Happy, blessed new year to you

New Year

The new year is going to be long one.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

So, brethren, another year has bitten the dust. It wasn’t the worst of them — that would be 2020, perhaps — but it wasn’t the best either.

I look back and ask myself: What fond memories will I take with me to the new year? There have been years when that would have been a no-brainer.

There was the year I got a wonderful, appropriate gift that made me happy for a long time. Some observant kittens had watched over many months how canterkarous I got in the morning looking for something I could never find. Through devious means, over many months, they raised funds, researched supply chains and organised transportation for their under-cover buying excursion and delivery of the goods.

So, that Christmas my gift was a brand new chamois cloth for shining my shoes. The daily growling at the housegirl ended, my blood pressure plummeted and my productivity at work improved.

There was also the year I got a pair of over-size shorts and a big robe. The giver explained: “When I am stressed, I change into these comfortable house clothes and I feel a bit better. It helps me cope.” So, these days when the stress is high, you will find me in those shorts, which cover the knees, and a generous robe.

Dark moments

The year has struck no such high notes; it has had its dark moments. When your parents tell you to stop running off to the neighbours’ all the time, you should listen. Our cat, Astrazeneca’s sister, didn’t, and she has since been promoted to higher glory as a result. I think I need to explain that.

We produce, per capita, more cats than any other family in the whole of Roysambu Sub-County. I don’t live in Karen — that’s still in the future, the reports of certain ghouls in the gutter media notwithstanding.

Our house is the venue of frequent cat parties. I come home late from work, or partying, and I find this forest of fecund tom cats showing off their chests and muscles, making such a lascivious racket punctuated by inviting screeches from our cats. The following day, our cat would be tired, sleepy and have a stuffy nose. Always look out for those three symptoms; if you see them, it’s done. They are 100 times more accurate than the best pregnancy test.

Days later, the cat will grow a big tummy, its behaviour will change in mysterious ways and, before long, when you go to sit, there will be a carpet of blind kittens reaching out to suckle your toes.

I know. There is a medical procedure to cure all this but, after a bit of research and development, we have discovered a more cost-effective and humane process: Give away the mother for adoption, along with her 10,000 lovely kittens.

Sweet affectionate disposition

And that’s how we ended up with Astrazeneca — I can’t swear that’s her real name, though it sounds something like it — and her sister. The sister had a black shiny fur with patches of the cleanest white, a sweet affectionate disposition and her wind was not half as foul as the average Nairobi cat.

Her friendliness extended to paying the said nightly visits to the neighbours’. One night, she had an encounter with a neighbour’s guard dogs. These are vicious animals, bred for violence and trained to fight. But they have never had the opportunity to do so. So they tore her to pieces — and ate her. There was, therefore, nothing to use for those sombre, teary, garden ceremonies when a beloved family pet dies.

Don’t be fooled by my levity; I am deeply traumatised and in need of psychotherapy.

Astrazeneca is OK as cats go. But she is not well in the head. She spends her days doing the most bizarre of things — on top of tearing up the curtains in fights with beings nobody else can see and biting me without provocation — that I have had occasion to question whether she really is a cat. And how does one tell? How do you tell whether your cat is a cat or a beautiful girl from Bombolulu?

Decomposing hormones

Dogs smell. But it is a healthy, stinky smell, like dirty armpits, a mixture of decomposing hormones and bacteria. You can wash, shampoo and comb your dog so that it smells and feels nice. Growing up in the hills of Imenti, there was little incentive to wash the dogs, or ourselves. We smelt the same. The village cats, however, were super clean and never made a mess.

The cats of Nairobi have a smell that is a mixture of old graves, ancient, centuries-old skins and — for reasons I can’t quite fathom since I don’t know how it smells — brass. And you can’t wash them. When you do, you have to create a broiler room, the place where day-old chicks are kept, with temperature control, hair-driers and countless nappies. Their wind is frequent and widespread in impact.

All the same, I’m really sorry Astrazeneca’s sister is not coming with us to 2022.

Talking of the new year, it’s going to be long one. That’s why I thought, as I do once in a while, to lighten your holiday mood with a pet story.

Happy New Year, my friend, and may the Lord’s protection and blessings be upon you and your loved ones.

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