she asked, she is answered. One strip of tuna, the second and the third. The fourth came with persuasion, so with the fifth, and sixth.

She was so skinny six strips of chubby tuna won’t pop that sunk waistline.

She didn’t have waistline.

Some said seven is the lucky number. Chinese said eight is, because it looks like infinity. Some other said it’s the number nine, because it’s the ultimate, before ashes back to ashes and dust back to dust in zero.

Some said six is the devil, but six she had, and I was stupid to gave her so much power to fight me.

Stupid maybe, but if prince charming didn’t go the stupid way of checking one girl after another instead of posting on Facebook – for example, or just be convenient and marry someone else, how can he be sure the lady is the one?

She saw my face turned dark and sad, eventually. She couldn’t understand what I am saying, but it doesn’t take a genius to decipher the language of the heart, and finally accepted my invitation.

Even so, she is still running. She ran from people whoever popped from the door, she ran from cats who wants her spot, she ran from the prayers of the mosque, she ran from the night, she ran from the day.

She ran until her hunger overcome her and give her back the boldness and courage to ask.

May I try the slipper?

And when she asked, she is answered.

~ Josie


The Devil and Miss Prym

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

So, let’s start with USD 150. It was supposed to go to the credit card. Then, I will be on the right track for the remaining USD 125 out of our USD 450 mortgage. The job schedule is all set, after USD 450 mortgage it will be USD 200 loan, and then we have a bit of breathing space about a week toward the end of the month.

And then, the USD 150 that was supposed to give us in a good start got stolen; embezzled, whatever the name, and like the rest of the world would have it, the whole case will drag everybody to the middle of everywhere doing everything.

If luck would have it, though I know I don’t have much talent in luck, the money will come back in the far future, but for the time being, the credit card needs to be paid.

So I have to work extra for another USD 150, at the time I should be going after the USD 125. Mortgage cannot be delayed, so I have to work extra when I should be working for the loan, and loan will incur charges if not paid in time, even when the world will come to an end, so I have to work extra on that too.

All the breathing space that promised to come toward the end of the month? I planned to work extra during that time too, so I can repair the cattery window where the netting is already full of tempting holes.

At the other side of that large window is a sewer line, where our late Wizard will go to chase butterflies, but there are also barbed wire, glass shards, and many other protective measure that our neighbors installed to ward off robbers.

Everybody knows cats are a master escapist. Nothing can hinder them. Everybody knows cats are so masterful they can cross some mine field with their eyes closed.

But everybody also knows they spend their nine lives too easily, even though they know it will break their human’s heart into pieces.

Hence, it is imperative that I fix that window immediately before some curiosity kill some cats.

That breathing space has gone now. All the plans, all the thoughts, all the intentions, boom, poof, gone.

But then, as long as there is a will, there will be a way.

Just like tropical cyclone Maria, that spread her arms and hugged Bandung highland all the way from her sitting above Philippines. It’s skillet hot during the day but freezing by dusk. Sometimes the sun shines so bright but it’s not the sun for us. It’s the fridge’s light, because it’s still freezing at noon and fog lingers all day long.

It’s usually 17 – 24 C (62 – 75 F) at night, but in the past week, it’s 15 C (59 F) for us.

The whole bunch of babies that crumpled themselves together on my only heating pad got runny nose anyway, even when the heating pad never turned off. The grandpapas and retired kings got their stuffy nose obviously, and the ran over little kitty who have only tasted healing got cramps on his little limbs almost every night.

Baby Kai has all his older brothers and sisters surrounding him but he went sneezy eventually.

Purrcy has his calicivirus coming back, Julia has her green snot all over. I know where Vera is even without looking because her chronic pneumonia makes her snorts like a hog every two seconds.

So how am I supposed to work extra, if I can’t even leave the house without worrying someone is going to die on me?

“In the first place, you shouldn’t believe in promises. The world is full of them: the promises of riches, of eternal salvation, of infinite love. Some people think they can promise anything, others accept whatever seems to guarantee better days ahead…”

“It was all a matter of control. And Choice.
Nothing more, nothing less”

I know it’s impossible to rely on donations. I also know that if I stay away from the page, the donations stay away from us. I can’t be at two places at one time.

So I hauled my knapsack and shovel and pickax and the one ring and walk to Mordor. I don’t have my Fellowship, but if I do, I hope they take care of my page for me, and keep the cats fed and warm.

I was betting on the fact that people were basically good, despite all the Evil in the world.

And to those who take the bet and win it for me, thank you.

~ Josie

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

“In the first place, you shouldn’t believe in promises. The world is full of them: the promises of riches, of eternal salvation, of infinite love. Some people think they can promise anything, others accept whatever seems to guarantee better days ahead…”

“It was all a matter of control. And Choice.
Nothing more, nothing less”

The Devil And Miss Prym, is a novel by Paulo Coelho, published in year 2000


I just had to run. I really have to run.

So I run, and rammed through the door, and slam the door behind me; and slumped to the floor in my tiny bedroom that still smell like fungus in a thousand years old cave though I promised that I will fix it this holiday.

And there it is, still green and black and fifty shade of grey at the change of the month.

This place is my sanctuary, though ocassionally, one or two migrants come to join me legally or otherwise. I can’t throw out the babies and kids.

But it was particularly hard day. This cat fight with that cat, one other push things off the counter, one scream and the other cry, someone is at the door but I cannot rush just in case I ran over some kittens or step on particular tail. Despite my warning and all my efforts, some still pee under the door, or in the bowl, or somewhere in the middle of everywhere and I slipped and fall quite several times though I really do learn my lesson.

