A fellow blogger Calvin just posted about the loss of his pet dog, and this triggered memories of my own pets. I'm an animal lover. In fact, when first deciding a career, I had wanted to be a vet. Due to circumstances in those days, being a good vet meant overseas education. Money was a huge issue so I had to ditch that dream. As a kid, I'm also constantly fascinated by nature. In those days, National Geographic was the only series available to engross myself in the natural world.
I kept numerous pets as a kid. One of my fondest was my first pet kitten. God, how I adored her, and weirdly enough, mum who didn't like furry creatures about the house didn't seem to mind her either. I can still remember where I found her. In my kindergarten years, I lived in amongst a row of houses situated behind a row of shops and eateries. I would cruise in and out of those shops at my leisure, until the owners practically knew me and didn't mind. I even befriended some of the owner's children. A common sight in those shops were stray cats and kittens lingering about. I decided, after some persuasion from the kids there, to adopt two rather thin-looking kittens. Took both of 'em home, but one decided to leave after a day or two, so we took care of the one remaining and named her Mimi.
Mimi was the life of the house. I would play with her for hours. Grandma, who was still alive at the time, was responsible for feeding and 'disciplining' her. Seriously, she had a magic touch, and also a 'lidi' in her hand at the time. Mimi was so disciplined that she would only poop in the toilet next to the drain hole, or run outside and do her business somewhere in the garden. During meal times, she would never jump to the table or steal food, she brushed herself against our feet under that table, meowing softly until we fed her after dinner. It was so endearing and we didn't mind. Every time mum wanted to clean the floor, she would just hop onto the couch and sit there watching the broom or mop move, never budging or trying to chase the broom/mop. Bath times were fun. Sometimes mum and I would clean her when she was giving me my bath. She was always a clean little kitty, even when we allowed her to roam outside. I even made her a little cat house with a couple of boxes, complete with windows and a porch, which she totally didn't use, being active and all. Whenever I lay of the floor in the afternoon for a nap, Mimi would always climb and fall asleep on my warm belly, much to mum's amusement.
Once, my cousins came visiting and decided to feed her chocolates. They left a trail of tiny bits and Mimi would follow, nibbling each morsel. Big mistake, as the next morning, Mimi left a trail of vomit everywhere she went. And for the rest of the day, she kept coughing, heaving and was weak even a few days after that. Another incident that remain etched in my mind was one of the weekends when our family would go for outings, which I loved. Dad was hurrying us out in the porch and mum was rushing to finish folding the clothes and closed the drawer. I called out to Mimi everywhere, but she couldn't be found. Dad got impatient so we just went out anyway. When we returned 4-5 hours later, Mimi was still nowhere to be found. As I called to her, we suddenly heard a faint scratching sound.
Every time we called her name, the sound would appear, although rather faint. It was baffling but eventually, we traced the sound back to the drawer, pull it open and out she jumped. She looked at us, meowing softly and walked kinda wobbly. Poor little thing must've either been hungry, suffocating or traumatized, being stuck in the tiny drawer for hours in the dark. She must've jumped into the drawer while mum was distracted and didn't notice her among the clothes. Luckily, I brought home some leftover Big Mac that day.
One fateful day when dad drove home from work, I went to open the front gate as Mimi began racing to the front when she heard the car. She was fond of everyone in the family and usually greets everyone when they came home at the gate. Dad shouted for me to grab her and take her inside before he could drive in. Being the kid, I just grabbed her and flung her into the garden. After doing some flips in the air, Mimi landed on the ground perfectly on her feet and sprinted past me towards the car. Dad couldn't stop in time as he pulled into the porch...and ran over her right in front of me. I shouted in horror as dad rushed out of the car.
Immediately, Mimi started having spasms and twitched violently. Being so young at the time, even I knew something was horribly wrong and that Mimi was in severe agony. Blood started trickling out of her mouth and nostrils. And soon, the spasms stopped and she lay perfectly still. I sobbed uncontrollably as I watched. I desperately tried to get her to move and breathe. Both mum and dad tried to pacify me. Mum was in shock too. She hadn't seen me cry so profusely before. She began yelling at dad for being so careless but in the end, there was nothing to be done. My beloved Mimi was gone, right before my eyes. That, was my first brush with death and loss of a loved one.
That evening, dad buried her in the soil across the road. Early the next morning, I rummaged through a pile of construction wood that grandma collected and came out with a long and a short piece of wood. I went and got dad's hammer and some nails as well...and in the backyard, I began hammering the two pieces of wood together to form a cross. As I hammered, I couldn't control myself and started crying uncontrollably again. Mum and dad awoke from the sound and ran to the back, alarmed that I might be doing something dangerous. When they found me, I looked at them and mumbled in a shaken voice amidst the intense sobbing that I wanted Mimi to have a proper grave. I think mum cried when she saw what I was doing and heard what I had said. She told me to come inside to clean up while dad finished the cross for me.
When it was done, the three of us went out to Mimi's grave and dad placed the cross on the grave as we said a word of prayer for her. I still cried for weeks after that, whenever I thought of her. And to this day, I still remember my dearest Mimi, after more than 20 years.
Gosh, writing all this made me tear up again...