FOUR OF A KIND

Good afternoon, I apologize for the uninvited message.

Yeah, hundreds more have done the same. Every single time I posted a photo on Instagram, masses of people told me to come pick up their unwanted cats. Some even give me clear orders as if from Pharaoh to his slave.
Overwhelmed by people trying to dump their cats over email, Instagram, and Facebook, I kept my phone number for myself and a few trusted people, hoping for some peace. This one passed right through the formalities, and seconds later popped in my Whatsapp messenger box.

“I was the one who sent a message earlier over Instagram. I am a ride hailing motorbike driver, and I got your number from vet A.

I was waiting for food that my client asked to purchase and deliver, when I saw someone pulled four kittens from under the hood of his car. That man threw the kittens to the ground, and left off with his car.”

Uh huh…

“Other riders who saw what happened, caught the kittens, while others asked for a box from the restaurant. Since we all have deadlines to deliver the food, and some other got an order to drive a client around, we told other riders who came to order food to take care of the babies. We keep on passing the job to the incoming riders while I called everyone I know, and one of my clients suggested I called a vet office, who then gave me your number.
If you can, please help, the babies are cold. It’s getting dark and it started to rain. We will soon have our orders again but the restaurant will close at one point, and all of us here don’t want to leave the babies alone, nor we can take care of kittens because none of us has experience and means to do so.”

Using Whatsapp, we can always see the other person’s number, it’s automated so no one can lie by deliberately inputting fake numbers. I called him by surprise and ask him his name. I asked him where he is right now, which restaurant, while sitting in front of the computer checking Google Maps.

I should be there around 6 pm. It’s 4 hours from then, but I can’t just leave my job and run off. I told him to keep the kittens in a box deep enough they cannot jump out and put the box as close as possible to the kitchen to keep the babies warm.

I called him again when I arrived and the man was jumping and waving like crazy. He was so excited he ran to the restaurant while leaving me walking behind.

It’s not that I don’t want to run and see the kitties, it’s dark and it drizzled on and off and I don’t have glasses. My eyes are getting old.

About five or six men, each with their own rider uniform, were gathered around the box, watching me as if I should fly. I got there anyway, not as fast as they wanted, but as fast as I could.

Four babies in the box were crying out loud, stepping all over the things the men put in the box. One bought dry food from a nearby mini-market, one other bought baby milk (human baby), the other bought bottled water, some other found an empty bottle, cut them down and used them as bowls. The oldest man in the group, his teeth as white as his hair, gave me a small bag of chicken as he grinned.

I spoke with people in the kitchen and asked if I can buy a chicken breast. They boiled a quarter chicken breast for me and I shredded it so the babies could eat, but they wouldn’t.
Of course. The babies are 10 weeks old at most. They haven’t got teeth.

I looked at them, one after the other. Ride hailing motorbike rider is not a lucrative job, but since its inception in Indonesia (by a young Indonesian Harvard graduate, who is now our minister of education) it has given a living to many families who otherwise would have been run over by the economy, and especially so after Covid. These men, who make their living hand to mouth, day by day, risk their lives hitting the road delivering documents, things, buying food, medicine, groceries, whatever people need online, and take those from one place to the other, where people stay safe in the security and convenience of their homes.

I put my bag down, used hand sanitizer, and shook their hands, one after the other.

Thank you, Sirs, I needed a reminder that humanity hasn’t rotted and died.
God bless you all abundantly.
The one who sent me a message bowed his head.
And thank you for giving these little lives a chance in our harsh world. The chance that we wouldn’t be able to give otherwise.

I took the box, and ran back to the taxi. I needed to get the babies out of the cold and the rain.

And I need to smile a little bit more, being happy that love and compassion are still alive.

~Josie

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HER LIFE MUST GO ON

She thought it will be happily ever after: off the street, simple home, enough food, peaceful days, gentle sun, twinkling stars, serene moon.

It doesn’t matter if those cracks that hurt her tongue take forever to heal. It doesn’t matter that she has to eat soft food to reduce the pain when she chews, when she swallows. It doesn’t matter, as long as she can eat, she can drink, she can live.

It doesn’t matter that her cracked tongue takes forever to heal. It doesn’t matter that she keeps catching a cold or other illnesses. It doesn’t matter that every time she catches a disease or two, it takes a very long time to heal. Life shall go on. Her life shall go on.

