It’s when the cat stands up and starts waddling towards me that I get to wondering what I woke it up for.
I don’t think I should have. It was sleeping all peacefully and stuff. And I just had to wake it up and get it to come to me. I guess it’s because this cat reminds me so much of the one my grandma used to have. It’s the same colour and everything. Same pointed nose, same green tail, and it has that same chubby look to it, too. But that cat’s dead now. Died ages ago, when I was about ten or something. I don’t remember its name or anything, but I remember it was the world’s laziest cat. That why, when I saw this cat right now, sleeping on the dumpster, paws in the air, and looking dead and lazy as hell, it kind of reminded me of my grandma’s cat. But I still can’t figure out why. I don’t want to pet it. I mean, I don’t even like cats. Don’t get me wrong; they can be quite cute and stuff to look at, but I don’t know… they just don’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But dogs, they are something. Better than cats, even. At least that’s what I feel.
That bored, obese cat my grandma used to have was really useless. You couldn’t get him to do anything. He slept. That’s all he did. No kidding. I think that’s what cats are supposed to do, you know, sleep for thirty hours a day and stuff, but I mean my grandma’s cat was just plain dead. He could have been a dead cat and my grandma wouldn’t have even known–it would have been just like her to think she has a living pet (her screws weren’t all the way in there, if you know what I’m saying.) Every time I’d visit my grandma’s place, back when she was alive–yes, she’s dead too now–I’d hardly go there to see her. The first thing I’d do when I got to her house is I’d rush in to find that stupid cat. And it would always be on top of this old washing machine, on his back, paws in the air, snoring like a maniac. You could stab his tail with a fork, dump a bucket of ice water on him, or set his whiskers on fire, and he would just be a damn masochist cat. I even pushed him off the washing machine a few times, but even after that three-foot fall that lousy cat wouldn’t wake up. It really must have been dead, I’m telling you. I don’t think I ever saw him awake or eating from its bowl or peeing or anything. You could hear that occasional meow if you spent enough time at my grandma’s place, but you’d always hear it when that damn cat wasn’t around, and you’d just be too fed up by then to even go investigate. That cat was a real mystery. I’m telling you, a useless mystery.
This cat coming to me now is clearly not useless. I got it to wake up after making enough of those sounds they like to hear, and after yawning and stretching and stuff it jumped off the dumpster it was dozing on and started coming to me. Do cats like sleeping on heights? I know they are good climbers, but still I don’t know if they like heights that much. Anyway, this cat clearly thinks I have food to give him, but I don’t have anything on me right now. I feel bad now for ruining his sleep. I know I feel pissed as hell when someone does that to me. Waking me up when all I want to do is keep sleeping till I feel like getting up. This cat’s not going to get anything to eat from me, and it’s all because I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing. I feel terrible about it. Really terrible.
Before I know what’s happening, the cat comes right up to me and sits down on its butt. Then it meows. God. It might be just me, but I think it just said, “Feed me.” It keeps meowing, while I just stand here, feeling guilty, wishing I hadn’t called it, kicking myself for waking it up.
“I’m sorry,” I say to it. “I don’t have anything to give you.”
I hope it will be understanding and stuff and forgive me and just waddle back to sleep on its comfy dumpster bed. But it keeps on meowing, getting more and more demanding every damn second, and then it stands up.
“I said I’m sorry, okay? I have nothing for you. Look.”
It feels silly to be arguing with a damn animal. But I actually want to do it. I actually want to prove to this cat that I was being a dumbass when I woke it up. I pull out the pockets of my graduation gown to show that they are empty.
“See? Nothing here. Now please, go back. Go back to sleep.”
I wish to hell it would just leave me alone now. Its sad, green eyes are making me hate my guts. But then, very suddenly, something strange happens. The damn cat decides to have rabies. I’m telling you, it goes all psycho and rabid and stuff.
I take a few steps back when it starts to rub itself against graduation gown. I get really nervous and start to dance around so it can’t bite me or anything. God. This demon just gets more and more aggressive and tries to claw its nails at me. It’s practically starting to foam at the mouth, for crying out loud.
“Hey, stop that! Get away from me,” I say, because I’m getting angry, too, now. “Shoo, stop it. I said stop!”
What is this cat trying to do? Take out its revenge on me? I said I was sorry. I really am.
