Accidental Attraction

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ I am lying on my bed. A tear rolls across the bridge of my nose under my eye and on to my pillow. I have cried silently for 24 hours now and I wonder if there will be another time when I don’t feel this horrible pain of loss.

Waiting for my friends Janet and Sarah at Casa Luna, I find I needed to keep walking, around unable to sit. When I am still, the tears start to fall again. My eyes, my whole face, are puffy from crying through the night.

“Don’t cry anymore,” my dear friend Ganceng tells me this morning as I pass him on the way to work. I nod. Every time I open my mouth my voice is hoarse as I choke back the tears.

It happened so fast. Just like every accident that happens due to speed. One minute you are speeding along and the next minute you lose control because of something, something that at normal speeds you could have easily avoided.

I look down. The motorcyclist is getting up. He’s ok. He turns to pick up his bike. How on earth did that happen? I walk around to see. There he is. Unmistakeable. The only white cat with ginger markings in our street.

He was from Jl. Suweta. He and his little twin sister were tiny kittens playing on the side of the road the day. Janet de Neefe, her two daughters and I found them. I would have taken them immediately to BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – but the girls wanted them. Janet said no but they could live over in my part of the Honeymoon Guesthouse complex.

He has the longest legs and his fur is pure white with ginger markings. Somehow I have dropped all my belongings and have picked him up. I know I am speaking but I’m incomprehensible.

Vet, vet, vet. Vet. It’s too late, I know. Vet, I am whispering now. Blood is pouring from his nose and I am covered in it. I hug him to my chest and keep saying his name: Mango, Mango. His body twitches but he is no longer in pain. Tears and blood are soaking us. I hear Yukde, a staff member, say, “No, not just a cat. He was her child.”

My friend Made is stunned. He was about to drive me to the nearby Casa Luna café and had just pulled up in his car. He has my bag, picked up from wherever I’d thrown it. The motorcyclist is saying, “But he just came out too quickly.” I look up at him. I know him. “You were speeding,” I say. “You were speeding.” How many times I have called out to people in this street to slow down. He was speeding. It was avoidable. A child? Is a child next?

It was my fault. He had heard my voice, but he had never crossed to me before. It was the first time. I hold my boy to my chest. His life is slipping away in my arms. I feel him. He has gone.

Made hands me a sarong and I gently wrap up his body. My friend Sarah arrives and walks with me to my room. I have to shower but I don’t want to let go of him. I wrap him up in another sarong, a soft, blue one, and place him on the bathroom floor. I need to shower to get all the blood off me.

Another blue sarong is wrapped around him and I go back out to sit with Sarah. I am holding him on my lap. His body is still warm.

The staff have heard and silently they start coming by. They have all had to catch him, and his siblings, on nights when I was late home and put him in my room. He was loved. “Mr Sombong” Edo called him. One or two laugh gently, not in any malicious way, but to lull me out of my sadness. I will, I promise, smile again, but now I can’t. Later other friends in Jl. Bisma stop me to tell me how sad they are for me.

Janet comes to my room and we talk about “things,” anything to while the time. I can’t bury him while he is warm and before I bury him I want to cuddle him, quietly by myself, and tell him I love him.

So much emotion over this cat! He wasn’t perfect – the New Year’s morning snake in my room and there was a mistake once or twice on the bathroom floor, but he, and his two siblings, have been my comfort when I missed my children and home as I sometimes do in the quiet of the night. They have bought me so much joy, my little cat and his siblings.

Staff Kadek Yoko and Jago help me to bury him, in the place where he had played so often in the past 15 months. Tango and Yoko Ono have come closer, both meowing as we place his body in the grave. The staff have bought offerings and place them on his body that is now waiting for the earth to cover him.

Goodbye, my beloved Mango. I love you.

The evening air is cool. Sarah has come back after work and we sit on my verandah. Tango and Yoko Ono are both sitting together on the wall surrounding the guesthouse temple. They sit quietly, neither doing what they normally do at this time of evening. They seem to be looking toward Mango’s resting place. They too are feeling his loss.

One day at a time.

Wednesday evening as I walk along Jl. Raya with my friends newly arrived from Australia. I hear the tiniest meow, another kitten, too young to be away from its mother. I pick it up and phone BAWA. Dr. Dewa arrives 20 minutes later. I know this tiny kitten will give someone a lot of joy.

Texan novelist Kinky Friedman wrote “…the love of a cat is a blessing, a privilege in this world.” I have, indeed, been privileged.

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