Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Confessions of a Cat Killer (part 1)
I was driving past Ampang Point, along the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) as I saw it. I was in the fast lane, though admittedly I wasn’t driving all that fast. A small flurry of furry activity darted out before changing its mind just as quickly.
It was a Friday rush hour, in theory the end of a long working day. There was plenty of traffic all around, rendering fast movement of any sorts almost impossible, but that’s not to say that movement of any kind is obsolete. We are not quite in Jakarta, ladies and gentlemen, where the term gridlock is very much defined by the second part of that word.
Once, I was stuck in the worst traffic jam possible in Jakarta, where three hours bought only about three kilometres worth of progress. Coming back to Malaysia, I was almost immediately stuck on the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong for an hour, and I was glad it was only sixty minutes of my life.
As such, the traffic was moving enough, if not quickly enough. A good thing too, for it allowed me more time to instinctively swerve slightly, nearly banging into the vehicle in the middle lane. I wondered what it was as I drove past, and quickly realised it was a small kitten; even from my car, during that one second I could see its eyes widened in fear.
I moved on and along the highway. Though I cleared the worst part of the traffic, I couldn’t get the kitten out of my head. Its ginger fur, coated lightly in dirt, belied the sense of absolute fear, clear and resolute, in its eyes. It must have been there for a while, trying to chance it across the highway without truly find the pockets through traffic at that time.
I thought about helping it. What could I do, though? To make a u-turn, go back and get it? To inform someone about it? What do I do with the kitten after that? It's likely that a catch-and-release operation somewhere nearby would land it in a similar predicament in the near future. That part of that town is forever teeming with cars, whatever point of the day it is.
I could take it home, of course, and care for it. However, the way I live my life makes it practically impossible at that moment in time. My house or apartment, for the most part, is usually a roof over my head, a place to store my stuff and my self at the end of the day. I don't even take my stuff out of the boxes anymore, forever anticipating a moment when I would be moving once again. There is no way I am capable of caring for another living being in the same limited space.
I neared an exit of the highway, the exit I was supposed to take. This is it, I thought to myself. What will you do?
I flicked the indicator, and made the u-turn. As I gently glided underneath the flyover to the other side of the highway, I realise that knowing what I was going to do is not exactly the same as knowing how to do it. However, this is a situation in which time is a luxury at a higher premium than usual, and I dove head-first into the situation all the same, trusting that time will shed more light.
Even if it’s a mere few seconds more.
I parked near the Hindu temple just before the Petronas at the corner near the International School Kuala Lumpur exit. Though my car was fairly safe, I had second doubts about my own safety; the traffic from the other way may have been slow, but this side of the tracks is a little too smooth for comfort, with cars whizzing by at a fairly regular rate.
I spent a few minutes by the road side, still thinking whether I should back out. Again, the questions come back: what am I going to do when I get to the middle?
Let's cross the bridge when we get there, which was tricky enough as it were. I eventually spotted a large enough gap, and stepped quickly across, taking ginger steps. I held my hand up to indicate to an oncoming vehicle, hoping that he would slow down. The driver did. I got to the middle, my shirt by now stuck to my body with sweat. The dust in the air is not all that desirable, either, and I wiped some of the dirt from my face, using the edges of my long sleeve.
I peeked over; the kitten is there, still looking for that gap. It darted out, then back again, deftly avoiding an oncoming lorry.
By now, I realise a huge flaw in the plan. I can’t assume my presence to have been a welcome one, a completely big factor to miss. I inched closer, hoping to not surprise him.
That was the biggest mistake. The kitten took one look at me, and for a few long moments that felt like an eternity, our gazes locked on each other.
Now or never.
I made a move for him, trying to grab him as quickly as I can. However, it wasn’t quick enough. He darted out again, a one tonne lorry came, and…
Well, you can imagine what happened next.
I picked up his body (flattened, but not splattered), still writhing with the last gasps of his life, and crossed the road. It was, after all, his last apparent wish, and I felt so incredibly bad enough as it is. He was so small, the whole body just about filling the palms of both my hands.
I laid him on the grass, and looked at him. I patted him on his head, said my prayers for his soul, and cross the highway once again.
I got into my car, and shut my eyes for a moment. I felt shaken by the experience, and eventually called my sister just to purge my soul of the sin I felt I had caused.
Until today, I think about that cat almost everyday, a badge of guilt I wear on my shoulder to remind me of my imperfection.
There are moments in our life when we feel as if we called to do something. Whether we like it or not, there is a certain force that draws us to do something, and our action (or its lack) is a reflection of the kind of people we are (or wish to be).
Whatever we wish to be, first we must do or do not. Whatever happens after that, we'll just have to live with it.