In the Name of Cats

When little Amir was five, he had a cat. With soft, willowy tufts of fur and the most adorable mewl you could imagine, Amir had affectionately called her Upak (or rather, his mother did – he just followed suit). Upak was the sweetest, cutest, most wonderful cat in the history of cats – Amir would rush home from tadika just to wrap his arms around the feline and embrace that glowing warmth that burst from within her.

Amir slowly grew up – Upak did too, of course, maturing gracefully with her nine lives, growing bigger and fatter and ever more pampered. By the time Amir was fifteen, Upak had reached a great age. She was a little heavy from the years of constantly being fed cat food and sardines (Amir always threw them out when his mum wasn’t looking) and, though old, was still very much happy and alive.

Even Amir, now a teenager, pursuing his PT3, still loved his darling Upak. Despite his parents constantly pestering him to study, Amir never forgot to spend some time with Upak, playing around with her favourite power ranger plushie (the pink one because duh!) and ball of bright, yellow wool that seemed to go for miles and miles and miles.

Life was good for Amir and Upak.

Whenever Amir rushed from school to his home from yet another bully’s attempt at ruining his day or whenever he’d get told off by Mr. Safwan for not doing his homework, Amir would always find comfort in Upak. He always thought that that was the secret to Upak’s flawless, fluffy fur – his tears must have been the secret ingredient!

It was unfortunate that his tears would do nothing else however. They didn’t help him attract any friends (Izzul and Naim would only laugh at him) nor did they help him to see trouble before it hit him squarely in the chest. The only friend he had was Upak – her and Miss Athira who’d help guide him through the school from time to time. “If you need me, Amir, please tell me,” she’d say.

But unlike Upak, Amir could never trust her. He’d rather snuggle with his best friend in the entire world at home and sleep for the rest of his days, but of course – that would be impossible. His parents would never support such a thing. They’d pester him to persevere on with his life but it’d just sounded irritating to him.

One sunny afternoon however, things took a surprising twist. Izzul, one of the most notorious bullies that found pleasure in Amir’s pain, was absent from school. Izzul was a smart guy, unfitting of that stereotype that bullies must be stupid academically, and it was rare, if not, impossible, for him to skip classes. His best friend, Naim, explained it to the class. “His cat went missing yesterday,” he explained, “If you see a white cat with yellow eyes, please tell us. He’s wearing a red collar around his neck with metal letters spelling out ‘Aniq’.”

Despite Izzul’s constant attempts at bullying him, Amir felt the huge blow that Izzul was feeling at the moment. He couldn’t imagine a day in his life without Upak by his side, without her comforting mews to silence out all the darkness in the world. Overcome with grief and sympathy, he slowly and carefully made his way to Naim. “I’m sorry for Izzul,” he told him, “I promise to do what I can do.” Walking away, Naim was left speechless at his victim’s sudden desire to help them out.

That very same day, Miss Athira accompanied him, as always, on his way back home, walking under the cheery Malaysian sun, while making small talk. Amir was always a boy of few words but today was even worse – he couldn’t help but worry over Izzul’s cat. Miss Athira noticed the distress in the boy’s eyes. “You okay, Amir?” she asked.

Amir sighed. “Just thinking, Miss,” he replied somberly.

“No worries,” Miss Athira said awkwardly, trying to force a happy grin, “We’re at your home anyway – you can go ahead and rest up.” She opened up the gate for him and a sad Amir marched in, head down.

But suddenly, there was an unfamiliar noise. A few clinks of sorts, followed by a miaow, except it wasn’t Upak’s fancy mewls. He called for Miss Athira. “Can you tell where that’s coming from?” he asked her.

Together, they entered the backyard and lo and behold, Upak was busy playing around with Aniq, apparently hosting a mewling content of sorts. Amir traced his hands around the other cat’s throat to make out the word on his collar to make sure and this time, it was confirmed that this was indeed Aniq. With Miss Athira’s help, he called Izzul over to fetch his cat and when he finally arrived by bicycle, he was full of so many emotions.

Grabbing Aniq up and pulling him into a long, warm embrace, Izzul was delighted. Manly tears in his eyes, he looked over at Amir. “Thank you,” he exclaimed, “Thank you so much! You didn’t have to do this – I’m always such a jerk to you at school, but you still helped me out anyway.” This time, Izzul pulled Amir up to a one-hand hug, sincerely thanking him from the bottom of his heart.

“I promise. From this day on, I won’t ever bully you again. Let’s be friends.”

Amir’s eyes widened at the mention of friends – was this moment really happening? Izzul laughed at his new friend’s shocked face and gave him a light punch on the shoulder.

“For someone who’s blind, you’re so much better at seeing past people’s wrongs,” he chuckled. Amir only followed suit.

They were now two friends – two amigos, two bros, two men with a mission and a mutual love for their best friends, not each other, but of course, Upak and Aniq.

But even though, Amir thought Izzul was in fact a very close second, and so did Izzul likewise.

#BeThankful for the people you have around you.

Written by: Mr. Shy Butterfly Guy

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