SOMEDAY HE’LL BE SATURDAY NIGHT

I saw him last year or two, perching on the fence near the graveyard and I stopped to say hi. He seems to be a nice old chap.

saw him walking home to that fence from a nearby slum and I slowed down to say hi

I saw him sleeping on the roadside ten minutes walk to the other block, and I stopped and whisper hi.

I saw him curling on the fence by the graveyard, with fresh blood dripping over one of his ears, and I stopped to say hi, then I asked him if he would let me help. He ran away.

I came every day to that fence to see if he would trust me enough then; sometimes I saw him, sometimes I didn’t, but he never let me stay close.

Then I saw him no more.

A few months back I saw him at a new pet shop just blocks away from that fenced graveyard. I stopped and said hi and he looked away.

I saw him scratching his head and stopped by to say hi, but he walked away.

I saw him rub his balding neck and I stopped by to say hi, but he turned around and nibbled on a bit of cheap cat food nearby.

Well, at least the pet shop fed him.

But I saw him scratching his head to a bloody pulp so I stopped by and ask the pet shop people if the cat was theirs.

They said the cat walked over one time and they gave him leftover dry food, the cheapest of the cheapest, and left him to his own devices.

I saw him thin and decrepit, and I stopped by the pet shop to ask if I can pay them back of the food they spent, and have the cat for myself.

The pet shop said he is a stray cat, and what fate he meets when he was not there for the food, they were ignorant of.

But then, I saw him no more.

I saw him last week outside of the closed pet shop as the town locked down, unlike how I had ever know him before. He lost all his fur and had scabs all over his face. His eyes were full of pus and his ear was damaged.

I took off my jacket, wrapped it around him and brought him home.

He was not nice, he was not friendly, but why is he friendly, if his world is all pain and grief?

But he learned that others let him sleep alongside, and he learned that for kittens who run around him, he is just another grandpa.

He learned what minced chicken is. He learned what beef chunk means. He learned about boxes of sand where everyone do their business, and he learns about a warm soft blanket, where he can lay down and wipe his painful face.

He learned what a different world exists less than ten miles from his graveyard fence,  and from the cheapest of the cheapest pet shop, a few blocks away.

He learned not every waking hour is heaven, and that some time is just plain hell: cold, damp, wet, dark, but he learned that everyday whichever thunder and lightning come, however the rain pour, there is that invisible thing where he can look up and see the sky yet not get wet from the shower.

He learned that not everyday is a beautiful Sunday but Hey, man, he’s alive, he’s takin’ each day and night at a time. Hey man I’m alive I’m takin’ each day and night at a time.
Yeah he’s down, but I know he’ll get by

He’s feelin’ like a Monday, but someday he’ll be Saturday night

~ Josie
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Author’s note:
Hey man I’m alive I’m takin’ each day and night at a time
Yeah I’m down, but I know I’ll get by
I’m feelin’ like a Monday but someday I’ll be Saturday night
is lyric from “Someday I’ll be Saturday Night” sung by Bon Jovi.

Songwriters: Richard Sambora / Desmond Child / Jon Bon Jovi

Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night lyrics © Sony/ATV Music

Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

From the riverside to a safe home

I passed him last night as he stood still on the bridge, looking down to the blackened running stream far below.

I stopped by his side, and leaned on the railing. There was only black down there, except for the grumbling sound of the river. There was nothing in front, only the fog, dancing like a silk curtain dancing in the wind.

The night wind just flew past us. Swift, silent, but the chill that trailed stayed deep in the bone. It was close to two in the morning, and I haven’t stopped since four am the morning before. Even if there were some words that I wanted to say, I ran out of power and will to say it.

I touched him on his back, as gently as I can, as not to surprise him. I know he was deep in his thought.

I tapped his shoulder as lightly as I could as to not to provoke him. I know he was away in his consideration.

I wanted to open my jacket and wrapped him with it, but for some reason I just hold him with both arms and took him home.

He didn’t do much. He made it clear, not loud, that he wanted to go back to that place on the bridge, but even if he will go back there, I wanted to show him something.

I wanted to tell him about his people, from the same walks of life, from that place on the bridge atop a rushing river.

I wanted to let him listen to their stories, those that must feel close and familiar to him: Failing upon failing; hope in the horizon that rushes further away the more he tried to besiege it.

Chances long gone, life running short.

ignorance, desperation, desolation.

He didn’t get it at first. He just sat in the corner, looking to places far and away. He just curled up there as if he is tired, and he is tired all the time, all the way.

But whenever there is food, he sniffed enthusiastically upon his plate and finished whatever was there.

Whenever there were kids, running around like loose cannon, he turned his back and curl up to his sleep.

There was this spark in his eyes that I saw, three days after. There was some sort of a spirit that gave him power and a will to stand, then walk a few steps down for a bowl of fresh water.