My grandma used to believe in this thing that actually sounds very weird. She used to believe in many things that sound very weird, but this one sticks out to me right now. She used to say that if you have a cat as a pet, you should never ever hurt it or make it angry, because they fight evil spirits for us. What they do is, they sort of make an agreement with a jin or something that the jin or something should spare the cat’s owners and focus all its evilness on the cat itself. Like a sacrifice or something. It sounds like some Egyptian lore or whatever, but my grandma used to remind me that I should be grateful to her cat since he is the reason she has lived such a long healthy life. Obviously, that never stopped me from terrorizing her cat, and I still don’t think I put much faith in any of her stories. But now since this stray cat is just being a thug that won’t take no for an answer, I think it’s not leaving me any other choice. What really does it for me is when it claws at me one final time and tears my graduation gown. I see this humungous hole in it when i look down. I can’t believe the size of it.
“I said stop!” I shout. Then I get so pissed off I do something that’s not very nice of me.
I kick very hard.
The stupid cat goes flying from here to there, landing on the grass near the playground tree.
I don’t understand what I just did. And I don’t feel bad about it until I see that it isn’t moving after a few moments. I wait around thirty seconds or something and then start to panic. I look closely and I realize it’s not breathing. I panic like mad. I think I killed it. I’ve never killed anything in my whole life. Not even a damn insect or a bug or cockroach or anything. And now I’ve just gone and killed a fat, old cat. I just don’t get why it had to go all psycho. It’s its own fault. I had no choice. It ripped my graduation gown and stuff. And I said I was sorry. It’s its own fault.
“Why couldn’t you understand?” I say to the dead cat. “I told you to go away!”
“Hey, bro. Who’re you talking to?”
I turn around and see my friend Sunny standing at the corner of the Assembly Hall building. His hands are on his hips and he looks really beat.
I realize it will be stupid to tell him I’m talking to a dead cat. But I want to tell him what I was doing. Not because he asked me or because he won’t think I’m crazy, but because if I don’t tell anyone then I’ll go crazy.
“I was talking to that,” I say, pointing to the cat. “I think I killed it.” I turn back around, only to see that the dead cat’s not where it was anymore. It’s not on the grass. It’s nowhere. It’s not there at all.
“There’s nobody here but you, bro,” Sunny says.
It was right there, I could swear. On the grass, where I am pointing my finger, where there is nothing now. I stop pointing to nothing because I realize it looks really stupid to do it.
“There was a cat, right there,” I say to Sunny. “Didn’t you see it? It was fat and hairy and green all over. It looked really stupid.”
“Nah,” Sunny says. “I didn’t see anything. Anyways bro, your parents are looking all over the place for you. And what are you doing here? I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Everyone’s gathering in the Hall. Come on, they’ll be starting the convocation ceremony soon.”
I just know there was a cat there. I had woken it up from its sleep, it came to me, it kept meowing, it kept attacking, and I kicked it to its death. That’s all I know. I know I didn’t imagine any of it. Or maybe I did. Maybe this is what it’s like to become an adult. Your mind starts playing tricks on you and you slowly start to lose it. Maybe hallucinating that you killed another living thing is one of those rites of passage stuff. I turn eighteen in two days, and people are always telling me it starts to mess around with your mind, this becoming a man stuff. I swear to God I think that’s what’s happening. My brain is trying to kill me.
“Ali!” Sunny shouts. I wasn’t really listening to him, so I turn back around to him. “You coming, bro?”
“Yeah, I’m right behind you,” I say to him.
Sunny miles and gives a salute. Then he spreads the wings of his graduation gown like he is Batman or something and pretends to go flying around the corner of the Assembly Hall building. He’s always clowning about. I like it when he does things like that. It really cracks me up. But I guess now I don’t find it that funny somehow.
I start to follow him. I better head back inside to everyone waiting in the Assembly Hall. I think I’ve been gone a long time and my parents must be getting worried. The ceremony will start soon, too, and I don’t like how I look all shabby now. Still, I start to hurry up.
Before I turn the corner around the building, though, I stop, just to take one last look at the spot where it all happened. I look at the dumpster and the playground and the grass and the tree.
Was there even a cat at all? I swear I don’t even know now. It all feels like a damn dream to me now. And suddenly, I don’t even want to know. I don’t want to think about that right now. It’ll only make me feel more pathetic and sick about what I did. And now all of a sudden I hate cats. I don’t want to see another cat for the rest of my life. The worst part is I don’t even know why I woke up it up when it was sleeping all peacefully and stuff. I’m telling you, doing something without thinking can’t be good for you, can’t be good for you at all. It totally screws you up.
© Amaan Khan, October 18, 2018.