Today I lost a friend.
A friend that came to my life because of a promise made by my parents to get me through high school, locally known as thanaweya 3amma. My mother in a fit of worry promised me a kitty in the event that I got 95% or above. My father didn't approve, but the promise had been made and couldn't be taken back. I never forgot the promise, not that it was something that pushed me towards studying, but it was the promise land on the other side of a stormy sea, the heaven to an educational hell.
Results came out and I didn't disappoint; in fact I surpassed expectations. My mother was in fear of me failing on account of my lack of extensive studying. However, God and private lessons intervened and I came on top with 96.4%. I was the "creme de la creme" as some professors, later in college, described those who were on top.
My mother had forgotten her promise, but I reminded her and as promised she took me and my elder sister to the pet store, where we saw half a dozen of fluffy kittens. However one silver, active, flurry kitten attracted my sister the most; he was jumping around in his cage, following us with his eyes and completely determined on getting us to notice him. When my sister poked her finger inside his cage, he went crazy, jumping up and down, his little paw extended, trying to catch the finger. My sister was intrigued and he sensed her interest. She got a paper towel and started to wave it inside the cage, he caught the tissue and then started to tear it with his tiny claws, soon the cage was filled with minuscule pieces of snowy tissue, and the silver kitty jumping up and down on them, making some pieces fly in the air. My sister asks the shop keeper to get us the silver kitty, so we can see it up close. She gave it to me; I tried to hold it, but it was too small and moved too much for my unexperienced hands. We let him sit on the ground; a little furry ball of energy, moving all around, stepping on our shoes and occasionally voicing out his interest in us in squeaky meows. My sister fell in love with him and she pushed our mother to buy him, saying that I will be upset if she wouldn't. In reality, I liked him, but I wasn't enthralled by him; my commitment-phobic self prevented me from wanting to have him. I was too afraid of the responsibility, but my mother was convinced and she did promise me a kitty, so she bought the silvery ball of fluff. I was greatly excited; at last my childhood dream of owning a kitten would be realized. My mother held him closely to her chest during the car ride back home, and she showed me how to hold him. He still squirmed around, but the moving car was scaring him a bit, so remained on my lap, while his eyesight scanned the world outside, curious about the journey with his new human friends.
We put him in our room, my sister went to bring him a piece of white cheese and I placed him carefully on the bed, careful not to let him go away until we feed him. My mother, on the other hand went to bring a plastic tray and litter from the supermarket. As soon as I let got of him, he started running around and jumping, I kept an eye on him. My sister came with the piece of cheese and placed it on the ground. We placed him in front of it after we divided it into tiny pieces. He started licking away at one piece, after he finished it, he got distracted by his surroundings. Suddenly, he was gone; we found him later underneath the bed playing with some dust bunnies. We tried to lure him out, but to no avail. My sister had to crawl underneath the bed and get him. He was very inquisitive and curious about his surroundings, eager to find out and discover all that life had to offer.
The first time he saw himself in the mirror was ridiculously funny. He kept jumping at his image, trying to figure out what this other kitten is doing in his domain. He was fighting with it, meowing his heart out, trying to overcome the other kitten. It didn't take him a long time to realize it was his own reflection. Afterwards every time he'd see a mirror, he would stare for a little while to make sure it was him and then he would walk away proudly.
He was a very smart cat and a peculiar one at that. He liked chips and chocolate, but he would never eat the local brands. He also liked cucumbers and dried fig, but his favorite food was sardines. He lived for canned sardines; it was his raison d'etre. He was introvert since he didn't really like other people; he preferred dealing with girls to boys and adults to the craziness of children. He loved sniffing (and eating) flowers and he wouldn't chase after anything that didn't interest him.
He also had a wild side to him; he loved eating bugs and climbing trees. He was a cat that stood up for himself even when other cats cowered in fear. He was tough despite his good-looks and elite taste. Many a times we found him wounded due to a fight with a cat; once he was fighting for his life, bloodied and gasping for breath.
He had children and grandchildren, he wasn't a one mate kind of cat and he had young mistresses as well as old flames of love. He never hurt a kitten; always patient with the ones younger than him and most of all he never forgot us, always eager to see us again.
He had a full life, as my sister said, as he did fill our own lives.
Rest in Peace Marco Polo, you were the best cat one could hope for.