There was this patch behind his ear that turned pink, and clean, and fresh; and I am sure there are more pink patches that will come.

Soon he’ll be new, I hope he’ll be new.

Soon he will look up, not down; soon he will be calling upon the sun, not grieving toward the river.

Soon, he will know he is home.

~ Josie
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Sierra – a “Happy Sunday” story

Five yrs ago Sierra was taped shut in a box and left by our fence under the rain; she lives with us ever since, and is fond of playing in our front yard.
My next door neighbor’s husband hated cats, but he is working out of town the whole week, so on weekdays she and her two daughters come to our place to play with cats.
Then they joined Sierra plot for world domination.

For one day every weekend, they brought Sierra home and played with her. The rest of the day, Sierra slept under his favorite bench. The other week, the ladies took Sierra home, and fed her there; to show that cats are not dirty, they borrowed Sierra’s litter box and put it in their garage. Yet another weekend they let Sierra lounge by his feet and the whole family watched TV together. On the day he was down because his elderly mother was ill, they silently let Sierra jump up and curl on his lap.

These days, the first thing he looks for whenever he’s back home is Sierra. The thing that he worries about the most is when Sierra is out of food. He plays his guitar with Sierra, teaches his daughters homework with Sierra, watches TV with Sierra, buys fancy toys for Sierra, sleeps besides his wife, but guess who is on his other side? 

Whiskers’ Syndicate is the place where both sides at war win. You make us happen. Whatever good magic you do, keep doing it, let’s make more Happy Sunday stories.

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A PEACEFUL HEART

A small presence, insignificant being. The voiceless creature no one even bothers to look twice at. Would there be any who think of their meaning, their worth, their existence?

Predators become the hunted, not by another predator, but by ignorance, self entitlement, those who clothed themselves with civilization, but only to cover their bare heart.

Yet the one who tells their stories is their prey. One who sees nothing, says nothing, yet hears everything.

A stroke of luck, a miracle, perhaps, but not just chance, when Sheilla and I ended our disagreement with me storming out of the house, determined to cease to exist. I didn’t bring anything, no wallets, no ID, no money, no cellphone, nothing. Just me, walking until my feet break and then walk some more.

She saw a peculiar dot on that empty road, looking for my trace; peculiar white dot in contrast of the dark asphalt, running left and right. She picked the dot up and found herself bitten so fiercely, she had to put it back down. It was a hamster; a harmless, gentle animal who is friends to everyone, especially (supposedly) harmless kids.

This one was born without sight, and without sight his already insignificant being became worthless. Just like the millions of kittens born in the kitty mill to a haphazardly, most often forced mating, only to be discarded starting mere minutes to their lives, because they were born with unfavorable colour, unfavorable length of hair, unfavorable shape.

If they didn’t make it past a few minutes, that’d be better, but to some, just like the little hamster, they’d grown into the ghosts that haunted this town, nonexistent, but real.

Sheilla took whatever was available to wrap her hand and pick up the hamster one more time, bring him home, took a box, and since then, this little being is a ghost that haunted my studio. He was technically nonexistent, but real.

We changed his hay, watched him make his den from wood shreds, bought him the best food. We provide bathing sand, and we giggled at how he ran to the other end of his tiny enclosure, to the place where food is there for him to dig and choose, stuff his cheeks full, and to the other place where water always drips, if he licked the little nozzle which leads to who knows where.

We know some of our shy cats would do the same. Waiting until everyone falls asleep, rush to the food bowl, sneak into the water bucket; but what about those who stay on the street? Not much different, but a lot more difficult.

In one of the hectic days that suffocate us, we would run to the studio just to catch a breath, with little biscuit and cup of coffee, and I would look at our invisible resident and say “He is probably the most unfortunate among us: sightless, hopeless. Yet again he is also the luckiest: he doesn’t have to deal with the world. He only knows there is fresh hay, bathing sand, fresh water, crunchy sunflower seed. He never knows the burden of the world, he doesn’t know pain, he doesn’t know danger. If someone or something tried to touch him, he bites.

If one day the world would turn over and everything smells different, he’d build again. Small nest to burrow and sleep during what he thought must be the night, savings of seeds for what he thought would be rainy days; tranquil days without storm or sun, serenity without the many headaches that often push us to despair.

He would never know that almost everyday at least one cat would watch him going round his world making life goes round.

Our cats would never know that every day, at least one of their kind lost their lives on the street; hungry, in pain, sick, terrified, and alone. Our colony would never know that, beyond their marked territory, another group of their kind had to kill each other just to live another day. Those whom our hands cannot reach would never know there is a place in their cursed earth called home, there are people they can call family. There are worlds that they should have.

There are peaceful hearts that they deserve to have.

We know, and it torments us that our hands are not long enough, our house is not big enough, our purse is not full enough.

