“Is this cat yours?” I asked the little boy, looking at his backpack where a grey cat with soft yellow eyes was sitting inside and just peeking at us between the two separated parts of the zipper. The boy must have been between eight and ten years old. He seemed tinier than most Nepalese kids I had seen before. Although there were neither houses nor schools nearby, he was a kid ‘from the neighbourhood’, on his way back from school.
He looked at me pondering the question and then nodded insecurely. He took off his backpack, but he was not gonna show us the cat, instead, he carefully closed the zipper a little bit more. Then he told us why he was carrying his pet about eight kilometers through the mountains together with his stationary and books.
Us was in this case just Gyan; James and I listened to his translation later on, meanwhile we watched how the boy quickly continued his journey in the same direction as we. He came back into sight once more at one kilometer or so ahead while he crossed the long chain bridge over the river full of rounded stones in all sizes, mostly uncovered due to the poor water supply at this time of the year. Nevertheless the small stream was crystal clear, reflecting everything around us in at least a thousand different ways and transmitting the radiant sunlight even into the coldest shadows that the nearest mountains provided that day.
“This cat I have to carry with me, wherever I go. My grandmother and mother make me swear every day on the Buddha not to let it escape. If I loose it, that is is very risky for me. If I become ill on the way I will need it, as it is my only rescue.” “What would happen if you became ill?” “I will fall asleep and if they don’t do anything I will die. Only by drinking the fresh blood of a cat I can survive. My grandmother is a medicine woman, she told me when I was little.”
The boy did not look at us while he was speaking, neither when he had finished. He kept on checking whether the cat was fully inside the backpack. Then he greeted only Gyan and continued his way. By the time Gyan has finished speaking, we silently watched how the boy has reached the other side of the river and followed the trail between bushy trees and rhododendrons. That’s how he disappeared from our sight definitively. It has been a few years now, and I still wonder whether he’s alive and, if so, if that would be thanks to a lifesaver cat.
I have been recommended various times to try writing short stories. I had never really done that before, but decided to give it a try and publish some of them in this blog series Short stories from Asia. Hope you’ll enjoy!