“Life’s a hint” I once told Amirul. It’s like a really good literature book, yknow. There’s just tiny hints scattered between the pages, we as the reader know but for some reason the characters would always be caught off guard when it happens. Which is rather odd. This is the story on how my first pet died. How life hinted me, I saw the hints but was still caught off guard.
Last week I saw a tweet of a conversation:
“How is it like having a cat?”
“It’s great. But if your cat dies, and you don’t cry .. you’re amazing.”
I saw the tweet, and it made me think – that one day my cats are going to die. They are apart of the life cycle at the end of the day. But how would I react? How would I be ? I even tweeted about it.
Then, I found myself to talk about my cats a lot this week. I told Mali about all three of my cats as if they were my children #catlady. I told her about Baby (the first), Jack (the dumb one), and Ed (the funny fat one). I told their stories and their traits. But I kept going back to Baby, and telling Mali how she’s the bitchiest cat but she’s my mom’s favourite. It was always a joke of whether my mom loved me more or baby more. How her meow was really soft, like it’s a proper meow. I told Mali about the time we first got her, and how she was so tiny that she ran into one of the steps of my house. How baby would bite if you stop patting her. I usually would talk about Jack or Ed more, because they’re younger and the memories would be fresher. I even made a joke to my friends that if any of my cats die, I need an emotional leave as if a family member died. That should’ve been hint number 2.
I would always leave my laptop on with a random Jane the Virgin episode for it not to be too quiet when I’m in my room. I don’t watch it, I would do my own thing – Clean up or organise my room. The episode that was on was the episode they were having a flashback on how Jane and Michael met. They were arguing and Jane said “Have fun with your cat!” and Michael said “My cat just died !”. For some odd reason, the words “My cat just died” would always catch my attention, and it would ring in my ears. Until now actually. That should’ve been hint number 3?
My family group chat was blowing up on Thursday. How my sister is asking my mom to bring Baby to the Vet because of her heavy breathing but no one could reach my mom. I called, non stop until she finally answered. My sister in law took a video of Baby breathing heavily but looking so weak. Her head rested on her bowl, and she had blood around her mouth area. News from the vet was that she was just having phlegm in her lungs, she was incubated. My mom made a joke saying it’s the same sickness as my nephew. Even though she didn’t go on Thursday, it stayed at the back of my mind.
Friday came. It was an amazing day. I felt good, I couldn’t imagine anything to go wrong. I was about to go home with Amirul, we drove home at night for once. There was a t-junction, and Amirul was about to turn right and then I saw a big round light. Amirul was about to go straight to the light of the motorbike because he was looking the other way. I tapped his arm, and he was getting closer – the light didn’t move though. I screamed and only then Amirul swerved the other way. I don’t know why I didn’t see that hint, that something bad was going to happen that day.
When I got the text from my mom saying “Baby dah mati.” It was so sudden. I was in shock, in the car I just looked at amirul and said “baby died” and burst into tears. In the Friday night KL jam, I drenched Amirul’s shoulders.
My tears stopped when I came home. I saw my mom and baby, on the floor in front of the entranced. Broke down a bit but collected myself to keep Amirul comfortable. It was my mom and my sister sitting on the floor with baby at the entrance, my dad watching TV and Amirul and I eating at the kitchen island. That was the first night, where I’d eat chicken and Baby wasn’t on the table asking for some of it.
The funeral went like this, it was done in the rain. My mom dug out the hole by herself at the back. Later my sister went over and watched as she bawled in tears. Ed was at the neighbour’s roof watching over us. He just stared. For some reason he looked sad and it’s as if he questioned it. He kept meowing slowly. Then, as my sister laid Baby down wrapped with a towel. All three of us burst into tears. She was stiff, she died in the position of how she would usually sleeps, curved in ball and her hand covering her eyes. My mom pulled the soil together and buried her up – repeating “Bye kesayangan Mak” (Good bye my love). She just kept saying “Tidur dengan aman baby, tidur dengan aman” (Rest in peace). As she was covering baby, she said that she was sorry. She couldn’t stop apologising for the times she was angry at her. For being mad when she doesn’t finish her food and wanting more. She repeatedly said “Mak minta maaf mak lambat bawak ke doctor” (I’m sorry I was late on bringing you to the doctor). And when she was done, she pressed down the soil together and broke down. She repeated bye baby, bye baby, bye baby. It’s what we would say when we go out as she watches us leave. But this time, it’s the last time we would say it, and it’s Baby that’s leaving us. It drizzled over us and the rain got heavier. Ed went over to where we buried Baby, and sniffed around it. We looked at him, he knows. He came over and walked home with us.
She was my first pet, she grew up with me. We first got her when we came back from London, she made Malaysia feel like home. Only 4 weeks old, she was the baby of the house. She would come on night car rides with us, and sit on the dashboard till she out grew it. She would lick my ice cream when I wasn’t looking. Baby made me love cats when I was terrified of them. She met all my friends, from secondary (both schools), to Pre U. They know how much my family loves Baby and how she’s family.
It’s the thought of no more grey fur would be on my clothes. The thought of no more meow as I’m washing the dishes. She’ll never be on the kitchen island anymore asking for a pat. We won’t have to go to the grocery store and search for her favourite food anymore. I came down the stairs in the middle of the night, and I imagined her at the end of the steps but she wasn’t there and won’t be there anymore. She won’t be the first one to greet us anymore when we get back home, peeping through the blinds. I hope we gave her a good life, with enough love. Nearly 7 years old, you made my life a loving one.
Life is a hint. But no amount of hints would actually prepare me for Baby’s death. Bye Baby, I will always love you.