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Nine Lives

I sat down on a dirty bench, breathing in the cold night air. It’s almost midnight and the vendors across the street were starting to close. The tricycle drivers just a few meters away from where I was sitting were having a debate about the usual stuff, e.g. politics, motorcycles, booze, women. Then I saw this cat, lying in front of a closed souvenir shop, blood dripping from his nose and breathing very slowly. It seemed that the cat had lost a street fight against a probably much bigger feline. Pedestrians walk to and fro but no one seemed to notice this beaten warrior lying along their path. Even when someone almost stepped on the poor creature, he still seemed not to be part of this reality. The cat is there, but it doesn’t appear to be there at all.

I walked toward the cat to see if he can still move. I nudged him with my foot, which was then deliriously clawed by his right paw. The cat still had some fight left in him. I scratched his ear to appease his rage. The gesture worked and he relaxed. I turned him over to his other side and saw that the damage was much worse than anticipated. The cat had a deep wound on the left side of his face and, from the looks of it, his skull was cracked. His eyes were out of focus, looking from here to there, trying to perceive what was going on around them but clearly unable to. Blood was still pouring from the wound; his left side was soaked in the warm crimson fluid.

I was mistaken. Another cat couldn’t have done this. A creature which has the capacity to inflict such damage would have to be a human being. And then, the question that bothers every human being pops in my head: why? Why did the cat deserve this fate? What possible reason is there to justify such action? The same voice inside my head that asked these questions is the same voice that answered them. Maybe the cat did something, like steal food. The same voice answers: the animal was doing what it can do to survive in this cruel world. Does it deserve to die just because it is following its most basic instinct? And my mind still tries to find the answers. But no matter how many times we answer, questions will still come. And no matter how many times we answer, the questions that come remain unanswered.

As the questions came pouring in, one stood out from the rest. What do I do now? The cat is obviously dying. Should I just leave him there on the ground where he has fallen? I could easily walk away, just like every body else. Who cares if this cat dies right here? Someone, a janitor or a metro aide, would just sweep his body and throw it in the trash tomorrow morning. Should I just be like every one else who doesn’t give a damn? A part of me wanted to do so. But that part was immediately extinguished.

I stood there, looking at the cat, thinking what I could do for this poor animal. There’s no veterinarian clinic in this town that is open at this unholy hour. The only choice left was to bring it home, wash his wounds, give it food and drink, and hope that he lives. If he doesn’t, at least give him a proper burial and not just throw him in the garbage. As I was thinking this, a boy who was collecting plastic cups and bottles on his three-wheeler to be sold at junk shops went toward me and the cat. He asked what happened to the cat and I told him that I just saw it like this. Without asking anything else, the boy took an old newspaper from his bike and began wiping the blood off from the cat’s face. The boy told me that they have pet cats at home. I asked him if he wanted to take the cat home and take care of it and he willingly agreed.

I was again mistaken. There are people who care. And from what I’ve seen, they’re the people that you least expected.

© 2018 Raige Maglalang

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