I've been going through the stages of grief:
Anger & Guilt
Despair & Depression
Although these phases still come & go in no particular order every now & then, I'm somewhat glad to say that I am slowly but surely moving towards acceptance.
It's funny how love sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I will never get tired of telling the story of how Karas & I met.
A friend was meeting up with an investment officer (or something to that effect) & asked me to meet him at one of the food stalls at the Ipoh Stadium to help go through the documents, because he can't read English very well. After a while, it started to rain. This tiny cat (not exactly a kitten, I estimate he would have been at least two months old by then) walked up & sat beside me. Naturally, I said hello to him, & without so much as an invitation, he jumped right onto my lap! I was kind of freaked out because his fur was dull, & there was crust on his ears which had also started spreading to his forehead. & I was wearing a pair of dark pink shorty shorts, so he was in direct contact with my skin! *horror face*
I quickly put him back down on the ground, but he immediately jumped back up, & gave me this indignant, fed up look like, 'Human! This is my birthright, & the sooner you come to terms with it, the happier we will all be.'
Meh. I let him stay there for a few more minutes. After which I put him back down again, & the same thing happened!
The stall owner said that no one owns the cat & I should take him back home with me. At that period of time, I was temporarily housing a young cat from the stables which had just been neutered. Her siblings had been adopted by a colleague, so I thought that this new cat could be a companion for her.
This was when he first arrived home. Look at that IDGAF expression. Hmmm.
When it came time to go, all the stalls had already closed for the day, & it was still raining heavily. Since I could not source a box from the area, I went to my car, grabbed my raincoat, bundled him up & carried him to the car. He did not flinch, & although was slightly nervous about the car ride, sat quietly on my lap all the way home.
It was while we were stopped at one of the traffic lights that I decided to name him Crusty Raincat.
At home, I immediately called the vet to have him neutered, but he had to have shots for his crusty-ness first. For the most part, he stayed in one of the book shelves in the living room, but would emerge when he saw me. The day he came back from neutering, he kept running after me even though the anesthetic hadn't worn off, so he kept bumping into walls & things! I had to sit with him in the living room while he zoned out on the raincoat!
I can't quite remember what happened after that but I think I took both cats back to the stables. A few days later however, the stable cat got ill so had to come home with me again. She did not make it. A day after she died, Karas got sick too. I braced myself for the worst, but he pulled through.
From then on, I did not allow him to go outside, I wanted him to be a strictly indoor cat. I couldn't risk him being out there by himself. But sure enough, he started to get curious about the outdoors, & I gave him the freedom to venture in & out as he pleased. Surprisingly, he was not afraid of my two dogs, even though the smaller one was jealous & would always try to block the door so that Karas could not get into the house!
Karas would even walk with me to my uncle's house down the road, & even there he was not afraid of our dog! In fact, they didn't mind sharing the porch - the dog would be on the inside while Karas would be on the outside, closer to the gate. He was not allowed into my uncle's house, but one day, while everyone was out, he snuck in & stole some chicken bones meant for the dog, leaving a trail of leftovers from the kitchen to the living room! The uncle was not impressed. Heheh.
'Dogs, thou shalt respect me!'
One day another cat showed up, a full grown adult cat. After a while, Karas & Tibbs were good friends, but soon after, Tibbs started getting jealous, not allowing Karas on the bed, & marking his territory everywhere.
When we moved to KL, I had them stay in a big cage, because again I was afraid of what would happen to them if I didn't. A few weeks after, Tibbs died. Not sure what happened to him, I just found him dead in the enclosure.
I decided to let Karas roam free again. I realized that it didn't really matter how much I try to keep him or anyone/thing else safe, if things were meant to be, it will be (seems ironic typing this, with all that has been going on recently). For the first few days, he stuck to me like glue. I knew he was afraid. Slowly he adjusted to life at the stables, but he never made any more friends. It seemed like as though he didn't want to open his heart to any other cat after losing two of his close friends.
He would still follow me around, though. If I hid behind a door or wall & pretend to spy on him, he would meow & come running & look for me until he found me. Yes, we are weird like that!
At that time, I had a room at the stables, so we spent afternoon lunch breaks together. He never liked showing much affection in public, I guess mostly because the other cats would start congregating around me & he didn't like that very much. He had a huge personal space bubble that he demanded the other cats respect.
Fell asleep while talking on the phone. Hahahahah..!
I remember the time I went to Australia for two months. When I came back, my father & stepmother took me to the stables & Karas followed me everywhere, although he still tried to put on a front & sat a few feet away from me every time I sat down. He didn't want me to leave though; when I walked out to the main gate, he followed me up to the guardhouse, meowing loudly.
Soon after, my room had to be given to an out-of-town colleague, & our time together was cut down immensely. A few months later, I stopped working at the stables, yet went to visit daily. I sorely regret this now. At that time I thought it was the best for him. There were vehicles, people, dogs and whatnot in my neighbourhood, & if I went outstation there would be no one to feed him. That & my landlord owns a dog, & his wife is terrified of cats.
