My Cats

51G3WT6D1NLWhen I was 11 or I do not remember exactly, my family got a cat which we named Blinky after that fat cat in the Tagalized anime titled “Ang Batang Santa Claus” on GMA7. Our Blinky was a white cat with patches of brown, yellow, and gray hair. I knew then that I’m a cat person and had been smitten by cats since.

The cat came to our home one day from nowhere looking for food. She was a juvenile cat when we had her. Perhaps her mother abandoned her as she’s too big to be breastfed. Blinky was feral turned tame after my sibling and I offered her a home.

She stayed with us for three years or so and got pregnant several times until one day we found her in the kitchen lifeless. Cats don’t live long in my hometown. They live a life on the edge, but I think it’s a life worth living. If I were a cat I’d rather live a dangerous life in complete freedom than be a neutered city kitty waiting to be fed tuna every four hours.

Every cat that our family owned after Blinky was called after her, and we referred to their kittens as Blinky’s kittens. We never bothered inventing names for them. Eventually these cats left the house when our grandmother moved in. She did not like how our cats had gone too comfortable in the house. Soon after, her discomfort was replaced with detestation, and so she waged wars against all our cats. Some time after, the cats were all gone.

I never had a liking for dogs. I hate their smell, the stupid look in their face, and how they try hard all the time to get the approval of people around them. Dogs tend to be too dependent on their masters. They want to be constantly pet and cared. I begin to lose interest the moment something becomes too dependent on me.

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Cats are different. Lest you think this blog has become fully dedicated to cats, it has not. It’s just that I have gone very fascinated with my pet cat Mimi.

Cats are very clean animals. Yes, they look down upon people, but once you get their trust, they’ll remain loyal till their dying days, save for some days when they ignore you no matter how hard you try to make them play with you.

Mimi is a kitten of a street cat. She’s a well-behaved cat who makes sure her poop is covered right after she’s done doing her thing. She can be demanding sometimes especially when she’s hungry. Bathing her and clipping her claws are my biggest challenges to date. I bathe her once every three days and clip her nails once in two weeks. She has enough play time and I vow not to make her fat and contented. If one day she decides to live her catty cat life and explore the world, she will have my blessing.

For now, I am enjoying my role as her master, equal, or however you refer to our relationship.

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Fifth

It was a rhythmically pleasant gnashing song coming from that moment of impact of the tip of the needle licking my skin, kissing it, biting it, then violently withdrawing, until droplets of reds oozed out only to be wiped away with a ballad of balled sterilized cotton. This happening thousands of times, as many number of times as the stated rate per minute on the label of a tattoo machine attached to a mini-transformer. This small device from where that beautiful pain emanated was held confidently by my brother.

He did two out of the four. Make it three out of five now.

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There’s no story here. He called the pattern ‘Samoan,’ but I did not feel like checking Google to verify his claim. He said it without trying to fake the depth of his voice. He never saw doubt in my face. I said let’s go with it. I will not wail if one day I find out this is in fact Rapa Nui or Inca.

Or just anything.

Going home

Davao has never succeeded in charming me. I left the city without any feeling of attachment to it. I’m now on a Yellow Bus to General Santos. Anyone who spent his growing up years in this part of the country will always have fond memories of this bus company. For us, these yellow buses are so much a part of our lives that we generically call all buses Yellow Bus.

The trip will take roughly three to four hours, depending on whom one asks. From there I will take another bus to Polomolok and then a bumpy tricycle ride from poblacion to our barangay, which I have not seen for more than two years. If I get lucky later, the tricycle driver may be a schoolmate in high school, or, if our memories will not betray us, in elementary school, and I will have my fare for free. Or if not, we can catch up on what has happened to each other in the past ten years, oblivious of the coughing noise coming from the engine of his tricycle.

Going home has always given me this odd feeling. I feel more like a visitor, a guest at my parents’ house rather than a homecoming son. I itch to fly back to Manila after spending a week home. Two weeks down my supposed vacation, I’m imagining going insane. The slowness of life in Cannery will drive anyone to the edge. It has never happened to my parents and some of my high school classmates who decided to stay, though. But I am sure it will to me. The longest time I spent home since leaving for college ten years ago was two weeks. It’s unimaginable staying longer.

But I’m thinking of doing it differently this time. I will wake up tomorrow to a breakfast of rice and fish I imagine my mother will cook for us. Then I will walk to the pineapple plantation of Dole Phils. nearby to have a good view of the beautiful Mt Matutum. And I’ll leaf through those dated volumes of New Standard Encyclopedia our parents bought twenty years ago and will reread those entries that comprised my early memories of reading.

I want to enjoy the days with my parents this Christmas. I miss them. I will give home another look, and perhaps doing this will let me reconsider staying longer next time. Or maybe, it will help me remember how nostalgia feels.

At work on a Sunday

It’s not because I am such an industrious worker. Most of the time I am not. My views with regard to work have changed countless of times. They’ve flowed and ebbed depending on the fulfillment and financial reward I derive from them. I could spring to as high as not expecting remuneration so long as the toil gives me some feeling of ebullience and satisfaction for having helped others, or I could neap to as low as counting every minute of it and not working beyond the final minute knowing that I am not anymore paid for it. Work has become so perfunctory (has it never been?) that I often dread going to work. There are rare occasions, however, that I regain my long-lost insouciance toward work. Sadly, I am not very consistent in keeping it that way.

Today, I left home at 7:15 for my make-up work from 8:00-12:00. That’s a failure to keep the Sabbath Day holy, the fourth commandment in the Decalogue. But the issue whether the real Sabbath is Sunday or Saturday is still being debated. Until the time Christians have settled the matter, I won’t feel contrite working on a Sunday (or Saturday).

It’s a downward journey, I hear most people say. Once one has given up his Sunday for work, he’ll have very few excuses not to give up his evenings, holidays, even those precious moments with people dear to him.

For breakfast, granola and soya milk

Oh and coffee, too.

My mouth is reeking with protein now. Looking at the bowl with the disgusting mixture, I am reminded of that infant food my mother would force feed my younger sisters when she was weaning them from milk. I loved Cerelac at first, secretly eating them whenever she asked me to help feed them. But I eventually had nothing but disgust whenever I see a bowl of Cerelac when one day, due maybe to my intermittent fits of greed and gluttony, I ate the entire content of a 500g box of this infant food.

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I suffered badly after that. I vomited the whole day and endured severe headache for two straight days.

From then on, anything that looks and has the same consistency as a wet infant food sends shiver down my spine. And the one beside me right at this very moment I’m writing this post looks like it.

An old photo

Thanks to Facebook and its subscribers who almost instinctively upload pictures unearthed from their files or old family albums and tag everyone in the picture, I am happily reminded of how malnourished-looking I was when I was very young, how my older sister was much taller than I and darker-skinned, how my younger brother was so fat and cute, and, most importantly, how straight my hair was. It was shiny and straight then, now it’s nothing but frizzy and thick and can only be controlled by having it shaved too close to the scalp.

This picture was taken during a birthday party of my second cousin, the kid in blue shirt at the center of the picture. My sister and I always looked forward to his birthday because it meant balloons, spaghetti floating in sweet ketchup sauce, and lots of sweets and toys given away. Images of that party, far removed from my memory until now, is very vivid I can almost taste the fruit salad, pancit, and lechong baboy; hear the laughter of children my age and the conversations of adults; feel my childhood that passed me by so fleetingly.

And see the piercing look of my sister if she finds out this impertinence–my posting here of this horrifying reminder of a past best kept hidden in memory.