There once lived a boy who came across an exceptionally friendly cat; an orange tabby that when approached would purr as gently as the night breeze, roll onto its back and paw affectionately at whomever towered before it. It was a stray; it had no home and survived on the little food purveyed occasionally by a kind, caring old lady living just down the street. So, valiantly, the boy decided to take it into his care.
He saved up what pocket money he was given to buy cat food and would always watch on, so pleased and mirthful, as the cat gobbled down the food. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, whenever he felt bored or lonely, he would run to his gate and call out to the cat, and the cat, from its usual resting place in the shades of the drainage channel just outside the boy’s house, would yawn and stretch before crawling indolently out to meet the boy at the gate. A great delight would always come upon the boy when he saw the cat. He would carry it close to his bosom and run his hand through its smooth coat of orange, and confide in it the many tales of his life. Occasionally too, he would lie down beside it and just stare into the space before the both of them, enjoying the company of his feline companion and the sunny insouciance of the moment.
After a week, the cat began to yowl loudly during the nights and often got into fights with the other stray. The boy felt vexed for the noise had on countless nights kept him awake, and also because he did not understand why the cat had come to bear such aggression.
One day, he noticed a gash on the cat’s left cheek. He felt worried at first, wondering if he ought to ask his mother to take the cat to a vet and have the wound treated. But eventually decided against it, thinking that the gash would likely heal overtime (after all, strays are far sturdier than the domesticated and would probably be able to care for themselves) and that the cat ought to be taught a lesson for all that fighting and the ruckus it has been causing. And so he turned his back on the cat’s persistent burbling and went back into the house.
On the next day, while at school, the boy began to feel a certain apprehension, for the night before had been disquietingly devoid of the cats’ habitual hollering, and resolved to have the cat treated as soon as he got home. The apprehensions grew stronger as the day wore on, and there could survive nothing in his mind but pessimistic contingencies – what if his resolution had come a day too late? On his way home, he saw a huge pipe coming out of a manhole and several workmen with helmets gathered around it. The road had been cordoned off and the boy had no choice but to take the long way around to his house. When finally he reached home, he called out loudly for the cat. Again and again he called but the cat never came. All there stood in sight was the other stray, licking its paws and watching quizzically on at this strange, raucous being. But still, the boy clasped on to hope, convincing himself that it is but the nature of cats to wander, and that eventually, his companion would find its way back.
The days passed and still the cat never showed. Yet, every day, the boy would sit diligently by his gate for an hour; peering now into the shades of the drainage channel and now into the space before him.
A month later, as the boy walking through the neighborhood, he espied the kind, caring old lady setting a plate of food on the sidewalk for the strays. She happened too to see the boy and as she rose up, turned to him and said warmly: “someone’s gotta care for these poor little things.” And as she rose up, there stood, revealed like a surprise behind stage curtains, the now healthy orange tabby.