On sentry duty while I treadmill-ed horses.
Karas would always be eksyen, but I knew he missed me as much as I missed him. I hope he understood why we could not be together, although nowadays I have started questioning my decisions. I feel like he only ever wanted to be with me. He did not mingle with cats, but he would give me sandpaper kisses. That cat trusted me with his life. Literally.
But maybe half of him also wanted freedom. Freedom to be a cat, & explore the world, move around as he wanted to. I wanted that for him too. I didn't want to coop him up in my room. I think because in the beginning I tried to keep him inside, he became rebellious & always wanted this freedom to come & go as he pleased. In the stables, he would often be up a tree or on the rooftops. In Ipoh, he used to stalk birds in the playground opposite my house, & play with the neighbourhood stray cats.
'Land ho, Capt'n!'
I learned a lot about love & friendship from this cat. I miss carrying & cuddling him. You know how that special being fits in your arms, & how nobody/nothing else will fit the same? Yep.
He was so soft & silky, even when we laid him to rest. Even though 'just' a stray, his underbelly was gold in colour, not the usual grey, black or white. & he had slightly longer hairs on the tips of his ears, like a lynx! People always mocked us when I said, 'Karas is the most handsome cat'. To them, he was just another local cat with no papers, no special markings, nothing out of the ordinary.
The series of events that we went through is amazing, & again I feel sad because we did not spend much time together towards the end. It really makes me question many things. Life is so short & unpredictable. Everyone can say these words, but how many really appreciate & live by them?
We were supposed to live together one day. We were supposed to spend the rest of his life together. But obviously it was not meant to be.
Disturbing him in his sleep.
Did I do my best for him? I would like to think so, yet at the same time many what ifs & could haves keep popping up in my mind. In the weeks preceding his death, I had random visions of him getting into an accident. I interpreted that as a sign that he should stay at the stables & not come with me. Obviously I was wrong. The night before that fateful day, a cow started mooing from the empty lot beside the house. It was slightly past midnight, & I even psychically scolded the cow for getting separated from the herd & told it to quickly get back with them. It was the first time in my life I'd ever heard a cow mooing that way, & in the middle of the night too. I'm not exactly a light sleeper, but it was loud enough to wake me up, even though my windows were closed. Maybe it was trying to warn me of impending trouble. Maybe. So many maybes.
My family always had at least one animal or another in the house throughout my childhood. Even if we did not want anymore animals, somehow or other a stray would find its way to our house & eventually be adopted! However, this cat in particular taught me so much. I don't know how. He just did. More about that next time though.
After his passing, I've questioned a lot about myself & life. Why bother trying, when at the end of the day, we still have to succumb to the Universe? If everything is already written, why should I even bother? If people learn in their own time, in their own way, why should I even bother spreading philosophy, yoga, animal welfare, etc?
I wrote this a few days ago:
t's been one week since Karas left. It's still sinking in.
I haven't really been in the right frame of mind to be as efficient as I could be. Most of the time, I wonder what my purpose is. What is the meaning of this life, if everything doesn't matter, if we're all going to die & if at the end of the day, everything is in the hands of the Universe...why should I even try??? I've been pondering this the past week. I find no joy nor motivation in the things that I was passionate about.
Only this afternoon did I remember this parable I came to know of a while ago: imagine you're planning a holiday to Hawaii. In the back of your mind, you know that after the holiday ends, you'll return home, right? Knowing that in the end, you'll still return home, back to where you are right now, does this stop you from planning the trip, or even cancelling altogether? No! Because it's not *about* the end point. It's about the experience itself. You do it to enrich your life, & to broaden your horizons.
I guess I just need more time to process everything. The dream still lives. It's just taking a while longer to come to fruition.
I had dreams to start up something in Karas' name & memory. Yet it is proving to be more difficult than I thought it to be. I know he would want me to be happy, & to live life to the fullest, now that I don't have to worry about him. I know he would want me to spread the goodness & not become a sour puss. Yet it is difficult to adjust. So much attachment & expectation, sheesh.
At the moment I feel the desperate need to some take time off for myself. In just a few weeks, the Universe took away a being which I considered a big part of me. I just want to get the hell out of here & just disappear. But we'll leave that for a more philosophical post. Right now I'm just going through the motions.
Sometimes he comes & sits by me, especially when I am having a hard day.
This is my current favourite prose, not sure if it is by Rabindranath Tagore or Swami Vivekananda:
I often ask myself at what point can a man & a beast that cannot talk recognize each other.
From early paradise, at the dawn of creation, runs the path where their hearts meet.
Although their connection has long been forgotten, traces of their continuing association has not been erased.
&, suddenly, in a wordless harmony,
a dim memory awakens & the beast looks looks on the face of the man with tender trust
& the man casts his eyes upon the beast with an amused tenderness.
It is as if two friends, both wearing masks, meet
& vaguely recognize each other through their disguise.
(Please note that most of my poses are written in advance & scheduled to be posted)