Maybe it’s the full moon, maybe it’s the girl’s mama’s screaming, maybe it’s Charlie the Prince of Persia chasing everyone round and round and round …

And I have to go to work, and I have to clean the house, and I have two more rounds of laundry, and I have order need a lift to post office, and I have to post and fund raise.

And I have to get out of this hell.

I grabbed my laptop and my hard disk and throw it into my bag, slather face primer, change my T shirt, blew like wind out of the house and onto the road and just keep running. Ahead of me is fourty five degrees slanted slope but I just keep running.

And a motorcycle cut my way just midway.

“Are you in a hurry? motorbike taxi?”

I climbed on and tell the rider to take me to the main road.

And then I run again, across the street, to the bus terminal, chasing the last one that just went off, climb on.

And I am stranded in this cafe I always run to when my wits come to it’s fraying end.

The waitress knows me. The manager knows me, and he waved his hand telling everyone to give me some space until I am ready, and tell the barista to send me a warm tea.

Chamomile. What I always ordered if I don’t have mixed berry, which, he probably sensed that it will just make me even more sour.

And there was this message in Instagram.

His English is unusual. It’s natural, more like me, it’s not text book like majority of ESL speaker throughout the country. It’s like he has been speaking English for the rest of his life instead of learning it at school and practice every day.

I took my deep breath. At time like this, God? Really?

And the curse and frown that keeps lingering at the back of my head whenever I asked for a break: “Have you read about Job, sweetie?”

I told the other guy I need to do something, I need him to wait and secure the cat, if he care, and I will be right there when I am done.

He said, he was not going anywhere for a while. He worked in that mall and he is done at that time, but he has a train to catch later that night and he didn’t feel like going back home and come again. The train station is just back to back with that place.

Fine. I dragged my laptop out, I took my deep breath, while the corner of my eye caught the waiter walking closer.

And I have to smile because he has nothing to do with it, and he is new and he is trying his best.

And I told him I am regular to that cafe, and I asked him to please be kind and ask his senior what I usually order.

He said he already knew. His senior briefed him before, and that he will try his best as I am his first customer now that he is an official member of staff.

And it just flowed. I am not happy with my post, but it flowed, and I let it flow. I have to cross half the town in forty five minutes, and Ramadhan is coming to an end, and everyone starts to go away, and the road is not going to have any mercy. Not any left.

And I gobbled down my sandwich like a barbarian dwarf of ‘The Lord of The Rings’, or maybe one of those sick young kings of the Lannisters in ‘The Game of Thrones’.

And I drank down my chamomile tea like the Galoises.

And I just threw my laptop back into my bag and swept everything else from the table.

And I ran the stairs and tripped on my last step but fast enough to hold myself together instead of diving head first onto hard floor

And I was such in a panic, with all that came crushing me, that I typed my PIN wrong.

And I felt the manager’s hand on my shoulder.

“Lady, you are going to be all right”

I looked at him. “I saw you often. You are a hard worker, you seemed to be a compassionate woman, you seem to carry a lot but walk with all of those on your shoulder gracefully none the less. You will be all right. Calm down, the world will wait. It cannot afford to lose you”

If this is not Indonesia, I will give him a big bear hug.

And then I run outside and waved a taxi.

And I arrived in front of the Starbucks where the guy said he waited with the cat out of breath yet again.

And he said, he had to use the bathroom and the cat wasn’t there anymore when he came out.

And we waited.

And we talked.

And he told me that he took his gap year trying to think what he should do in university. And he told me his parents are friends of the owner of the mall, and so he came to work there with his family’s special connection. He is not proud of it, but he thought, everything happened for a reason, so he will walk it as far as he can, and ask as many questions as possible.

And he is a Catholic.

And I said to God, the last time I was asking a question, the answer I received was: “Have you read about Job, sweetie?”

And he voiced his concern, and how he fell in love with the cat, and even give it a name: Socks, because the cat wears socks on both hind legs.

And I told him, I have this feeling that we will get the cat. I asked him if he wants to accompany me going around and try to find the cat, or just sit there and see if the cat comes back because it seemed like it is familiar with the area.

And that place is huge. It used to be about five clusters of residential complex, and now it’s a mall.

And we can’t find the cat regardess.

I told him I have cats I need to care for at home and that I cannot stay longer, but I promised the heart-broken and self-blaming young guy that I will come often and find the cat for him.

We part ways.

And I was on my ride home when he send me a message that the cat had come back.

The rider was sort of angry when I asked him to turn back. I know he would. The road is jam packed and we couldn’t move anywhere without taking round and I pay him flat rate.

And so I told him I will pay at least one and a half times.

And yet, when we got to the gate, I made him smile when I paid him double. He took a lot of effort getting back to that mall in less than an hour.

And I run like hell because I know the man should have gone to the train by now and if I am late even ten minutes he will definitely be forbidden to board.

And he was there, on the steps, with the cat laying down right by his leg.

And I saw his face glimmering with hope and salvation.

I took the cat, put it in my bag, and wished him a safe journey.

And he waved his hand.

And he said he probably will just stay in Bandung instead of going back to Jakarta and abroad next year for his degree, and adopt the cat.

And I remembered the cafe manager.

I told him “The cat will not go anywhere. I promise I will take good care of her. The world needs more of compassionate and smart people, so please go, because it cannot afford to lose you.”

He turned his back, I turned my back. It was like Korean drama.

And the cat went home.