July 12 2014 – Charmian Rasen
It was about 7pm on a dark cloudy day; as I walked out the gates of my house, I noticed a ginger coloured creature walking towards me; hungry, powerless and gasping for breath. His face was bloody with a chunk of his nose bitten off, the flesh on his left cheek eaten, ears torn in multiple areas; walking with wounded legs.
As he approached, I dashed into my house searching for food and water; hoping that it'll give him some strength and most of all, hope. He must have been starving as he gobbled 3 servings of what a normal stray would eat. Looking at him eat hurt me so much as he could hardly breathe with a disfigured nose; the sound of him eating and breathing sounded like that of a dying man. I haven't seen something so beautiful before; so fragile, gentle and loving. There were days where he would bring 2 other strays to my house for meals; after which, they would sleep in the porch at night and keep guard while everyone is asleep. Such a loving sight to wake up to every morning, knowing that we have love on our porch; the love, care and kindness that animals show towards each other is one that we as humans are still struggling to find.
On weekends, my sister would visit and stay with us (my mother, grandmother and lover). Having worked in a vet before, my sister had a rough idea of the process that the cat would have to face leading up to his final days, but we refused to let that happen; not on our watch at least. The wounds must have been exposed to soil creating spores which would gradually eat the flesh off his face till there is nothing left; a horrifying infection and the thought of him suffering that way killed us inside.
Sitting on the ground in front of us while looking up at us made us feel sorry that such a thing had to happen to something so tame and loving; we loved him dearly and the kindest thing to do would probably be to end his suffering; and end it we did.
We decided to take him to the nearest governmental veterinary to request for some help. When we reached and asked for Ginger to be treated, a bunch of workers from the vet stood around the cat, afraid to even touch him and said they would not help as the infection might spread to other animals. They told us to put him to sleep; how cruel can they be to just judge and end the life of this little creature. We stormed off furious at their way of thinking and brought him to a private veterinary.
The doctor told us the extent of his infection and that he needed to stay to be treated for at least a month. We knew that it would cost us a bomb but money was no object as we had a life depending on us. We decided to let him stay and get treated for a month; enduring pain and suffering from the constant cleaning of the wound with the dry skin being pulled off his face daily which creates a fresh wound but it's necessary for the healing of his inner flesh.
A month later, we returned to the clinic to finally bring our sweet Ginger home. The doctor advised us to keep him caged up as he cannot be exposed to more soil or dirt in the open as it would cost the infection to reoccur; and cage it we did. It tore us apart to see him locked up in a cage, crying to be released every time he saw one of us.
After almost a week of caging him, no sign of recovery was close. One clear night, my sister took him out of his cage, and decided to let him sit on her lap. While stroking him, we could see the look in his eyes; the look of freedom and joy that lit up his face. He kept turning and looking around as he saw a familiar sight; a neighbourhood he once roamed.
In that moment, something changed. As I looked at my sister and she looked at my lover, we nodded at each other and decided to let him go free. We knew that there is a possibility of not seeing our beloved Ginger again, or that he might get hurt again; but we couldn't stand to take away his freedom. As much as he loved us and we loved him, somehow we needed to let him free, to roam freely on this earth again; to regain his birth rights.
My sister lowered him on the ground and reluctantly removed her hands from his body. He took a stroll around the area; sniffing the ground, lying on the green grass outside our house and chewing on it as well. It looked as if he didn't want to leave us; but not for long. As he walked down the road slowly, he turned and looked at us as we stood by the gate; then he turned his head back towards the path ahead and stared for a while. I knew deep down that he misses us, but he too wanted to be free and have his old life with Mother Earth back again. Finally he took a last turn and purred at us in a sad tone while looking at us for one last time and took off as we called his name; Ginger, Ginger, Ginger.
Some say God lives in everything around us; in animals, the plants, trees, the air that we breathe, water that we drink, in people around us and the stars in the sky. He came to us as a stray, but he left showing us a way. I will never forget that moment.
He taught us so much about beauty; care and kindness for each other regardless of who we are and where we come from; and most of all, love and compassion. Experiencing that brought us closer to Mother Earth; it helped us understand that we are all connected as one; humans, animals, plants, trees, the wind, the ocean, everything. Though we may never see him again, we will never forget the love that he brought into our lives; and it's because of that love that we use the word 'he' instead of 'it' to describe our beloved Ginger; because he is one in the same as us.
Till we meet again, our beloved Ginger...