Thursday, 8 June 2006

Sucker for Felines

After a two-weeks without iced drinks and curry, I entered a mamak1 eatery and got myself re-acquainted with fried noodles, curry and roti canai (with kaya, the local coconut custard). Not to mention the salty crispy fried chicken, gleaming yellow from the overpowering turmeric marinade. Who can resist the lure of a cheap and versatile staple that threatens the position of rice in my community?

Halfway through my fried noodles and chicken, I see a ball of fur. It saunters towards my table and sits down. It lets out a heart-rending meow every time I make eye contact. The humble cat may be a self-sufficient predator of the highest order, but in the city, it's not above scavenging or pan-handling. Anything to get by, I suppose.

I fall for it most of the time.

I donated some chicken, more afraid of the cat (which I named "Oliver") ignoring the morsels than the half-score or so vicious-looking floor staff in the vicinity. I finish my meal and go after my warm coffee. I take another look at the floor.

"Meow".

. . .

Darn cat.

I find myself picking whatever edible bits I could from the pile of bones on my plate and gathered them into a tiny mound. Fearful of the pinch of chicken-scraps falling all over the floor when I dropped it, I hesitate. Oliver encourages me with a swipe of his right paw. No worries about wastage here; he cleaned up whatever I dished out.

If the real Oliver had that much pluck, he could've taken Fagin on with only one arm.

The footnote of my catty day ends with the presence of another transient in the front yard. A black ball of fur that I assumed to be Cleo peeks out between the grills of the iron gate that shields the sliding glass doors. A careful peek behind the glass doors revealed a bigger, rounder face with equally bigger and rounder eyes, and a lot more fur. Not Cleo.

"Meow."

Good grief. The lair is becoming a cat hostel.


1 The local tag for an Indian-Muslim, as opposed to Indian-Hindu. While all Indian-run restaurants look the same, you won't find beef in Indian-Hindu places.

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