"And everyday I wake,
I tell myself a little harmless lie,
The whole wide world is mine."
Rites of Spring (2008) by Angels And Airwaves
I can't sleep. I think I caught something sometime yesterday while watching Bolt with Shaki, Inn Shan and co and it kicked off with a sore throat - one which I attributed to the large cup of Coke I inadvisably downed during the movie but hey, it made sense at the time. Right after dinner, the sore throat turned into a raging classic spectrum of symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection; fever, headache, sinus tenderness, nasal congestion and an uncommon hatred of one's miserable self. By 11:00 pm, my head was trying to explode and I had to fly the white flag. I pride myself on being able to weather most simple illnesses, eschewing any kind of medical consultation or medication for the past 4 years - excepting one memorable occasion when I self-medicated using opium for a bad case of headache and sore throat (warning: opium is not FDA approved for treating the flu). I have always favoured outliving any damn virus using sheer grit and determination. You know it has to be pretty serious when I abandon my standard operating procedure.
I downed a cocktail of paracetamol (with a bit of codeine mixed in), loratadine and pseudoephedrine sulphate before I went to bed - the last of which, a decongestant, has the unfortunate side-effects of insomnia. It figures, since pseudoephedrine related to methamphetamine (or Speeeeed - say it this way, kids) and it had been used in the illicit drug trade to cook the latter. I was so wired that I've been tossing and turning the entire night before finally deciding to get my ass up at 5:00 am to blog. Anyway, one of the reason I started this journal was to deal with my insomnia back when I was in India. Maybe that's why I am posting so much less these days; I'm sleeping too well.
I've started walking to and from campus recently, after my car had a breakdown of sorts. It's just 5 minutes of footwork from where I live, and it's one of the prime reasons I chose MMMC over IMU, aside the whole get-to-go-India angle of it. I drive there most of the time though to avoid sweating up my shirt, but the weather is pretty genial these days (with the odd rain or two).
Last Thursday, on my usual route, I saw a cat in the distance heading my way and as I got closer to it, it didn't veer off or try to hide out of the usual instinctive cowardice of its kind. A housecat, I thought, or almost one. Quite unabashed, it trotted past me - looking up at me as it did in what I can only call that feline expression. Locke Lamora, the anti-hero of Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies said it best when he was shocked into awakening from sleep by a kitten sleeping on the back of his neck,
'Mew' the kitten retorted, locking gazes with him. It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. I was comfortable, and you dared to move, those jade eyes said. For that you must die.
As I looked back at it, the cat stopped walking. When I held a hand out, it turned right around and started homing in on me, eager for the prospect of a little petting,
I spent teatime with it, sitting outside a vacant house and playing with the cat for the next half an hour. It's very therapeutic, I think, to have a cat rubbing itself all around your legs and purring as you scratch behind its ears and neck. On some basic level, I believe people need to physically connect with someone else on a regular basis, if only to reaffirm that there's still some sort of bond existing between them and the living world at large. If you have kissed or hugged someone, or held someone's hand, or pet a dog or stroked a cat, you'd understand what I mean. It says to you, "I'm here. I'm alive. I feel."
I like that little myth about how animals can tell good people from bad. It makes me feel good about myself every time I win a stray's confidence - to make some creature trust me not to hurt or harm it. Have you experienced slowly lowering your hand onto a dog which is suspicious of you - which is shrinking reflexively in fear even as you reach out - but uncertain enough not to bolt and run away? It's like every doggy sense inside its little doggy mind is telling it to scamper - save one. It's that one doggy sense which tells it to stay put in hope of a friendly, loving touch from you. And then, there's that moment when you finally rest your hand on its head. Every fear and suspicion, every last shred of mistrust and uncertainty simply melts away. The tenseness of its every muscle evaporated right that very instance of contact, and its tail comes out from between its legs and starts to wag. All from a simple touch. Magic.
It feels kind of like when you kiss someone new, really.
That day, I went home feeling like my day turned around. It wasn't a bad day to begin with but it had been rather flat and grey - no real highs or lows. It would have been just "last thursday" for about a week before my mind finally consign it to utter oblivion, another lost day in immemorium. But something almost trivial happened, and it became different. I guess this is what people talking about when they say that something made their day. That cat was certainly something. I'm sure that all the other things that happened to me that day - going to class, attending my clinical posting, trying to get by in med school - are much more important than meeting and playing with a stray cat. I'm sure everyone will think the same.
And yet, I have this nagging feeling that we are all missing the point about Life somewhere.
P.S. Now, I don't want anyone to start abusing pseudoephedrine to study for exam or anything. Wait, I didn't just give you the idea, did I?
Had an awesome last Thursday,
k0k s3n w4i