[Editor’s Note : Every week we will be publishing one chapter from Ansh Das’s book, The Memory Of A Face. Needless to say, we are super excited! Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24, Chapter 25, Chapter 26, Chapter 27, Chapter 28, Chapter 29 & Chapter 30]
Enter the cat
A week later, there was a change in their lives. After many hours of browsing cute kitten photos on the local cat adoption websites, they’d failed to choose one. Then Diano had come across an advertisement posted by a western lady on the asiaxpat website. She was leaving Hong Kong forever and wanted someone to take a litter of healthy kittens in. The three of them went over to the lady’s flat to take a look at the kitten. Cute had another reason — the lady lived in Pok Fu Lam.
They were impressed by the location of the apartment, which had a fantastic view of the sea. Diano pressed the flat number on the security intercom, which was responded to by a buzz and a “you may now enter” sign. They went in and took a lift to the fifth floor where Mrs. Matthew lived. On arrival, they were welcomed into a spacious living room by the rather plump Mrs. Matthew. The place was in disarray. Stuff was strewn all over the floor in various stages of packing. She gestured for them to sit down on a huge sofa.
“Sorry. The whole place is a mess. We’re busy packing. We fly in four days time.”
“That’s okay. We’re here for the kitten.” Summer said.
“Oops, my bad. I thought you’re here for the computer. Let me get them.” She left them sitting on the sofa.
“Computer?” Cute asked. “Giveaway or sell?”
“Sell.” Diano said. “They’re giving away a lot of books, plants and clothes.”
“Clothes?” Summer said. “Who’d want to wear their clothes? They look pretty big.” She gestured at a photo of Mrs. Matthew and a guy hanging on the wall behind them.
“If that’s Mr. Matthew, he’s huge,” Cute said.
Mrs. Matthew turned up at the door with a cardboard box in her hands. She walked up to them and placed it on the floor next to the sofa.
The three kittens were trying to jump out of the box but the walls were too high for them.
“How old are they exactly?” Diano asked.
“They’re cute,” said Summer.
“They’re two months old.” Mrs. Matthew replied. “They’ve been administered two vaccines already. The third one’s due in four weeks. I’ve got their medical cards too.” She fished out three cards from her jacket pocket.
Diano took the cards and glanced through them.
“So why aren’t you taking them with you?” asked Cute.
“They are too young to travel. Plus, we’re having a baby in a few months time.”
“Oh, congratulations,” said Summer.
“Thank you, my dear. Do you like them? Can you keep all three?”
Summer looked at Diano.
“We can’t afford three kittens right now. We’d like to take the brown one.”
“His name is Boris,” said Mrs. Matthew.
“Hello, Boris!” said Cute, as Diano picked up the kitten.
It stared back at them and then meowed.
“He likes us,” Summer said.
“He’s the naughtiest of the three, always full of energy and running around. It’s sad that I’ve to restrict them to the box. Don’t want any accidents.” Mrs. Matthew looked lovingly at Boris.
“How much for him?” Diano asked.
“They’re all free. I don’t want to sell them.”
“Thank you!” Diano felt relieved.
“You can have his toys and some kitten food.”
“Thanks,” Summer said.
“What else are you having to give away?” Cute asked.
“Well, most of the furniture would go with us. We do have a tall revolving office chair that wouldn’t match the study at the new place. So that has to go. I’m giving away the DVD collection and some kitchen appliances. I haven’t cooked for a week. We just order delivery.” She laughed.
“May I look at the kitchen appliances?” Summer asked.
“Sure. Follow me.”
Cute and Diano looked at Boris, who was curled up in Diano’s lap and licking his front paws.
“He looks comfortable,” Cute said.
“I don’t like the name Boris. It sounds strange.”
“It sounds like a bad guy.”
“He’s young. We can rename him.”
“Jai Jai.” Cute said and stroked Boris under the chin. The kitten closed its eyes and raised its head to give Cute full access to its neck.
“He likes that.” Cute laughed.
“All cats like that,” said Diano.
“I meant the name. Jai Jai,” Cute called out to the kitten.
“Jai Jai,” said Diano. The kitten opened its eyes and looked at them.
“See! I told you he likes that,” Cute said.
“Okay, okay. Just call him Jai jai. Ha-ha.”
Jai Jai‘s coat had a distinct pattern. The other two did not have any defined pattern yet. All three had green eyes.
Summer returned carrying a small oven and a knife set. Mrs. Matthew was holding a set of wine glasses. They put the stuff down on the coffee table.
“You’re welcome to take as much as you can. That’ll reduce my headache.” The hostess smiled at them. “Do you want to look around?” she asked Cute and Diano.
“Sure,” Cute said.
Diano wasn’t sure if he’d pick anything at all. But it was free anyway. No harm in checking out.
“Follow me, gentlemen.”
They spent the next half hour going through the DVD collection and picking a few of them.
“I want that chair,” Cute whispered to Diano when the lady was out of earshot.
“I know. Your eyes lit up the second you saw it.” Diano laughed. “But we don’t have any means of transporting it back. A mini van costs money. Even if we hired a cab and persuaded the driver to let us take it, there’s no way we can carry it seven floors up lah. It’s too heavy.”
“True.” Cute sighed.
“That’s it then. Let’s go.”
Mrs. Matthew gave them a small basket with a tiny blanket inside it. She also gave them a plastic bag containing cat toys. With their help, Summer managed to put her treasures into a strong shopping bag.
They thanked the lady.
“Thank you. Please take good care of Boris.” She turned towards Diano. “You’ve got my email. Please send me photos.”
“Sure.” Diano scooped up Jai Jai from the floor and put it in the basket.
“Wait. He’ll be scared. Let me give you something to cover the basket with.” She ran back inside and came out with a small towel and covered the basket. They said goodbye and walked out. Diano carried Jai Jai. Cute carried the oven and knives. Summer carried the DVD and glasses. They were all excited. While waiting for a cab, Diano peeked under the towel. Jai Jai was nestled up cozily. He looked up at Diano and let out a tiny meow.