So it doesn’t matter when that little bump near her armpit keeps getting larger. She eats like nothing happened, she drinks like nothing happened, she lounges under the sun like nothing happened, she lives like nothing happened. Her life shall go on.

Until we found that bump when we gave her a warm bath (she cannot groom herself because of her damaged tongue). Whatever lurked inside had turned from a tiny bump into the size of a lemon.

As if the lot she has been through is not enough, “Mama” the only name she responds to, has a mammary gland tumour.

There was not enough time to fund-raise. There was not enough time to wait. The parasite had grown roots and if it bursts inside, she will die.
Her life shall go on.

So I took all the savings that should be paying our mortgage and send her over to the clinic.
The vets removed half a pound of meat that looked like a gigantic tick with five legs.
The sixth leg crept so far it attached to the rib and barely touched her lungs. With limited resources and a delicate situation, the vets cut that leg and left it inside, rather than taking the risk of ripping a hole on her lungs. Her life must go on.

To prevent the remaining tumour from growing, or slow it down if the remains of the tumour grows anyway, we refer her post-operative care to a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) professional who has treated our tumorous and cancerous cats before. Obviously she doesn’t enjoy the smell and taste of various roots and herbs and fruit boiled together to look like mud, but she wants her life to go on, so Mama takes it anyway. Obviously she doesn’t like the weird tastes of her supplements, but she wants her life to go on, so she takes them anyway.

And she still eats well, she still drinks well, she lounges under the sun, she enjoys her warm blanket, she watches the twinkling stars, and be sure the moonlight illuminates her fur.

I can see it well in her eyes.
Her life shall go on.

~Josie

Help Mama go on:
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Mama’s beginning: And I love her so

For love

There are many, no, countless times when someone ask me whether I am tired.
I am.

I am tired in my mind, I am tired in my body, I am tired in my heart. To wake and work from morning to morning with very, very little. To see something I want, something I need and tell myself that I don’t have that means now, and whenever I have the means, there is always at least one cat who needs a vet and there goes all my saving.

There are many, no, countless times people said they don’t know how I do it.
I don’t.

I don’t know how. I just answer the call, and do it.

And there are countless times too, when I told you all: my friends and family, that animal rescue, especially in this hell I call home, is lonely.

It’s as lonely as screaming your heart out but no one hears, it’s as lonely as crying your eyes dry but no one understands.

It’s lonely because whenever you need to talk, no one is there to listen, whenever you need a hand, there was no one taking it, whenever you need to pause, no one has your back. And even when you can do all that, no one understand
It’s you and you alone.

But if you were to ask why I did it, why I keep doing everything I do, the answer is I did it for love.

For the love I feel when I hold a bloody cat who just got run over by car, for the love I feel when a sick cat by the roadside looked at me, wanting to be seen, even just for one second, for one last time. For love when I extend my hand to a fearful cat who was betrayed and ended up in the dumpster. He even still had his collar on him. His name is Hiro.

For love when I picked up the lifeless, maimed, or rotting cats left by the roadside or on some corner, and take it home to be buried.

I did it for love. For love of friends miles away who did everything they can so I can save one more life. For love of strangers who bravely call me their daughter, sister, and do what a mother must do and what sister will do so I can go one step further.

I did it for love. The love that found me with only USD 50 on Wednesday night and warped me to more USD by Friday morning. The love of many people I probably would never see the rest of my life, but share the same heart, same passion, same mercy toward creatures.

I did it for love, and I am glad I do, because drowned in the ocean of silence and darkness, love speaks through the eyes of these cats: killed, abandoned, neglected, thrown away, abused, disregarded.

And because drowned in the ocean of silence and darkness, love answers those eyes with you all.

Thank you. Fifty Dollars by the end of the week, and these cats who cling to the life that is their right will see love.

~Josie
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TWELVE

Elyssa’s tarot reading gave us the sign: something in our life will be closing. We know what it would be.
Twelve hours after, Rexie II opened the gate, and crossed to the other side.

Twelve years ago he was a four months old kitten who was dumped in the worst corner of Chinatown, losing the fight, dragging his hind legs everywhere in his last effort to cling to life.

Death would come as he tried to cross an alley, and a Mercedes Benz refused to slow down, if the small people of that slum: the parking lot guy, beggars, thugs, triad roaches block the road and made the bourgeois understand that it’s the cat’s life or his.

