For the past year and a half, my life has revolved around kittens. I even have a little pathetic cycle; actively search for one, care for it, start to depend on it for my emotional well-being, lose it somehow, have a complete meltdown, actively start searching again so that the whole sad process can continue.
My latest kitten, Rajah, was with me for the longest. It seemed like finally everything was going to work out with this one—he was healthy, he was vaccinated, and he had quickly wormed his way into being my best friend (sorry, Tim).
I would pet him while he was puking up intestines in the hallway, and he would throw up his litter box dirt like confetti if I didn’t give him a hard-boiled egg for dinner. If he was really upset with me he’d pee in my bed—he knew how long it would take me to hand wash the sheets back to normal. When he was in a playful mood he would latch onto my arms in a painful gesture of love, either with his teeth or with his claws (both were equally unpleasant). I talked to him constantly, and because he became my friend after I had already spent a year living on my own in Rwanda, I began to really believe that he could talk back. I’d let him run out into a nearby field every day after the sun went down, and two or three hours later I’d have to trudge out there with my phone lit up, calling for him to come back. Last week he decided to stay out for the night (sometimes he needed a break from my incessant smothering). I had to go to Kigali over the weekend so I left my window open with some food in the house, hoping he’d return before I got back—unfortunately he has not.
Because he was so important to me (if I had a last will and testament, he would have been written into it long ago), I of course decided to go search for him on several occasions. My neighbors told me that they’d seen him running around their fields, but it was always some vague description with an unhelpful timeline. Our conversations would go something like this:
Me: Have you seen my cat? I have fear for him because he ran away and he is very small. I think a giant bird ate him.
Neighbor: Yes, yes! I have seen him. He went down the hill.
Me: Thank you! Do you remember when?
Neighbor: Ah, I don’t know. Maybe last month?
(He’s only been missing a week)
Searching for him has been like Finding Nemo without the happy ending; I’m Marlin and my neighbors are Dory.
“This way-he went this way! Follow me!”
Sometimes people would tell me that they had him in their houses—but it always just ended up being because they wanted me to visit. People have assured me that the whole neighborhood is now searching for him, which is comforting. It’s nice to know that your craziness is being embraced by the people who surround you.
I guess I just hope that if he died, his death was quick. And if he’s lost, he finds his way home soon.
Other than that bit of sad news, things have been quite pleasant. We now have a movie theater in Kigali (my family and friends back home will recognize how significant that addition is for my sanity). I’ve seen five movies so far (Oz the Great and Powerful, Die Hard 5, Ironman 3, and Gatsby twice—we have a limited selection); I often decide to go to a movie instead of eating dinner. We finish our term in a few weeks, so I have to buckle down and actually teach some stuff. If only I could find the will to lesson plan…
And now, because I can’t figure out how to end this entry, here’s a picture of my beloved lost friend, Rajah: