He stood patiently at Tok’s kitchen door, his eyes were sympathy-laden, following my every moves. It was hard to concentrate on the ingredients when I felt like he’s breathing down my neck –sobbing violently asking me to let him in. Please, I told him, I need to cook a good Laksa Johor for lunch today. Stop asking from me, pleaseeee. An hour later, the smell of steaming fresh tenggiri was too unbearable for him. Starving, he pleaded to me for some. I could feel his claws up my left calf, going through my khaki pants. How could I carry on being so cruel to this abandoned soul?
Manis came around almost 3 months ago – on the day I came back to Tok’s house for my younger brother’s wedding reception. Mak Itam told me he’s very smart to show his face that day knowing that she won’t entertain to any stray cats – since my all-time weakness is cats (sorry Arsene Wenger).
He has this burning eyes and serious looking face for a 2-month old kitty. Still, I called him Manis – that’s the word that crossed my mind when I looked hard through him, deep in sleep after the tenggiri meal that fateful morning - and so did everyone although he’s so manly Pak Long thought it’s an insult to give him such a sissy name.
For the next 5 days, Manis was everywhere I was – my ‘siamese’ twin I never had. It was our morning ritual to tickle him hard before he deserved a heart breakfast. Then, off we went to spring clean the house – in and out. I was overjoyed seeing how he made my Little Women of Penang, My Little Angel and adults alike laughed with his antics.
His infectious gregarious spirit caught the attention of Tunggal – a yellow chick Pak Lang bought for his grandson, Afdal. In no time, Manis and Tunggal became inseparable. It was just so cute and poignantly thought-provoking to see a chick chasing after a kitten, who is actually chasing my Little Angel. They were having funs – lots of it. I was contented. This world would be a beautiful place for our future generations if we could forget about races, religions and customs to live peacefully and happily, if we could live the lives like Manis, Tunggal and Faris - Our difference is for us to embrace.
More than a week ago, I was looking forward to hug Manis on my balik kampung trip – Mak Itam told me over the phone how he had captured our neighbours’ attention, how he had grown up to be a handsome kitten, plum and all, how he understood everything Mak Itam told him (sit, balik, no, yes, sleep, etc.). He was an Angel.
Last Friday, I cried my eyes out after seeing a kitten playing around at one Tomyam stall – I thought of Manis. That was the first time since I knew Manis succumbed to internal injuries when Pak Long started the engine to his big lorry one morning a month ago. He heard a thud and saw Manis' fur scattered underneath his lorry. Mak Itam couldn’t find courage to tell me over the phone. Manis must have thought that the engine was the coziest place for him to spend a night after Mak Itam forgot to let him into his abode – a cage next to Tok’s house. Pak Long was kind enough to actually called the workshop to send someone in to retrieve Manis’ chubby still body.
I lost Manis and I wonder why they, the souls that matter to me, were taken from me so abruptly, so violently, my senses were numb. Alhamdulillah, after a deep soul-searching over the weekend, I take comfort that Manis and the rest came to me when they needed someone the most. Their precious souls are not for me to keep, like my earthly possesion – I should embody their values, spirits, dreams and aspirations.
Manis was only a kitten (some of you may say "for crying out loud, he's just a cat) but boy, he sure makes me feel special and I am worth-it of his friendship.
Sleep tight my dear Manis…May we meet again...
p.s. I hardly take photos of my cats - they say they will die sooner - but the kitten in that above photo looks like my Manis at his best - sleeping :)