An Old Alley Cat
A furry face was pressed against the windowpane as the beady green eyes tried to peer at the street scene two stories below.
As the owner of the green eyes peered through the blurred pane made wet by the evening shower, she heard the scampering of feet and the numerous sounds of the backplane.
She nostalgically recalled the days she was a member of the four-legged residents of the alley. She was one of the fortunate few to be adopted by an eccentric rich lady who had a peculiar fondness for stray cats. She blessed the day and the delivery boy who accidentally spilled lily-white flour all over her as she ran towards a Mercedes. At that split second, her soon-to-be new mistress caught sight of the beautiful white stray. Her whole life underwent a magical transformation from a life of scrounging to a life of pure luxury.
She went down memory lane as a bolt of lightning lit up her old home, the alleyways. Her mother died within days of her birth in a wet dirty smelly paper box but a kind tabby cat took upon herself to milk her with her other litter.
Since that day she learned to fend for herself and fought for and over food with her adopted siblings. They were a wild unruly indisciplined bunch. They learned the law of the alley, to keep quiet during the day and night, to ferret for food among the dustbins and the kitchens, to fight for dominance among the four-legged creatures, to proclaim their ownership of certain choice stretches of the alley. It was the survival of the fittest and the most cunning.
Emerald, as she called herself, was sometimes too clever for her own safety. There was once she inspired her adopted siblings to raid a restaurant. They had a feast but it was the day that the exterminators came to rid the kitchen of its rodents and they were caught right in the middle of the exercise. They barely escaped with the skins on their backs. For a week she was boycotted and it was this week that gave her the opportunity to spread her paws.
Beyond the alleys, she saw the cozy comfortable life of pampered cats and dogs. She became envious of the choice of food she saw in the supermarkets – the Whiskas, the cat’s food on the shelves. She saw cats being groomed and manicured and clothed in cats’ pet shops. She spied cats walking daintily behind their mistresses as they went on walks in five-star hotels and shopping malls.
She continued to try to make out familiar shapes and sounds. She thought she saw a face she remembered from those days but it could be her imagination. Not many that she had known would survive long in those alleys and it was not uncommon for alley cats to be run over, beaten, chased, given a hot bath, or rounded up by the cat pound. How she managed to be a survivor was a muster to her these days. She was tough and there were many times she realized she had more than nine lives.
Emerald’s stomach had an empty feeling at the clammy thought of the days and nights she went thirsty and how thankful they were for the rain for that gave them a respite from the days of thirst. But cold days spelled hours of discomfort and fever and dampness, too.
Emerald’s eyes clouded over but she shook off the reverie as she stretched her stiff limbs. Her nose against the window sill was numbed.
The day was coming to a close. The rain had turned into a heavy downpour. Unconsciously Emerald shivered as images of her thin squalid-looking siblings interrupted her vision. She reassured herself that they, if alive, were fine or maybe they were no longer around.
Her sad thoughts were broken by the cajoling voice of her beloved mistress. She purred contentedly as she ambled towards the voice and soon was tickled and patted as she jumped happily onto the cushioned lap of her savior.
“This is the life!”