Growing up, I always had at least one cat at my house, whether or not it actually belonged to me.
My first cat originally belonged to our neighbour, Uncle Billy. When Uncle Billy was moving, the cat ran over into our yard, so scared it was of all the hubbub. I surmise that because it could count on a steady meal, it decided to stay. That cat became known as Mother cat.
Now Mother cat, as is almost obvious, became the mother of all my cats. Literally. Every few months or so she’d give birth to 3 or 4 kittens in the middle bottom drawer of my brothers’ bunk bed. So for a while, at any given moment there would be a minimum of 6 cats happily abiding with me. Just so you know, my Mother doesn’t like cats. She only tolerates them because they are tidier than dogs, in that they cover their poo (a moot point). Anyway, Mother cat’s kittens were all equally raised by her and myself. I fed, housed, cleaned, and loved each of them as my own. Which is why, I guess, I was so much more saddened than Mother cat when any of them were given away, or if they died. And they tended to die a lot. Whether by the jaws of a cruel dog, or the wheels of my cousin’s car. It’s just the circle of life.
My favourite kitten that Mother cat brought into this world was Jack. Jack was awesome. He was a dashing tabby (quite like his Mom), with green eyes and strong elegant features. He would meow me awake at 7:42 am every school morning, even though school began at 8:00 am. He would walk with me as I hurriedly ran to school (he woke me up late after all) and some evenings he would greet me as I came home. On evenings that he didn’t welcome me home, I was sure to find him curled up on a chair at the dining table. He was my little protector, always hissing at any dog that dared to bark at me. He ate my dinner when I couldn’t eat anymore and I needed it to disappear; he slept in my bed each night for five minutes until Mommy would come and shoo him outside. He never scratched or bit me. Except for the time I tried to feed him plantain against his will and he scratched my ear. And the other time I put him in front of the blender to see how he’d react and he scratched me under the eye.
I never expected Jack to die so soon, though. After all, it was just a tiny cut on one of his hind legs. The cut, after a week or so, turned into a huge, stinking sore, that warranted the amputation of the leg with a rather dull machete. He didn’t give up just yet though. For another week, he held on with the help of the painkillers we dissolved in his milk to ease the pain, and hopefully quell his mournful wailing at nights. But one fateful Sunday morning, as I made my way to Pathfinder Club, I found his stiffened corpse on the veranda, as though he had come to say his final goodbye. I asked my Mother to put him into a black plastic bag, so that I could give him a proper burial when I returned home. Because I couldn’t quite maneuver a shovel at the time, I asked my brothers to help me out. So we went into the bushes next door and found a spot under a nice tree on the hillside. My brother made one flimsy attempt at digging a hole in the rockiest soil ever and gave up. My other brother then proceeded to fart into the bag, thinking himself to be a riot, right before he flung it into the bushes.
Now, whenever I visit my Mother I can smile at the general area where my precious Jack is lain.
To my playmate, my buddy, my pal. R.I.P.