He was named Rexie II because that day when he came home with me, a dear friend lost her cat, so I gave her cat’s name to mine.

It took him months to reverse his calcium deficiency. Not twelve months later until he can use all his legs like a cat should be; but Rexie’s malnourishment was so extreme he has gastrointestinal problem all his life.

The first four years with us, every year he has surgery. Intestinal blockage, intestinal prolapse, megacolon, another intestinal blockage, chronic diarrhoea because his intestine cannot absorb nutrition as it should do. Something is always wrong with his gut.

Still, for twelve years Rexie is no less legendary. Even though he caught yet another illness, he walks and he runs, he jumps and he hunts, he climbs the roof, he catches butterflies, he endures all the stress from having to move from one rent to the other. When I finally buy this property and settle, he made himself king.

He eats what he wants, he sleeps where he wants, when he wants, he does what he wants.

Just like the wise king, he never forgets to go down and visit the small ones, cuddles with the orphan, made himself available for the sick. He sat with the broken hearted, he remembers where he came from.

Just like an old king, these past twelve weeks, all the illnesses that he conquered came back. We did our best, and do all the things we did together when he was sick, except for one: sending him to another surgery.

Like a king should be, he lives his last day with honour and dignity.

Like a brave king, and the grand one he is, he took his last breath on his favourite throne, closed his eyes, and let the heavens sing.

~Josie

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TWO WEEKS AFTER CHRISTMAS

Through up and down, crisis after crisis, worries, fear. Every day is a question of ‘to be or not to be’. The thinking of not doing enough, or doing too much. The wonder whether I do it right, or not quite, even not at all.

Every step of the way, I am watching her. Every day after the surgery, last day before two weeks long holiday. The painful wait for the clinic to reopen, and breaking my finger as I keep it crossed 24/7.
One step after another, first two, then ten, after which, fifteen. Just like the town slowly comes back to life. Totti embraces her new life in her new home.

She is still waiting: waiting for the gate to be opened, waiting for the heart to be opened, waiting for the love to be opened.

Waiting for the gate to be opened when I got home from work. Waiting for the heart to be opened when I spread my arms as I peek from the window. Waiting for the love to be opened as she runs to my lap, squeezing her head everywhere.

It has to be her smell all over me, it has to be her fur everywhere.

“But Totti”, I said, holding her up at her armpits, “It’s not me. It’s the universe. Friends near and far lending their hands. Families away behind closed doors, in churches, by candles; kneeling, knitting their fingers, their head down, sending prayers”.

Only Saints has the arms of God fighting for them. But the whole world is fighting your war.

Totti would wiggle. Escape from my grasp, running away, sitting by her bowl, waiting. Waiting for the gate of the kitchen counter to be opened, waiting for the hearty meal to be opened.
By then she no longer waited for love to be opened.

That love has been out poured and by sheer force it had broken open the way for her second life that waited to happen.

Thank you for making that life happen.

~ Josie

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BARELY

A new mother and her four babies were thrown away to a quiet SOHO complex near our sanctuary.

Barely an adult, she tried her best to protect her babies from other strays, evil people, and traffic. At the same time, she ran around in panic trying to find a place to hide in a vast, unknown, unfriendly land full of aliens and strange smells.

Barely able to walk, instead of staying put in the corner, the babies tried their best to follow their mama.
That I was there to witness the deadly chaos ensued, was because I tried to made it to a schedule on time, so I can be home on time, and steal some time to rest. While this week started with a long weekend, I barely got a little time to catch a breath to see what is before me, and think things through. Coraline’s surgery, loans due, business invoices, bills, comes at the same time.

How do I manage one panicked mother and four horrified babies with just backpack on a motorcycle? Barely.

Jumping from one stressful situation to a place full of strangers when they are barely out of my bag resulted in yet another chaos. I managed to get the mother into an enclosed pen. Though slowly, she eventually calmed down, breathed, drank, and ate.

Her babies started to roam around, though I confined them in the backroom just in case. One of them has parasites, but was kind of OK, Another one has parasites and a respiratory infection, and is in a bad condition, one other has parasite, respiratory infection, and is worse. This dilute baby, though, is terrible. Though I gave her fluid, booster and antibiotics, she barely hangs in there.

Coraline will have her check-up in eighteen hours, but I’ll go early so she no longer has to be barely alive.

Come with me and join me in my efforts to help this family reunite in a second chance in life.

~Josie

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