The Best Days of Our Lives

By Elizabeth Henzell

The Bali Times

Check your departure time, please! I begged Isobella. “Yes, yes,” promised my dutiful daughter, the one who listens respectfully and then does exactly whatever she pleases. This time was no different and when she finally did, my fears were confirmed. Whilst her departure was on Saturday, it was 10 minutes past midnight on Saturday morning. One full day earlier than we had thought.

I hate saying goodbye. That final hug before my child disappears through the hungry airport doors leaves me feeling like I’ve been punched in the stomach. I hate the trip home from the airport, when I sit, tears dripping down my cheeks, snivelling and wondering why, yet again, I didn’t bring tissues. Thank goodness I carry my ever-present sarong.

Those wonderful sarongs that have carefully gathered up all sorts of little puppies and kittens over the past two and a bit years here in Bali but which on other occasions double as an oversized hanky. Whitney Houston is singing I Look to You from her latest album, a gift from Isobella. Honk, honk – I am hopeless!

Isobella and Felix (her boyfriend, who left the previous night) had spent their Christmas holidays with me but, as all good things do, the holiday has come to an end and life must return to normal; and I am left with the memories of this wonderful time with them.

We played tennis and badminton. We salsa-ed and dined out at Indus, Ryoshi, Ku De Ta in Seminyak and so many other wonderful restaurants. We rode bicycles from Kintamani to Ubud and swam at Sengkidu and caught up with other friends on holiday. But possibly, unanimously agreed, the sweetest memory was the three days when Miss Kitty came to stay.

On the Sunday after Christmas, Ibu Made, mother of Putu, who used to volunteer with me at BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – came to see me. She stood on the bottom step of my terrace with her youngest, Made, a little boy with an angelic face and a temperament to match. Ibu Made had just dropped Putu off at Roda Internet, where she has computer lessons each Sunday. Not quite the same as the warm and fuzzy Sundays at BAWA, but still productive, as she is using a programme that helps with her English.

They had come to ask a favour. Just recently, explained Ibu Made, they had found a tiny kitten, wet and shivering, having been caught out in these heavy rains, and had brought her home. They were going to Singaraja the next day for a ceremony and wondered if I would be able to look after the kitten for the three nights they would be away. Of course, said Isobella, but I was more than a little concerned as my two, Tango and Yoko Ono, are spoiled and therefore very territorial. But yes – of course we’d kittysit.

Little Made, who had been standing silently beside his mother during our conversation, pulled at her sleeve and whispered something. Ibu Made turned to back to me and said: “You will give her back, won’t you?”

The following morning they arrived with Miss Kitty and our hearts melted as Made reluctantly handed her over, his beautiful brown eyes watching her and willing her to know she would see him again.

Kittens remind me of daughters during the sweetest little time when the world is pretty and butterflies need to be chased but never caught. Isobella was my human kitten with her green eyes and lithe limbs as she easily climbed and danced around our garden. She had a delicate nature with a smile never too far from her lips and giggles that tinkled. But let me not get too romantic – like my hissing, spitting Tango and Yoko Ono, both now nearly two years old, who were not handling this little interloper – Isobella’s late teen years were less than sweet. Life comes full circle and I now have a young adult who I admire and miss horribly.

Miss Kitty wasn’t in the slightest bit impressed with the large cage, nor the kitten food or toys. All she wanted to do was play with Tango and Yoko Ono. But they acted like a pair of spoilt brats, using language that would have made Sinbad the cat sailor blush! But this tiny kitten with a personality bigger than Brutus the Rottweiler would have nothing of it. Miss Kitty stalked them, jumped out from behind cushions and gilded bathroom doors, patting at their flicking tails and taking flight as their tempers frayed and they turned with menacing looks that suggested the worst, but then walked off knowing they too had succumbed to this tiny kitten’s persistence.

While she was with us we had her sterilised, with the permission of Ibu Made, of course. It is truly amazing that kittens and puppies are now able to be sterilised at an earlier age than in the past, thus saving unwanted pregnancies. She was home by 3pm and that was the only time we had any peace from her pouncing personality. (Anaesthetic does have that effect.)

We all went to hand her over to little Made. In three days she had won our hearts and the only consolation was that this little boy loved his Miss Kitty.

BAWA vets are skilled at sterilising kittens and puppies, so please donate and help make a difference to the lives of Bali’s own cats and dogs. Please ring BAWA 0361-977217 or visit their website, www.bawabali.com.

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