Thursday, October 22, 2009

From a lost kitten to a new friendship


In Douala, people's doors used to be open during the day, and only locked before bedtime. Anybody, or in some cases anything, could roam in, almost anytime.
One morning, a small Siamese-looking kitten entered our home through the back door. I love cats, so I was not going chase it out. Everybody else, however, was urging me to "get rid of it," telling me "it could be dirty," and "who knows where it came from."  I told them the kitten was very clean and certainly belonged to someone who had lost it.
Amina in 2012
At lunchtime, we were sitting towards the back yard, the cat peacefully snoozing on a chair. I noticed, through the window, a young girl on top of the roof across the alleyway, so I got up and called out, in French: "Miss! Miss! Did you lose a cat?" She looked up and said "yes!" I scooped up the kitten and went out to her house (in the meantime, she had climbed down from the roof). As it turned out, it was her wedding festivities I had been admiring from behind our back gate a few weeks earlier: after 6 months living in Africa, I finally heard a drumbeat! A man was playing on a small drum (tam-tam) with what looked like a spoon, and a group of women were dancing, wearing North-Cameroon-Muslim-type outfits. My neighbor introduced herself, told me she was newly married, and thanked me for taking care of her runaway kitten. As a token of her thanks, she gave me the next day an entire leg of lamb!
We became good friends, and remain so, even though communications are not easy since I moved back to the US. My father-in-law considered her part of the family. In the meantime, her life took many twists and turns, but the rest of her story will have to wait till she gives me permission to share it.