This day some 8 years ago.
We were on our way to Pet Hotel to pick up a puppy which my parents finally consented to keep after many many attempts of us pleading to keep a puppy. While driving along the sandy tracks of Lorong Halus, we saw a tower of smoke emitting from a nearby rubbish dump. The rubbish dump was ignited for some reasons and the flames blazing the pile of rubbish to ground. The scorching afternoon that very day did not help. There were a few Indian workers shouting at one another in some incomprehensible language. Effective way of getting rid of junk although not really that amiable to the environment.
While driving at a crawling speed past the blaze, we caught sight of a cat.
The cat was small and scrawny. Its coat was patchy, apparently from some skin disorders and probably parasites. What caught our attention was not the unsightly outlook of this wretched creature, but its attempt to jump into the blaze. My brother pulled over and we ran over to the heap of burning rubbish hopefully able to seize the suicidal cat. We were too late. It jumped into the blaze and there was nothing much we could do.
Before we could turn back and head for the car, the cat leaped out from any side of the burning trash. This time, with something in her mouth. It was a newborn kitten. She dropped the baby onto a grass patch nearby and then suicidally leaped into the blaze again. We made way to check out the kitten – it was still alive, eyes closed but still alive. Just then, the mangy cat came back and dropped the second kitten – a black one, before she charged into the pile of burning rubbish again.
The blaze was emerging and it was already scorching where we stood. The second kitten was alright too. In fact, I vividly remembered its mew the moment I picked it up. We waited very long for the mother cat to appear from the blaze – there were no sightings. It was then the thought of the cat caught in the blaze and unable to make way out haunted us. There was nothing we could do. My brother was trying to talk to the Indian workers to seek help but to no avail. Just then, she appeared again with the third kitten.
This time, she did not jump in anymore after she dropped the kitten onto the ground. She merely started licking them and tried to lie down. It was then when I noticed her eyes were closed, tearing very badly and she was very very warm to touch. But she was not the least concerned, constantly licking her kittens and checking if all three were around here. Moments later, she laid her head down, motionless.
That was how I ended up with my first cats. We did not pick a puppy home on Labour Day eight years ago. We went home with a few cats. And no, the mother cat did not die, nor was she blinded. The wonderful vets at The Animal Clinic performed a miracle – prayers aplenty from my family of course – and she pulled through it. Her eyes were revived after a few weeks, her patchy coat grew into soft velvety fur – and the kittens, all healthy, strong and stayed on with my family till now.
It was a dramatic encounter most may think – how I met Phoebe and her babies but to me, it wasn’t the drama that caught on to me. On that very day, I witnessed with my own eyes – the power of motherhood. How a mother would even die for, to leap into blazing fire, all at the risk of her own life, not once but thrice, to save her three babies. And on that very day, along the dusty streets of Lorong Halus, I was made to be convinced, that the greatest love of all – is none other than what a mother gives to her children.