Love / This Filipino Life

Sublimation Pt. 2

I.

This happened last Tuesday (today is Friday midnight here).

I was walking along the sketchy sidewalks going to South Station in Alabang and I saw a hulking big dude go out of his way to step on a cat’s tail and grind the tail into the sidewalk with his toe. He was a huge fat fucker at least 250lbs and I saw that the cat’s tail was bent back on itself and broken.

He did that because he knew no one would stop him or do anything about it. Not even me. I know some of my friends worry about me, the things I do and the things I say when I see things like this happen, but even I am afraid of huge violent fat fuckers. (Serial killers usually start with hurting animals.)

Anyway I kept walking and I just cried and I haven’t been able to sleep well for a while because when these things happen it’s already too late to stop them. I could’ve kicked him with my pretty heel and then he could’ve strangled me and then I would die. I could’ve picked up the cat to take it to the vet and then it would scratch me and I would get B. henselae (cat scratch fever) and die.

He should’ve had parents who would teach him to be kind to animals. He should have had friends who tell him when he’s wrong. By the time he’s going around breaking random cat’s tails, it’s already too late to fix him.

II.

I’d just been full of restless energy since then, and I haven’t been able to sleep sound. I toss and turn in bed, and when I wake up in the morning I don’t feel well-rested. I keep seeing his body – what I could see of it under the pushcart – hunched over in pain, the broken tail trembling ever so slightly. And remembering how I stood on the sidewalk, staring at the departing dude’s back and agonizing over my decision to walk away / punch him / let him leave and take the cat.

III.

Guilt is omniscient.  You know it’s guilt because no one else would blame you for what you did, and yet you know with total certainty that it was your fault.

Guilt, re-framed relentlessly, over the rest of your life.

The only thing that ever works is to understand your guilt as not coming from the failing but generated by you as self-punishment, so that you can go on with the rest of your life.  Have you suffered enough today?  Then go out to a club and get drunk and make out with strangers, it’s fun. You’ve earned it.

The guilt always stays with you. Always. It never goes away. Never.

So either you reach some kind of harmony with it or it beats you down.  That harmony is sublimation.  

The Last Psychiatrist, Shame (abridged)

IV.

Today I went on a walk with my mom in our village and we came across a tiny white kitten crawling unsteadily across the middle of the road, just waiting to become roadkill.

Amidst my mom’s protestations (she doesn’t like dirty things) I picked it up and carried it home.

I put it inside the outdoors cage where we’ve briefly kept poultry (chickens and ducks) for a little while before slaughtering them.* I got an old box and some rags, and filled an old ketchup bottle with hot water and wrapped it in a towel so she could snuggle against it for warmth.

Then I fed her some milk in a bowl. She didn’t know how to drink from a bowl because she had only ever taken food from her mother, I suppose. She kept pushing her mouth against my hand. It was frustrating to get her to drink the milk, but eventually she learned and she finished the milk.

After she had enough, I put her inside the box with the warm bottle and she went to sleep. I left the cage door open, and made a barricade with some cardboard: high enough so that the kitten wouldn’t be able to get out and become roadkill, but low enough so that her mom would be able to climb it and get her if she wished.

Then I went out to get drunk with my friends because finally I wasn’t fucking driving myself and I could get fucking drunk.  I made dinner and tried to make friends with the dog but she was having none of it. (Dogs take on the personality of their owner, and her owner – my friend’s dad – democratically hates ALL people.) We drank Cuervo and we played “Would you rather…” And I asked them, which presidential candidate would you have sex with? And one of my friends claimed that Grace Poe is hot in person and she paid for their lunches one time, but I am not sure that I can believe that she is hot in person.

I got home at midnight and, swaying as unsteadily as the kitten when I first saw her, went to check on her. While I was looking at her sleeping inside the box, I heard a soft but insistent mewling. (The mewl of a kitten is much different from the meow of a grown cat.) I walked a little ways down the road and saw an identical kitten once again crawling across the fucking road and waiting to become roadkill just like my dead dog.

So I picked up the stupid thing and took it to the cage to join the first kitten. I watched them crawl rather pointlessly all over each other for a bit.

Then I noticed a white cat sitting about 10 feet or so away and watching me watching them, and meowing a little bit. I thought it might be the mom, so I took one kitten out of the cage and put it down on the ground.

Then I ran off and hid behind a car and waited to see what she would do.

She just fucking sat there like an idiot while the kitten crawled all around the sidewalk under the dim orange streetlights in that helpless, stupid manner of young things new to the world.

So I got her and picked her up and stroked her jaw for a while to make her happy.

Then I saw another white cat! Again watching us. Repeat the same scenario. Except this time, instead of crawling around in circles, the kitten went straight for the direction I’d gone. Ignoring the white cat, who was: a) a fucking cat, her own species b) nearer to her and c) meowing at her.

There’s nothing in the world like the feeling of being desperately needed by a living thing who looks for you, thinks that safety and comfort is found with you and no one else.**

I watched her crawling towards me. She couldn’t really walk yet, only crawl and stumble and fall over. I walked towards her a bit. When she heard my footsteps, she quickened her stumbling and loudened her meowing.

My heart was moved indescribably.

And then the driver was like, “Can you go inside now please so I can lock the gate.”

So I put her back in the cage with her sibling, with the hot water bottle and some milk. She’s out there right now. I’m in my room. I will see her tomorrow. I think I will sleep sound tonight. ||||||

 

*I’ve slaughtered a hen once, by the way. I thought it would make me more thoughtful about the sacrifice that goes into the decision to eat meat, because I used to flirt with vegetarianism a bit. But it didn’t work at all because the hen was way too chill about the whole thing. I slit her throat with a big knife and held her over a bowl to drain her blood until she died of blood loss. She didn’t struggle at all in my hands, just stared straight up at the sky with one stupid chicken eye as the life faded away from her.

 

 

 

 

 

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