Nor own it.
This is a little Saturday story. Just a little story about a cat. A big cat. We call him BB which stands for Big Boy. Shaira gave the cat that name. And he's big because of us, we think. We "nourished" him a little too much.
He was not our cat, though we felt that he was, have been and will always be. After all these years, BB just never came back to us. Just stopped visiting.
BB began visiting us some years ago when he was outgrowing kitten-hood and at a stage when the world was his oyster -- that neighbourhood street where he must have lived and where my family and I still do.
I'm not sure, though, where he lived, or lives. It's still a mystery.
One morning years ago, I found this cat at the corner of my garage, just having a quiet stretchy moment. I was sure it was a male cat -- I'm quite knowledgeable about cats, having owned many when I was living with my parents, those single footloose and fancy-free (and cat-allergy-free) days.
When I saw him, I winked at him, as though it was the most natural thing to do to a cat.
He gazed at me, unperturbed. Must be sizing me up. Then he got himself up and together, and left. I thought nothing of it. He was not the first cat to have visited our garage, and I thought, certainly, not the last.
There must have been something that connected us, those few seconds. Must have been my wink. Because, he came back the next day.
"Hmm. Will you do this for the next 10 years?," I asked myself, smiling. He was a handsome cat. I could tell that he was going to be magnificent.
"But who do you belong to?," I wondered. He looked domesticated. A little scruffy in a handsome way, but clean and healthy.
Soon, he became a familiar appearance every morning. And we watched him grow bigger and bigger, and more handsome.
Friendly at first and then, familiar. But he never came into the house, for some reason. Perhaps he knew that we were all allergic to cats.
It was a strange but satisfying relationship that we had with BB. It was not that he was around the garage all day long. He'd be at his usual spot in the garage every morning, mosey about a while and then leave. He'd come again in the evening and then leave way past 10pm.
Even on rainy days.
Still, we were sure he had an owner somewhere.
Sometimes, as I drive around the neighbourhood, I try to look out for this handsome grey cat.
We'd never have to feed BB. He seemed well-fed.
I'd just talk to him, stroke him a little (despite my allergy; but I would quickly wash my hands after).
My kids would do the same.
There were times we were all away for the holidays. We never got to find out whether BB ever came over.
They were brief moments of tenderness every time we were with him. But it was an enduring relationship all these years.
One day, after years of warmth and, to some extent, love...BB simply stopped coming. We had wondered why.
"Too much love, perhaps.", I sighed.
"Or he's died." Shaira offered, morose.
"I hope not," I remarked.
Although, that, in a twisted way, would be better. Then, we'd know he will not ever be coming back.
Coming back? We forget that he was never ours in the first place. He never belonged to us. We'd known that the first time BB came over.
"BB was always just visiting. Perhaps he liked our place and he liked us a lot. But, now, perhaps, his owner has decided to really take good care of him. And he has decided to like his owner back. That is good for him," I told Shaira, as I tried hard to block out images of BB being run over by a car..
BB was never ours. So, you can never lose something that you never really owned.
"He doesn't have to be faithful or loyal to us. He doesn't have to be grateful to us. And you must never expect anything in return," I said. And...aah, have you also forgotten that BB is an animal?
There'll be other cats. Other BBs.
Shaira didn't find that comforting.
I know, I know. That's not the point.
Shaira is still hoping that BB will "come back".
"He must have loved us. Surely...", she said.
I'm not sure now, Shaira. But, we are here. He knows where we are.
Remember, though, that he can never be yours.
So, deal with it, my dear.
And don't be sad.