Indonesia, Javanese, Woman
(Another one for the kids)
Berani slowly opened her eyes. Someone was crawling over her, sticking their legs into her belly and sliding down her back. She rolled away and rubbed her face, hiding her eyes. She could smell wood shavings; it was a smell she always associated with hamsters and gerbils. They were like captive mice to her, always behind glass and inaccessible. Not the same smell as the rats that roamed the floors and shelves at night. They were dark, furtive things that darted around the floor looking for food. The ones that lived in the walls and floors. She would like to run and chase and catch them! It was a vague thought, sleepy-headed and unfulfilled.
Hours later sunlight filled the pet store, curling around corners and waking the kittens who in turn woke the other animals. They could hear noises, soon the owner would come, the one that ran the store and fed them every day. Food! Yes, yes, time to eat! The kittens meowing woke the birds who squawked repeatedly, waking the entire store.
The woman arrived, unlocking and rolling up the protective gate over the doorway. She went to the back and flipped on the lights, causing all manner of animals and things to clamor for food. She had a system: feed the birds first, they were the noisiest. Puppies and kittens next, they were her favorites. Amphibians and reptiles were the last to be fed.
The woman got out the money and set up the register, then made herself a pot of coffee in the back room. She was now ready for business. It wasn’t long before she had her first customer of the day. A boy, mother in tow, wanted an owl, just like Harry Potter’s. The woman explained that they didn’t carry owls, but he could get a rat just like “Scabbers,” favored by the character Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter movies. The mother, much relieved, agreed and purchased Scabbers II along with a cage, a running wheel, and various items like wood shavings, food pellets and vitamins.
Berani watched the entire goings on. Her litter mates were more concerned more with chewing each other’s tails and biting one another’s feet and ears. Berani escaped their attention by pretending to sleep while she watched life in the mall, out the window of their cage. Later in the day another woman came to the store. She was lonely, and needed some company, she told the owner.
How about a sweet little puppy? They are the best for company. No, the woman wanted something with a little less maintenance. She had a job, and wanted an animal that would be okay by itself for a while. Did she have anything like that?
Of course she did, the owner showed her the kittens next. She took them out, one by one, and let the customer hold and pet them. The shopkeeper explained that the kittens shouldn’t be left alone that long at first, she would need to come back at lunch for a while, if she couldn’t work at home. The woman knew she had a neighbor that would love to check in on the kitten, so it would not be a problem.
All except one tried playfully to bite the woman’s hand, wiggly things that they were. No, the last was a quiet one. A female, she looked at the customer and rubbed up against her. The customer remarked that the cats looked kind of different, what kind were they?
The owner told her that these were Javanese cats and that like their Siamese ancestors are from the Orient and known for their special coloring. These kittens were a tawny color, with dark points on the ears, nose and paws. Their short fur lacks the downy undercoat of most cats; it won’t tangle and doesn’t have to be groomed as often. Most are quite playful, vocal cats.
The owner further pointed out that a pet owner must get the house ready for a cat, much like you must baby-proof a house before letting little ones in it. Glass things on shelves will need to be put away or secured; bowls of potpourri as well as some houseplants could be poisonous if eaten. Cats can and will jump up on counters and bookshelves and climb drapery – all in the name of exploration. They are a curious bunch and you are just as likely to find your cat sleeping on the top of the bookshelf as on the windowsill. Kittens especially, will play with just about anything, so you must take care when bringing one home.
Berani heard all the talking, wuuaa wuaaah, wahh wuahh wuah. It sounded like just so much noise to her. She met the customer’s eyes and somehow knew that this was her person. Meow. Her one. She used her paws to grab the woman‘s thumb while she purred her content as the woman stroked her back. Berani rubbed her head against the woman’s chin, love me, love me! Meow meow, she said to her. Take me home, take me. Meow.
While the customer fell in love with Berani, the owner gathered the necessary items. Cat pan, kitty litter, kitten food, vitamins and flea powder. She was happy; she had sold a rat and a kitten in one day, both going to good homes. When you added all the accessories, it was a good morning for the store too. She made sure the customer knew, that if Berani was too much to handle the shopkeeper would take her back, no questions asked. The store owner was truly interested in the welfare of her animals.
Into a cardboard box with holes went Berani. She was not pleased with this development and cried out, meowing over and over. The woman took her back out of the box to pet her, asking could she carry her out, did she have to be in the box? The shopkeeper smiled and said she could do as she liked, but that if something scared the kitten she could jump down and run away, getting hurt in the process. Sometimes being a responsible pet owner means doing things they don’t like – for their own good. Back into the box went Berani. She meowed and said goodbye to her littermates, the hamsters, gerbils and snakes. She was off to a new life, a home of her own, new things to see and do. She was about to leave the pet store, the only home she had ever known but Berani was ready for the new adventures; her name after all does mean “brave” in the Indonesian language.