These are the last days of 2016 and I hope Christmastime has been kind and blissful to you.
As I was browsing through old pictures, I realised how many pets had accompanied me during my lifetime.
And as I saw the foto of Vlokkie, it made me grateful she too had been part of my life.
In June 2013 Vlokkie passed away, in her own time, peaceful on my lap and surrounded by her family.
I’d like to share with you the article I wrote on her, back in April 2010.
Aware of the sometimes difficult, if not impossible, translations I tried to hold on to the meaning or humour. Take for instance the name Vlokkie … Vlokkie evolves out of “vlok” as in snowflake or a patch. I love catnames with “o” in the middle and “y-ie” at the end, such as Tommy, Lofty, Moppie.
With this publication I want to reflect on the past in paying tribute to Vlokkie and all other creatures that gave, and still give me joy and their love.
My cat …
your grey-greenish inquisitive eyes look at me whilst growing bigger and bigger. Not because you see a little bird or you’re surprised, only because you’re slowly but determined crawling up to me.
Creeping up, one step at a time, kneeding at my far too thinny pyjamas, on top of my chest, you find your way towards my throat. Finally … with loud purring … you push your head sturdy against my chin.
As you conitinue to kneed along with your little sharp nails, my thoughts go seventeen years back in time.
No one wanted that tiny, fragile, hurted kitten. It was surprising, a miracle, she even survived such horrible injuries. A colleague of mine at the Animal Protection Society told me on the phone the little girl was just too ugly. Instantly I decided to take her into my home.
That same person and her son brought you to me. In a small cage with wads of cotton wool at the bottom. The boy thought you were so cute with the patches of hair scattered on your body and he was granted to give you a name. From now on you would be called Vlokkie.
I can still see you in front of me … far too big ears – bald with healing wounds and partially melted away by fire. The fur from top to waist burned away. The tail with a double knick at the end due to broken vertebra. The small throat and chest without hair, but full of red raw scars, scattered around the tormented skin. You were so cute, just like a baby bat.
That first day you were allowed to stay in my bedroom, far away from the big grown-up and nosey furry four-footers. Within hours my nose started itching. I smelt a certain odour in my bedroom. Your first night at home I awoke because you came up on the bed and sat down on my duvet. You were fast as lightning and I was terribly slow. At that moment I realised my duvet was full of cotton wool.
You give me a firm head butt and suddenly I’m in the present. Your little nails still kneeding at my still too thinny pyjamas. Your eyes looking up at me, squinting and playful. Your head a little bit wobbly, just like a kitten.
The head far too small, the front-paws shorter than the hind-legs. The cat proportions distorted.
You turned out to be almost a normal pussycat.
I love you Vlokkie, my cat the bat.
Copyright: YC Ravesteijn 2010; First publication: 24. March 2011; Second publication: 29. December 2016; Revised translation: 29. December 2016.