I called you Hineko.
I picked you up one night in a dark side street of urban London. A strikingly handsome, nameless guy, cat-like, with multicoloured yet mostly black hair who seemed not to belong to anywhere. For some reason you followed me home as if we had known each other for a long time already. So did you the following night. And the night after that. And so it went on for several weeks.
Until one day you simply stayed in my house and did not even bother to go out anymore. Cat’s decision. As if you enjoyed a vacation in a warm house from the stressful life on the streets. We were developing our own rituals. Sometimes you scratched me severely, but although it really hurt, I knew it’s the feline way. You discovered my soft toys as your preferred way of spending your time and loved it when we played with them together. We were enjoying cheap food. We were sleeping together with you cuddled almost inside me. Or simply feeling comfortable with the other one around.
For more than half a year we were living like this. During which time I almost forgot that you are not a born for staying indoors.
Your tiny black paws were pounding on the door stronger and louder recently. Your yearning look out to the streets when you were laying down on your little fluffy blanket on the window sill was telling me how much you were missing your freedom out on the streets.
One day your pounding was like thunder.
I knew the day has come. The day you would reclaim your freedom. The day I knew I could no longer keep you inside the house.
Your purring seemed to be extra loud when I tickled you behind your ears which you always liked so much. When I opened the door, you looked hesitating at first. Outside, then at me, then outside, then at me. After living together for a year you know when I’m sad. You had your way to cheer me up. Your miaows were almost like chatting now when your were rubbing against my legs, and giving me the heads for the last time. You stepped outside, one foot, then another. You looked back at me questioningly. With a heavy heart I nodded slightly. Then you started to make a move.
My eyes followed you as you were trodding down the street. From time to time you were looking back at me before you disappeared around the corner at the next side street, not without peeping around that corner to check if I were still looking.
I will sorely miss you. But I knew I had to let you go one day when your need for freedom becomes stronger. It’s your nature. And even a golden cage – no matter how big and comfortable – still is what it is … a cage.
Take care now, little Hineko, explore the world around you, while I am going back to my grey life and tidy it up a bit which I have neglected long before you entered my life. Walk proud, head up high and show to all the other street cats you’re by far the prettiest. I will look out for you when coming home from work.
I know you are busy, but when you have the time please do not hesitate to pop in once in a while. My house will always be open for you.
I will always call you Hineko.