If there is a peaceful heart, it’s knowing that though we fail today, we can still try tomorrow, just like our Hamtaro knows there will be fresh water and new sunflower seed. If there is a peaceful heart, it is knowing that through the magic of friendship with fellow humans around the world, we can bring healing, cure, love, care, chance, and hope. One today, two tomorrow.

If there is a peaceful heart, it will be like our Hamtaro and his faith that as long as he keeps on living – in the best way he knows – the world is a better place; we have faith that as long as we keep on giving – as best as we know it – we will make the world a better place: for one today, two tomorrow, and more everyday.

~ Josie

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Writer’s note:
“A Peaceful Heart” (published 1961) is the title of a fiction novel by one of Indonesia’s most prominent female writer Nh. Dini about a woman who seeks her place in this world and finally finds it in one of her love’s big heart. Nh. Dini herself was killed in a traffic collisions (due to ignorance by other drivers) on 4th of Dec 2018 (age 82). I am adapting her contemplative style of writing, the similar circumstances (of the novel and of the ignorance that took her life, to Hamtaro, The Whiskers’ Syndicate’s mobsters and my world), and the thoughts presented in the novel as a tribute to her 84th birthday today.

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Kippo

See?” I said to myself, “Good things happen to those who persevere”

“Didn’t you say before that it’s always darkest before dawn? Dawn comes everyday, you know, so it will be darkest before dawn every day, not just one day”

In front of me, Kippo walked like a drunken man just out of his night club, but he walked anyway. He takes his time, but he is walking anyway.

He learns, first, to use litter box – to our delight – because no feral ever done that before. We really would have understand if he soiled elsewhere, but the fact that he took all the trouble walking across the room to relief himself make us love him more.

Gradually, we put his food further away from him, and will continue to do so until he is back on his feet again. It might take weeks, it might take months, it might never heal and he would end up crippled, but we will take him as he take himself one step after another.

The boy with gashing wounds, meanwhile, was watching from behind us. He is a sweet boy. He follows us everywhere as if we are his mothers, he sneaked onto our laps whenever it’s available. We took care of his parasite, his stitches starts to dry; but his upper respiratory infection, not so much.

He has cold sores of various sizes on his tongue, so it’s painful for him to eat. We have to blender his food and give him his food through syringe, right to the back of his mouth so he can actually eat and get nutrition instead of crying in pain.

We have to be really careful with him because his upper respiratory infection is rather bad, but we are doing what we can as you all have to secure his better future.

We will be going back to the vet with the two boys on Thursday, by then with lighter footstep if we survived the extended matching challenge, We are told to be optimistic because it’s “just” $180, but we won’t count on things we do not have in our hand yet. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are not out of the tunnel yet, so to say.

As we celebrate the two boys’ moment of recovery, let us remain in our effort to ensure we deliver in our hope and promises.

Thank you all, we wouldn’t have gone so close to our goal without you.

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Vet fees again

While we can breathe a wee bit easier because Kippo’s surgery went well and he is now on his way to recovery, we are not quite sure how to secure his chance to better future, just in case we did not meet the matching challenge.

It’s between rock and hard place. If we just give what we have to pay for the vet (just so we can retain service for the rest of the sanctuary), we won’t have anything left to eat. If we hold what we have and buy food for the cats, we will no longer have vet service.

Just like this little boy, perhaps. We were thinking just that when we saw him crouched, puffed and arched between two bigger cats, fighting over a tiny scrap inside the garbage bin just by the roadside.

It was his only hope. If he jumped on the food he will get to eat after so long, because he was the closest, but he’ll die soon after by the pounce of the two cats. If he backed out, he’d be safe, but he will die soon anyway, and a painful slow one. He was already dirty and skinny, who knows when was the last time he fill himself in.

It’s somewhat easy for me, despite our current circumstances, to decide. I throw two chunks of my cheese sandwich toward the two big feral cats, and on everybody’s moment of fight or flight, scoop the kitten. It’s obvious that I made flight choice for him.

Later that night after work, while we sat down to clean him, we found three gashing wound across his body; an infected claw mark. Two had become abscess that eat him and leave a hole on his tummy. one other stretched a long way from just under his armpit to the middle of his hind leg.

Despite his young age, our little boy is a war veteran.

Then the reality sink back in. Do we have enough for his treatment?, but do we really just pour down silver gel on his wound and put him back on the street?

We know it’s most unlikely we will have any service left, but we called our vet anyway, and she told us to bring the boy in for stitches and all, again, out of good faith that over a decade of dedication on rescuing animals is a good reference of our honesty.

Can we really do give this kitten the safety of a home? A chance to change his life, barely beginning? Can we, loud with our compassion for animals, deliver through our action?

To be or not to be, that is the question.

~ Josie

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